(Week-ending 06/27/2020 - week 17)
15% Increase in Weekly Employee Coronavirus-related Questions into HR Reverses 3 Week Downward Trend
Last week we saw a 15% increase in employee coronavirus-related questions into HR teams, reversing a three week downward trend.
As the coronavirus persists, so does the employee demand for answers to COVID-19 related questions, inquiries and requests. And it is not clear that this ‘need for answers’ will be going away anytime soon.
Bloomberg reports that, while promising, fast-moving vaccine projects are underway in China, Europe and the U.S., only the most optimistic expect an effective vaccine to be ready this year. They add, ‘most experts believe, an effective vaccine won’t be ready until well into 2021’, which implies we’ll all have to co-exist with the coronavirus for the next year or longer.
This has an impact for HR teams everywhere, as it points to the likelihood that COVID-19 will remain an issue for employees for some time to come. The same can be said for businesses. Therefore, HR needs to have emergency response capabilities in place for two reasons: 1) to ensure employees receive the service they need and expect, and 2) to ensure their organizations can operate effectively during a prolonged pandemic, which, as yet, has no end in sight.
The deployment of technology such as Dovetail Check Track Trace, a COVID-19 health screening and contact tracing solution, integrated with applications such as HR Case Management, Employee Portal, HR Knowledge Management, and HR Reporting & Analytics, is an effective way for HR to safeguard employees as they return to work, gain operational efficiency, improve communications with employees, and generate insight from sound (and valid) data analysis. Essentially, it helps businesses get back to work safely.
Click the 5 Insights below to find out more about how HR teams, employees and organizations, are managing in a crisis.
(Note: Employee cases refer to employee questions, inquiries and requests that are logged as “cases” in the Dovetail HR Case Management solution).
Insight 1 - 15% Increase in Weekly Employee Coronavirus-related Questions into HR Reverses 3 Week Downward Trend
With an increase of 15% in coronavirus-related employee questions into HR last week, HR teams are once again facing pressure on their time and resources. In times like this, efficiency of operations become critical to HR maintaining (or even improving) performance. For example, employee case handle time is a KPI for some HR teams. Greater efficiency in operations can reduce handle times, enabling HR to resolve more questions in the same amount of time. Employees who get quicker answers to their questions, will have a better experience of HR services and feel more satisfied with its quality. HR Service Delivery applications bring efficiency to HR operations. To find out more click here.
In the chart above, we see the change in the direction of the curve in week 17, which has been caused by the increase in employee questions, marks an inflection point in the period analyzed. Time will tell, whether or not this upward trend becomes a turning point, after which COVID-19-related questions may increase substantially again.
The concern is that as the coronavirus continues to impact employees’ lives, it will generate another influx of questions, threatening to swamp HR teams. With 355,006 employee cases generated (see above chart) over the last 17 weeks, another mountain of workload could be heading HR’s way.
Insight 2 - HR Work More Hours at Weekend in Response to an Increase in Employee Coronavirus-related Questions
The immediate response by HR has been to answer more employee questions at the weekend.
Throughout the pandemic, we have seen how HR have ramped up their operations at the weekend to deal with the influx of questions from employees. With the uplift in employee questions last week, HR have shown once again they have the capacity, and energy, to respond at the weekend in order to meet their service KPIs, and maintain high quality services for their employees.
Insight 3 - Rate of Closing Employee Coronavirus-related Questions Decreases Again to 73%
The COVID-19 pandemic poses complex questions for HR on various topics and policy areas, including: general employer obligations, dealing with employees who are ill, dealing with concerns from other employees who have been in contact with a colleague who has contracted COVID-19, business and private travel questions, and the employment related impact on the business of the coronavirus outbreak. The slow return to work is already raising concerns around the implementation of pandemic safety protocols in some businesses.
In the last couple of weeks, this complexity appears to be having an impact on the rate at which HR teams are able to close incoming employee questions. From close-rate highs of over 90% to only 73% last week.
