Fourth Annual HR Acuity Benchmark Study Shows Employee Relations Best Practices Widely Adopted, but Analytics Tools Remain a Strategic Gap

HR Teams are Well-Equipped to Lead Through COVID-19 with Consistency and Confidence; Specialized Tools and Data Analytics are the Next Step

 HR Acuity, the only technology platform specifically built for employee relations and investigations management, announced the release of the Fourth Annual HR Acuity Employee Relations Benchmark Study, based on in-depth research from more than 200 leading enterprises representing over 5.5 million global employees.

The results show that Employee Relations (ER) has become a strategic force across the enterprise. By using ER processes, data and technology to reduce workplace risk, organizations have increased transparency and created safer workplace environments – an imperative during this time of global crisis.

However, the study also found that 45% of ER professionals still feel they lack the appropriate tools to do their jobs effectively, especially predictive analytics to uncover potential employee issues, such as discrimination, bias and harassment, before they occur.

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It’s not surprising that Employee Relations is growing in strategic prominence, a trend indicated from past studies. Creating a culture of transparency and trust is at the top of executive agendas because it drives retention and results. This year’s results show that organizations have formalized, elevated and empowered ER teams, with a majority (52%) now reporting directly to the Chief Human Resources Officer or the Head of Human Resources. And, with #MeToo as a catalyst, 59% of organizations are now using required investigation processes and are more actively sharing ER data with employees.

Here is a look at the key findings of this year’s study:

Formalized standards and best practices are taking hold. Nearly two-thirds of employee relations teams (62%) now use a centralized employee relations model, a best practice, and more than half of employee relations teams (59%) now have a structured process for conducting investigations, representing an 18-point increase since last year’s study.

Employee relations data is increasingly driving visibility across the enterprise. 92% of respondents track employee relations data, though 1/5 of respondents don’t yet act on it. Respondents also report a major increase in requests from leadership on tracking metrics, indicating it’s increasingly valued within organizations. In addition, there has been a notable increase in the number of employee relations teams who report their metrics to Compliance, Diversity and Inclusion and managers at their organizations, underscoring the growing importance of employee relations data across the enterprise.

Transparency is increasing. Organizations sharing employee relations metrics directly with employees has increased 17% compared to the prior year, indicating a shift toward a culture of openness and communication.

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Tools and technology drive confidence and efficiency. 64% are using an employee relations technology platform – up from 38% in the prior year’s study — and those who do are far more confident in their productivity and efficiency.

Yet – only 45% of employee relations professionals feel very confident they have all the tools they need to work effectively. The biggest gaps are advanced analytics to help drive business decisions, requested by 91% of ER professionals, along with tools to help managers handle employee issues.

“We’re excited to see the strategic elevation of employee relations in this year’s study,” said HR Acuity CEO and Founder Deborah J. Muller. “Now that organizations are implementing best practices and collecting valuable insights, focus must be turned to how they operationalize this data to drive valuable business decisions. Companies require strong employee relations to build fair, consistent workplaces especially as we recover from the pandemic. The visibility provided by solid employee relations data and technology will guide us as we work to protect our team members and our workplaces.”

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