While it has become clear for many organizations that they need to increase business agility to better meet the needs of a constantly changing world, what is perhaps less obvious is the role human resources should play in facilitating this transformation.

While many HR teams have been able to reposition their role within their organization to that of a strategic partner, not all have made the switch. According to Sapient Insights Group’s 2020-2021 HR Systems Survey, 20% of respondents believed HR was still primarily a compliance-focused organization. However, as more organizations realize that they need to be nimbler if they hope to stay competitive and meet their core objectives, it becomes clear that they need to be better in how they deploy their most valuable resource: their people.

In order to adapt to new challenges and increase overall organizational agility, human resource teams need to lead the way and utilize HR analytics to do so confidently and effectively.

The Importance of HR Analytics

In 2020, many HR teams had to quickly take stock of their organization’s radically shifting needs, formulate new, sometimes drastic workforce changes, and execute a new business-critical plan. This process was made harder by the incredible uncertainty that HR teams faced, with a global pandemic, a shaky economy, and in the United States, a civil rights crisis.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first arose in early 2020, HR teams played a key role in managing the transition to a remote workforce, repositioning or, in some cases terminating employees, finding ways to ensure employee safety, keeping employee morale up, and a host of other challenges. One thing that became clear once most organizations had made this transition was that those that had better access to accurate, comprehensive HR data were better positioned to pivot.

Organizations must do more than simply react to internal and external pressures; they need to be able to identify the need to adapt, quickly assess their current capabilities and future needs, then formulate a solid, data-backed strategy. Workday’s Organizational Agility and Digital Growth study found that 36% of “fast responders,” or those organizations that were able to quickly adapt at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, had accurate data readily available to the stakeholders who needed it. According to Sapient Insights Group’s survey, enterprise workforce planning increased 38% in 2020 vs. 2019. Tools such as Workday Adaptive Planning saw usage spike up after the onset of the pandemic, as organizations struggled to find the best strategy in a time of uncertainty.

HR Agility = Organizational Agility

Many of the initiatives that an organization can take to improve agility either fall almost entirely in HR’s wheelhouse or involve HR in some capacity. Having accurate, real-time data readily available empowers HR teams to act with confidence when executing these initiatives, allowing them to not just react but to quickly plan new strategies to address internal and external forces.

As more technology and workflows are put in place to increase organizational agility, the need for robust HR analytics that ties all these initiatives together in a centralized location grows. Here are just a few of the types of initiatives that organizations are implementing to better adapt to a rapidly changing environment:

Expanding the Extended Workforce

As organizations rely more on vendors, contract workers, and other non-employee workers, it becomes important to have data on these workers centralized in an extended workforce platform like Utmost and pushed to your organization’s Human Capital Management (HCM) system. This provides HR with a more comprehensive view of their organization’s overall capabilities and optimizes their onboarding processes for extended workers, reducing the time it takes to reassign workers should the need arise.

Upskilling and Reskilling Initiatives

Employers are looking for more skills, with a Harvard Business Review study finding a 33% increase in the number of skills listed on job ads in 2020 than there were in 2017. As organizations strive for increased agility, being able to identify skill gaps accurately and quickly and fill them becomes increasingly important. Fortunately, there are solutions that make this process significantly easier. For example, Workday makes it easy to have an inventory of your organization’s current skill capabilities and identify gaps that can be filled with upskilling or reskilling initiatives.

Improving the Employee Experience

For organizations that are transitioning to either a hybrid or entirely remote workforce, improving employee engagement and delivering an overall stronger employee experience (commonly referred to as EX) is top of mind for many HR teams. According to HR analyst and speaker Josh Bersin, “In 2021, you will need a cross-functional EX team that looks at employee segments, employee journeys, and the role of service delivery centers responding to employee problems and needs.” Talent experience platforms such as Phenom provide insights into factors such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, internal mobility, and referrals and can help HR teams deliver that improved employee experience and can feed critical employee experience data into your HCM system.

To make the most of this data and utilize it to improve HR agility (and therefore organizational agility), centralized in your HCM. This makes it easy to find and pull reports as needed and allows HR specialists to feed this data into planning tools to run what-if scenarios. Centralizing data, instead of siloing it across different systems, also ensures the data’s accuracy as well. With centralized, accurate data, HR teams to help create agility within their organizations and do so strategically instead of reactionary.

This post was written Collaborative Solution on their website here. They are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 Workday Partners floor in the Partners Hall here.