Nearly two years from the outset of the pandemic, the world continues to feel its effects despite the frequent use of the term “post-pandemic.” The future of work continues to unfold as the job market, the workplace, and the workforce are transformed.
The pandemic hit the business world right in its people, erasing any doubt that the lifeblood of an organization is indeed its human capital. Lockdowns and high rates of infection among the workforce have jeopardized the bottom line and even companies’ survival.
Impact on the Workforce
While it has affected the quantity of available workforce, it had a more profound effect on its quality. Employee health and wellbeing took center stage during the repeated lockdowns and reopenings. Changes in their work environment and the reevaluation of priorities and values impacted employee experience, engagement, and ultimately their performance and company profitability.
The workplace and workforce have changed and continue to do so. Employees no longer look at work the same, and want different things from their job, employer, and work environment. As they reassess the role it plays in their lives, they bring into question the why, the how, the where, and the when of their current employment and these specific aspects are being redefined.
The work/life balance is tilting in favor of life and employee expectations. Instead of life accommodating one’s work obligations, work now has to adapt to life. Employee experience is increasingly in the spotlight.
The resultant changes in workers’ priorities and the job market make it somewhat a seller’s market.
Factors like flexibility, remote or hybrid work, and mental health considerations have come to the fore.
That disruption has brought about a phenomenon called “The Great Resignation in the US and worldwide.” The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in July 2021 alone, four million Americans quit their jobs. Thousands of workers have resigned in search of better pay or more rewarding work, while others have dropped out of the labor market, either opting for early retirement or as a result of long-term illness or familial obligations.
These trends underline the importance of taking a data-driven approach to understand and anticipate this behavior. Beyond reporting the raw aggregated numbers associated with employee turnover is a need for analysis.
Who poses a high turnover risk? Why do people leave? What impact will resignations have on key business metrics such as the impact on resources, time-to-completion, and revenue? What measures will reduce attrition?
HR decision-makers must craft “Future of work” strategies around the changes in employee needs and, more importantly, make fundamental adjustments to the employee value proposition.
This is where a robust system of People Analytics comes in. These analytics will help employers take decisive measures to maintain their competitive advantage in attracting and retaining the best talent.
The Employee Value Proposition - EVP
The Employee Value Proposition is the employer’s promise to the employee in return for their commitment, skills, experience, and capabilities. As the pandemic caused a shift in workers’ priorities, this promise had to be revisited.
All of the five elements of the EVP were directly affected, making it necessary for employers to tweak their offerings in response to employee needs.
Perhaps the most affected and critical EVP element to undergo a rise to prominence is Work/Life Balance. For many, the pandemic was a wake-up call that reiterated the importance of time with family, self-care, and attention to physical and mental health. Shifting from office-based work to a work-from-home arrangement has given employees a quality of life that they want to embrace for the foreseeable future.
Additionally, people want their work to be fulfilling, have a purpose, and be meaningful. This means they ask themselves if their values align with that of their employer.
For example, an employer may reassess the compensation and benefits element if parental leave becomes an employee priority. Does my employee care about me as a person? Do they care that I am a father?
Similarly, the people aspect of work in company culture. Does the work environment lend itself to positive relationships based on support and team spirit? Ultimately, employers need to work harder to attract, engage, and retain talent and ensure employees feel valued and connected when they work from home, so communication is crucial.
L&D has seen a boost in investment in technology and virtual platforms due to an increasing need to accommodate remote workers and to upskill and reskill the workforce.
People Analytics has entered the chat
So how do employers make the necessary changes to ensure that their EVP keeps up with the current employee sentiment, behavior, and preferences?
The answer is People Analytics, including predictive and prescriptive people analytics. The technology has come a long way from the obligatory yearly employee surveys to determine what factors drive performance. These descriptive analytics are of limited value since they only examine the past and present. AI has expanded the usefulness of data collection by predicting future outcomes.
Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics
Predictive people analytics uses the descriptive data derived from pulse surveys and employee listening tools to create statistical models forecasting employee behavior. Analysis of the accumulated data allows HR to predict the impact of significant societal changes or HR policies on employee wellbeing, sentiment, and performance. This clears the way for the next step—policy adjustments to ward off expected increases in employee turnover.
For example, analytics can predict turnover and establish frameworks to help determine the major drivers for resignations. Data gathered may include information on absences, performance evaluations, and employee engagement to provide a holistic view of employee satisfaction in their job.
We use analytics dashboards to organize and display these specific metrics for visual insights. By predicting that an employee has a high chance of leaving, HR can take decisive steps to stop it with retention initiatives.
While some companies have successfully employed predictive analytics to create actionable insights, few have taken the next step to prescriptive AI. In a scenario with vast possible permutations, technology can help determine the best course of action.
As the world leans into a more data-driven culture, predictive and prescriptive data analytics is moving into a starring role on the HR stage and in organizations. People analytics provides critical input for decisions surrounding business strategy and outcomes.