Work from home sounds enticing until it isn’t.
I know WFH has been necessary for many of us, and I am proud to say that the Selerity team has managed to adapt to the situation, remarkably well. But I have learnt that not everyone is like that. In some cases, WFH has worked against companies and their interests. I say this based on a conversation I had with a friend of mine, over the weekend.
He was the manager at a prominent insurance company, and his entire team had shifted to WFH because of the lockdown. Productivity suffered almost immediately. He was quite frustrated, but what really annoyed him was that the department was doing a fantastic job before the lockdown.
“I just don’t understand it,” he ranted. “Prior to this whole thing, we were one of the best departments! The most productive. The work is still the same, the demands are still the same, but the standards aren’t, I honestly don’t know what changed.”
I was curious about the matter, so after the call I spoke to another friend of mine, someone who worked in HR, to ask for her input. “WFH can be a mixed bag,” she said. “It sounds enticing, but there are a number of disadvantages that come with it,” I asked her about some of these disadvantages. “Feeling disconnected from others, not following protocol, dropping morale, there’s a lot.”
“Is there any way to prevent these problems from hurting work?” I asked, “I have a manager friend who is awfully frustrated.” Truth be told, I was a little concerned about my own team, but I didn’t have to mention that part. “Well, you can take steps to minimise the drawbacks from WFH,” she said. “But that’s only possible if you have the proper monitoring systems in place, something to keep an eye on performance, I think you have an idea what could help with that,”
I most certainly did – you see, what my manager friend was missing was people analytics.
People analytics refers to the capacity to use data to improve talent recruitment, retention and employee practices. It’s not a brand new concept, but it has become more important than ever with WFH policies in place.
With teams and departments scattered across a wide geographical area. It’s more important than ever before to have systems in place that collect data on productivity and performance.
One benefit of people analytics is its versatility when monitoring performance. For example, Salesforce has a people analytics system that allows them to see which employees are struggling under a certain manager and intervene before a serious problem occurs.
What’s particularly impressive about people analytics is that it is not a particularly new concept where you need to completely revamp your strategy. Most organisations are already collecting a vast amount of data on their workforce, all that remains is the ability to analyse it and make the most of the data with people analytics.
People analytics can be the tool you need to monitor company performance at a time when the workforce is no longer connected via in-person communication. It’s hard to ascertain why employees might be performing at a certain level when they might be kilometres away from you. However, with analytics in place, you can use data to find an answer and develop a solution to the problem.
Furthermore, it helps with management. Some managers might be more comfortable making decisions when they see their employees working and performing. However, since that option is no longer available, providing evidence-based data can be just as helpful in the decision-making process.
When they have access to data, they will know who is performing, who is struggling and what are some of the causes, even if they are not in regular contact with their team members.
As lockdowns start lifting (they are already putting together plans to lift the lockdown in Victoria), offices will slowly open up, and we will all return to our spaces once again. However, even if WFH policies are no longer in place, there is still a place for people analytics in the office.
Organisations can save a lot of time and money finding the best candidates, but they can also bring out the best in their workforce using insights from data to boost productivity and morale, as well as address issues before they cause serious problems. For these reasons, I believe that by the time this lockdown ends, every organisation will have a more sophisticated people analytics system incorporated into business operations.
If nothing else, it will save managers a lot of confusion and frustration.