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The future of HR is connected: How HR leaders can stay proactive in a digital era

May 3, 2021| Reading time: 9min

BY ChartHop

The future of HR is connected, with data driving change, change impacting employees, and employees providing feedback. It’s a dynamic process, one that constantly reshapes itself through each cycle, and it’s how HR teams like yours can lead your company and your workforce into a hybrid and digital era.

Remote work may be the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic, but employees were demanding it long before the pandemic hit. In fact, employees have come to expect more from their employers, including flexible work schedules, new technologies, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a result, HR teams face new challenges when it comes to talent acquisition, talent management, and employee retention.

There’s where the connected HR experience comes in. By centralizing data, using it to make informed decisions, and using those decisions to better employees’ work experience, HR leaders can stay ahead of the demands of an ever-changing digital era.

Centralize people analytics and data into a single platform

HR leaders rely on multiple tools to organize and make sense of their data. The problem is that data siloed across different tools means HR teams lack insight into their big picture. Instead, HR leaders should opt for solutions that bring together multiple data sources and provide a holistic view of their workforce.

Today's HR tech landscape

With an ever growing arsenal of tools and tech at HR professionals’ fingertips, there is a growing need for platforms that can bring all that data together. (Source)

Big data is most powerful when it gives context to other data sets, revealing new and important insights about a workforce. High promotion metrics for the last year might look great for employee advancement, but when paired with employee demographics, such as gender, gender identity, or race, it might reveal a promotion trend that favors a white, male majority.

Centralizing people analytics and data into a single view can give your company this level of insight. Leveraging integrations, your HR team can build a dynamic, digital platform that unites their various tools into one single source of truth. Whereas before, HR teams would need to make the same change throughout several tools, integrations make it so changes in one tool flow through to the platform so that leaders are always making decisions with the most relevant, up-to-date data.

With this data, leaders can make informed decisions and predictions about their future state, including headcount planning, hiring (and retaining) a hybrid workforce, and growing in-demand skills and future business leaders. Centralizing this data through integrations and automation also creates a streamlined workflow, giving HR professionals time back to dedicate to more strategic, innovative, and creative tasks and initiatives.

Use analytics to make data-conscious decisions about your workforce

Centralized data translates to actionable insights. Armed with metrics and powerful visualizations, HR leaders can begin making decisions about their workforce that benefits employees and the overall company.

Headcount metrics, for example, can help inform team size and span of control, or the ratio of managers to direct reports. How many new hires to allocate to a certain department or team depends on whether a manager has the bandwidth to lead, support, and grow those employees. This becomes especially important when leaders consider the unique needs of managing and engaging remote and hybrid teams.

Both headcount and span of control, in turn, help shape organizational structure. Flat organizations value a larger span of control and a limited chain of command. These organizations encourage employee autonomy, value open communication, and experience quick decision-making. This enables flat organizations to react quickly to shifting trends, increasing their agility and flexibility.

Data also plays a key role in skills mapping. Knowing the current skills landscape of a department or company at large can help HR teams and hiring managers to identify skill gaps, which in turn informs which skills they look for in candidates. Reskilling, however, contributes to a company’s resiliency. Here, analytics can help companies identify skill gaps and needs through the lens of future training and employee development opportunities.

Reskilling invests in a current workforce by helping employees develop new and useful skills they can apply in different aspects of the company. Rather than limiting a role—and, by extension, an employee—to a specific skill set, Gartner suggests companies encourage training and reskilling that opens up new opportunities for career advancement. Not only will reskilling benefit employees in their current career paths, but it also ensures that, on a broader level, a company develops foundational skills that will help the company navigate a dynamic future.

Invest in wellness and the employee experience

The future of HR champions the employee experience. HR leaders should use data and insights to shift their workplace’s culture to one that values people over their output so that employees know they’re valued.

At InVision, design thinking, integrated workflows, and frictionless collaboration across teams are what we build every day. I take that mission and say, ‘how can we apply that to the employee experience?’

Shelby Wolpa, Former VP of People Operations @ InVision

Frequent employee engagement ensures human resources keeps a pulse on employee sentiment of their role, their department, and the company. This essential feedback helps HR leaders gauge whether actions they take are effective or if they should re-strategize.

Take the COVID-19 pandemic. According to MIT Sloan Management Review, global HR leaders cited “protecting the health and well-being of employees” as a top concern during this time. Respondents (62%) to Waggl’s Pulse of HR survey say their company took proactive approaches to address mental health and burnout challenges during COVID-19.

These proactive approaches included remote work, sessions on managing stress, flexible work schedules, frequent formal and informal touchpoints, such as stand-ups and watercooler chats, and access to information on available resources. In many ways, HR leaders led the charge in normalizing the challenges of a hybrid work-life balance by helping employees prioritize family care and addressing the very real feeling of being unable to “log off” of work.

“You need to have an environment and culture where your people feel safe to speak up, ask questions, challenge the status quo, and where leaders and those responsible for leading teams show up every single day,” says Kim Schmidt, global leader of leadership, people and culture, at Grant Thornton International. It’s this very feedback that enables HR leaders to redefine their metrics, take a closer look at their data, and proactively address the needs of their current and future workforce.

All eyes are on the future of HR

Human resources leaders are the linchpin of company success when it comes to the future of work. These leaders see the big-picture when it comes to the talent and strategic needs that will help their company navigate an uncertain future and are key in implementing the practices necessary to do so. When HR leaders embrace the connection between data, insights, and the employee experience, they can drive meaningful change both at the company and employee level.

Want more insights on what’s driving the future of work and how HR leaders can prepare? Tune in to this webinar recording where ChartHop CEO & Founder Ian White shares his thoughts.

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