When a major disruption occurs, like the recent COVID-19 virus, companies rely on their business continuity plan to respond to and recover from the incident. The HR team plays a critical role when it comes to business continuity planning. As an HR professional, you’ll need an intimate understanding of the needs of the organization to ensure those needs are being met well enough to continue operations. When business continuity is challenged for any reason, HR data can help measure and track the health of the organization. 

Because the human resources department is the main location where employee information is maintained and policies and procedures are administered, you have unique access to insights that can help to both measure your current business continuity effectiveness and plan for the future.  Here are some key areas of data HR professionals should be looking at to make a strategic impact.

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Managing remote and onsite employees

As the number of employees working remotely increases and the number of safety standards affecting onsite employees does the same, more and more companies seek to manage the effects of these changes. One of the most important things the HR team can do is ensure all personnel files are up to date. If your employee information isn't accurate, it will be difficult to keep track of which employees are working where, what risks they may be exposed to, and what resources they need to be productive.

Here are some key questions you should ask to uncover what's needed to accurately track this area:

How do I know where my employees are?

Tracking the location of your employees, whether remote or onsite, is a great place to start.  Knowing where your employees are can help ensure you provide them with the tools needed to get their job done, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) or home office setups. Instituting policies like geofencing to monitor where employees are when they punch in, employee self-service to allow people easy access to make changes to addresses and personal information, and monitoring where employees access your HR technology from are all ways to get more data here.

What assets are assigned to employees?

Keeping a record of assets helps you coordinate the assignment and delivery of equipment and resources needed for employees in different locations, as well as quickly see where any gaps may be that you need to fill. 

Are we communicating in a mobile-friendly way?

Providing employees with mobile-friendly apps can ensure you’re communicating with them effectively on the devices they use every day. Look for options that can geolocate workers, provide voice- or text-based emergency alerts, and assign to-do checklists to employees based on their roles. Measuring mobile utilization will help you determine which resources work best to reach your employees and give you the opportunity to provide additional support or guidance where needed. 

How do we track which employees are essential for onsite work or can go remote?

Setting up special profiles or groups in your employee records and filtering essential or remote workers into the appropriate place can help you deliver what matters most to those different types of employees automatically based on the rules you define. Monitoring this information will give you deeper insights into how much of your organization is being exposed to what kinds of risk or will require what kinds of resources.

How do we track any exposure risks that may occur?

An unfortunate reality we all have to contend with right now is that some of our employees may get exposed to COVID-19, but that said we can do our best to minimize the risk for them. For example in an onsite situation, by looking at shift and time keeping data such as who was scheduled for what days and who was punched in and working when, you can perform an analysis called contact identification to quickly track who is likely to have had exposure in the event of someone contracting the virus and take decisive action to notify those who may have had contact, put in place any needed quarantine measures, and protect those not yet exposed.

Maintaining business continuity

HR plays a key role in communicating about and monitoring the key processes that mitigate risk at an organization. This is critical to helping your employees feel secure and supported during difficult times. Coordinating response plans and taking steps to put safety measures in place can help with both supporting employees and maintaining business continuity. 

Here's what you need to ask to monitor core business continuity priorities:

What channels should we communicate through?

Monitoring receipt and response times from multiple forms of communication like mobile alerts, email, SMS, and secure messaging helps to identify the best method for your employees and organization to stay in touch.

Are we keeping up with regulatory changes?

Staying on top of changing regulations is always a challenge, especially during these difficult times. Standards need to be met for new local, state, and federal regulations, and updates regarding changes to employment law, compliance requirements, and employee safety regulations need to be passed on to your employees. Tracking and reporting on employees who have received and signed off on any new or updated policies and procedures can help HR keep pace with regulations to ensure employees are informed and the company stays compliant. Also, tracking things like your payroll deductions, taxes, employee time trends, leave types, and grants received can help you see how new regulations are being applied in your HCM system.

How can we measure labor costs?

Tracking hourly employees’ attendance, productivity, and absences through methods like time cards and mobile punching can help you measure and report on labor costs. Gaining insight into the work employees perform allows you to improve the efficiency of your labor productivity while lowering or maintaining your labor costs.

Who is following proper safety procedures?

Tracking employees' training completion and certifications around personal protection protocols, social distancing, and disaster preparedness will help you identify who is ready to follow safety procedures and who may need additional education.

Can we identify areas of risk?

Tracking incident and leave categories around emergencies and essential, non-essential, or high-risk roles will help HR better protect employees, identify where potential vulnerabilities exist, and boost visibility into reporting and compliance.

Ensure employee well-being

HR is a source of trust and comfort to employees during times of crisis. Keeping a pulse on employee well-being ensures a safe and productive workforce.  Making sure your employees are prepared and having a plan of action in place will allow you to get ahead of any potential business continuity challenges.

These questions will lead you to the data you need to add employee well-being as a core priority in your business continuity mix:

How many employees are trained for emergencies?

Beyond just showing you who’s prepared for business continuity purposes, tracking employees who have completed training and/or received certifications around disaster protocols can also ensure your employees feel secure in the fact that they know what needs to happen in different situations. This data can facilitate conversations that boost employee confidence and comfort levels with the challenges they’re facing.

Who is a potential flight risk?

Monitoring connections between engagement, performance, and productivity helps organizations identify and make proactive choices to prevent at-risk employees from leaving. This both improves the employee experience through conversations anticipating employee needs and prevents your resources from getting stretched too thin by retaining people in key roles.

Which managers are keeping employees engaged and productive?

Tracking the jobs or projects that hourly employees are working on and tracking duration-based, project-based, and non-worked time for professionals provides insight into productivity and performance across the entire organization and can help you isolate which teams are doing this particularly well or may be underperforming.

Which employees are at risk for burnout?

Tracking and monitoring schedules, breaks, and paying attention to hours worked can help identify employees that are a higher risk of burning out.

Are we on track with performance goals?

Keeping track of employee goal completion, development milestones, peer feedback, and succession plan progress helps HR professionals assess the status of each employee, keep employees motivated with clear ties between their activities and business results, identify any struggles employees are having before they become larger issues, and ensure that high performers get the recognition they deserve for their efforts.

Conclusion: The right HR data can drive strategic organizational decisions

When HR teams have access to the right data, they are better able to monitor and track the health of the organization.  A unified system designed to pull data across all pillars of HCM allows you to monitor trends and predict into the future. When you have HR data you can trust, you’re well-equipped to provide core strategies for an effective business continuity plan. If you would like to learn more on HR’s role in business continuity, check out our Managing Through Times of Uncertainty resource page

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Published: Monday, April 27, 2020