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How HR can trace burnout back to its source

By Caroline Payne, Head of Customer Advisory, SAS UK & Ireland

January 22 2021 - HR teams work hard to understand how employees are feeling day-to-day. But when companies have thousands of employees, or multiple offices, or mass 'working from homeí during the pandemic, this task becomes exponentially harder. Understanding whatís making work hard for employees is vital for happier teams which, according to research, are 13% more productive.

Figuring out how employees feel - and perhaps even anticipating these feelings before they occur - should be at the heart of HR strategies. To do this at scale, companies should be deploying HR analytics. Analysing your people might seem impersonal, but itís instrumental for managing these intangible emotions in a methodical way. Iíve previously spoken about the value of wellbeing for helping employees to feel comfortable in their roles; now, this must be scaled up to ensure every employee receives the support they need to bring their best to the role.

Spot issues by tracing them back to the source

Itís possible to predict and identify cases of burnout or dissatisfaction at scale through finding the source in untapped data. For example, we can read about the achievement of HMRC staff and their ecosystem of partners in preparing and delivering the Job Retention Scheme (the first of a number of COVID support schemes) in 3-4 weeks, and perhaps we know of someone who is proud to be part of this. Yet with such an accomplishment comes long, stressful hours - day and night - and the real potential for burnout.

If an employee wants to leave because they feel that, despite their hard work, their skills are undervalued, or their salary is below their expectations, many companies can find themselves signing their good-bye card. Few companies think of these events as preventable - but just like losing a customer, a team will want to spring into action to keep talented individuals.

A central decision hub can assess employee behaviours and patterns on multiple levels to provide a unified view throughout their employment lifecycle. By looking at a huge variety of internal and external data (such as the existing performance of the team, and the average salaries for a particular role respectively) itís entirely possible to spot the triggers which lead to dissatisfaction. To help manage this volume of data, AI and machine learning can be trained to spot problematic combinations of factors, and produce insights that could mitigate a resignation. From here, HR can work with business unit leaders to devise an appropriate plan - for example, if a lack of work-life balance is the driving force, then the plan needs to decrease the individualís responsibilities or bring in new team members to share the load.

Effective teams require the perfect blend of abilities

Like the first coffee of the day, teams must have a strong blend to produce results. This means combining complementary skills with personalities that create harmony and momentum. Losing a person from the team can be tricky, particularly if it upsets this balance.

One of the most common yet destabilising losses comes with the retirement of those who have spent a lifetime gaining knowledge in their field; this is particularly true in the public sector where there are a large number of life-long civil servants. The shock of losing this go-to expert can cause the team to lose heart.

However, analytics can help prevent this negativity. HR can track who possesses which skills, and how skill-sharing and knowledge retention can be increased even during personnel changes. Not sure of the impact of a HR decision? Hybrid, multi-layered analytics can quantify the effects and advise on the right choice. This might mean offering an incentive to the knowledgeable team member to stay for an extra time while training a new team member, whose skills profile suggests they will fit in well.

Visibility over skillsets can reveal opportunities

What does your organisation stand for? It varies from employer to employer - perhaps itís advocating better cybersecurity, or pushing the boundaries of fashion, or fighting for human rights. Yet, helping employees to thrive is a key driver every organisation should have. As well as the moral and social benefits, this ethos does wonders for business continuity.

Investing in people creates mutual relationships that must be preserved - not least because it is expensive and time consuming to have a heavy employee turnover. The failure of this relationship can be caused by many things, but a commonly occurring factor is a lack of opportunities to grow.

Attentiveness is therefore key. Only by having a full view of the available opportunities and the existing skillsets can an organisation open the right doors and make the right judgements to keep talent fulfilling its potential around the business. Ultimately, they must create the right balance of employees with a rich, deep experience of the business and market, and nurture new talent to take the business forward into the future. Custom data integration is the key to identifying the right data to be analysed so as to yield the best insights for the future of the business.

Nurture stronger teams by leaning on the data

As many of us continue to work away from the office, it has never been more important for HR teams to keep track of the physical and mental health of employees. As businesses seek much-needed continuity, confident and committed teams will be pivotal to achieving this.

Spotting potential issues ahead of time will help to mitigate risk as we continue through this crisis and into a new working world. Itís a key strategy in creating long term resilience and business success - not to mention boosting happiness across the entire enterprise.



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