Obviously, not all questions can be resolved quickly, regardless of what technology, practices and processes are implemented. However, there are many areas where technology can help. For example, even if an employee question may be complex to resolve, the efficiency of the process of interacting and receiving an answer from HR need not be. HR technology, such as SaaS enabled HR Service applications, take the complexity out of the process of answering employee questions, speeding question resolution up in the process. An Employee Portal can cut inbound inquiries by as much as 50% by enabling employees to self-serve and find answers to their own questions by accessing an online knowledge base. Even if the employee cannot find the answer to the question in the online knowledge base, they can create a case, which is automatically routed to the right person in HR for answering their query. The HR Adviser who picks up the employee’s question in the HR Case Management system, can use features such as Child Cases, Knowledge Articles, and collaboration tools to resolve the case more quickly and accurately. In a time when time and resource constraints are at their limits, HR teams can deploy specialized technology for innovative solutions to their day-to-day challenges.
Click here to see a demo of how HR Service Applications can resolve the complexity of delivering HR services.
Insight 4 - 89% of Employee Cases Are Created Via the Email and Phone Communication Channels
Clearly, the Email and Phone channels are the two preferred ways of communicating with HR. Both channels have advantages when it comes to COVID-19 questions. For example, email allows an employee to send detailed information about their coronavirus-related issue or concern, attaching files if necessary. The explanations given in the email may also be more accurate, as the employee has spent the time to describe the problem with all the relevant facts, and has thought through what needs asking. This helps an HR Adviser grasp the essence of the employee’s issue, making resolution easier. On the other hand, the phone channel enhances the employee experience, by allowing HR to provide employees with exactly what they want: quick, consistent and personalized service.
Another channel that is being adopted by more companies is Live Chat. Offering real-time question and answers, Live Chat is particularly valued by Millennial workers.
Finally, the great advantage of the Employee Portal, is that employees can find answers to their own questions by accessing FAQs, guides and an integrated Knowledge Base.
All four channels together offer an omnichannel communication experience that empowers employees in the workplace.
Insight 5 - The Employee Case-Type COVID-19 Word Cloud Offers a Vision of What is Happening Within Organizations Today
“A picture is worth a thousand words”, or so the adage goes. But why not have a picture created with words?
That was our thinking when we created the Employee Case-Type Word Cloud (below). Based on the frequency of types of questions employees ask HR, it gives the viewer a sense of what employees, HR and organizations are facing today:
It reminds us all that we need to remain vigilant and continue to take measures to stay safe.
Note: Case Types categorize employee coronavirus questions and are used in advanced HR Reporting & Analytics to help HR understand employees' needs and behaviors better, while providing additional insight into what is happening in their organization.
Coronavirus-related questions into HR are on the rise again. After a three week downward trend, employee cases into HR increased by 15% last week. While this is not a huge increase, it's evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to place extra-ordinary strain on employees, HR teams and organizations.
With Bloomberg reporting that scientific experts believe a vaccine is unlikely to be developed for at least a year (if ever at all), it is becoming clearer by the day that we all need to get used to co-existing with the virus for the foreseeable future.
At Dovetail, we believe technology can help alleviate the negative effects of COVID-19 on organizations and their employees. Emergency Response tools such as Dovetail Check Track Trace, with employee health screening and contact tracing capabilities, have been developed to help companies safeguard employees as they return to the workplace, and stop the spread of the virus in our communities. Other tools, such as HR Case Management, Employee Portal, HR Knowledge Management, and HR Reporting & Analytics, all provide features that improve HR efficiency, while at the same time, enhance the employee experience. These HR software applications relieve the workload pressure on HR, support organizations to remain operational, and help employees cope in a stressful and uncertain environment. In doing so, they help employees get back to work safely (and productively) and organizations to remain open for business.
To stay updated on how COVID-19 is impacting HR teams, Click here to view Dovetail’s Daily Updates for HR on the coronavirus.