Report finds Employee Relations leads workplace transformation

Fourth annual HR Acuity Benchmark Study shows Employee Relations best practices widely adopted, but analytics tools remain a strategic gap

Employee Relations has become a strategic force in leading transformational change within organisations, according to the Fourth Annual HR Acuity Employee Relations Benchmark Study by HR Acuity.

The results show that by using Employee Relations (ER) processes, data and technology to reduce workplace risk, organisations have increased transparency and created safer workplace environments – an imperative during this time of global crisis.

The study, of more than 200 leading enterprises representing over 5.5 million global employees, 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.

“It’s not surprising that ER 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,” said Deborah J. Muller, CEO and Founder HR Acuity – the only technology platform specifically built for employee relations and investigations management.

This year’s results show that organisations have formalised, 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 organisations 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:

Formalised standards and best practices are taking hold. Nearly two-thirds of ER teams (62%) now use a centralised ER model, a best practice, and more than half of ER 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 ER 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 organisations. In addition, there has been a notable increase in the number of ER teams who report their metrics to Compliance, Diversity and Inclusion and managers at their organisations, underscoring the growing importance of Employee Relations data across the enterprise.

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

Tools and technology drive confidence and efficiency. 64% are using an ER 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 ER 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 Deborah J. Muller.

 “Now that organisations are implementing best practices and collecting valuable insights, focus must be turned to how they operationalise 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.”

Introduced in 2016, the Employee Relations Benchmark Study is the only source for information from employee relations leaders at organisations with more than 1,000 employees from a wide range of industry sectors. The study has become a go-to resource for ER professionals to help guide decisions about resources and processes to improve the employee experience and drive better business outcomes.
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