How HR Technology Can Improve Employee Relations


New survey finds current events worsen emergency issues, prompting even more demand for analytics solutions.

Perhaps not surprisingly, in 2020, social and political conflicts, as well as the lingering challenges of COVID-19, have helped position the employee relations (ER) function as a critical factor for shaping positive experiences for employees.

Yet without a strong focus on analytics, achieving those ER goals will be an even more difficult challenge, says HR Acuity’s fifth annual report. Benchmark Employee Relations Study.

In fact, the study found that the number of emergency teams responsible for analysis has increased by 13 percentage points over the past year, which, according to Deborah J. Muller, CEO and founder of HR Acuity, demonstrates that leadership teams increasingly depend on data-driven employee relationship information. to create better cultures and safer workplaces.

“The ripple effect of 2020 has resulted in an increase in accommodation requests, social media issues and complaints of discrimination, as well as a significant decrease in resources and a decrease in commitments to vital customer relations processes. employees, ”she said.

See also: Why Resilience Should Be a Top HR Priority

She adds that analytics and technology have become essential to emergency processes, with around 90% of emergency teams tracking a wide range of data, she says. While she describes it as “exciting” to see some employers leverage this previously untapped data as a critical dimension of their diversity, equity and inclusion measures, there is still much to do.

“ER data is still underutilized and should become a strategic and necessary element to meet DE&I commitments in order to uncover biases, ensure fair HR processes and create a culture of transparency and trust with employees,” says Muller.

This year’s study was based on in-depth research of more than 125 organizations, representing approximately 4.5 million employees worldwide, including 2.3 million employees in the United States.

Other key findings include:

  • Employee relations data increasingly informs business decisions and influences workplace culture: About 86% of employee relations teams are now responsible for managing RE analytics, which is a significant increase from last year. Additionally, two-thirds of those surveyed share data and analysis directly with senior management to identify trends and hot spots, and develop concrete initiatives to address areas of concern.
  • ER technology continues to gain ground: Three-quarters of organizations are now using technology solutions to manage employee relationship issues, and almost all organizations track a broader set of employee relationship data.
  • Labor relations issues were directly impacted by the 2020 challenges: The vast majority of respondents attribute the increase in the volume of emergency issues to the pandemic (89%), social movements such as Black Lives Matter (77%) and the political landscape (73%). Employee relations cases across all issue categories stayed open longer, with day-to-day business such as management of leave, time and attendance, wages and hours, and policy violations resolved between two and four weeks. Last year, nearly half of the organizations surveyed closed these cases in five days or less.
  • Signs of significant loss of dynamism and commitment essential to the process of social relations: The use of a mandatory and structured process for conducting investigations, which has seen a steadily increasing trend over the past five years, has seen a sharp decline, with only 44% now using a required process for investigations. Many organizations expected to increase ER staff, and more than half predicted hiring would remain stable in 2020, but the results show an unexpected drop in headcount. This reverses the increase gained in 2019 and, unfortunately, brings resource levels back to those of two years ago. Almost three-quarters of organizations expect employee relations resources to remain the same for all of 2021.

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“The decline in the use of required investigative processes, the decline in transparency and the downsizing in labor relations are disappointing. Each is essential to building accountability and showing employees that their concerns will be taken seriously, ”Muller said, adding that she suspects COVID-19 and the events of 2020 are the root causes, while relationship managers with employees have moved to meet and adapt to remote work, health, safety and well-being of employees.

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Tom Starner is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer who has covered the HR space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be contacted at [email protected]


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