The critical HR data you need for business continuity planning

Times of uncertainty can be overwhelming for organizations. HR professionals play a key role in policy creation and employee communication. That’s why it’s critical that HR effectively coordinates response plans, takes extra safety measures, and helps employees feel secure during major business disruptions such as public health emergencies, natural disasters, and cybersecurity threats. 

When a major disruption occurs, like the recent COVID-19 pandemicorganizations rely on their business continuity plans to respond to and recover from the incident. The HR team plays a critical role when it comes to business continuity planning. As an HR professional, you’ll need an intimate understanding of the needs of the organization to ensure those needs are being met well enough to continue operations  not only during a state of crisis – but also during a normal state. 

Adaptive Business Execution through Managed Competence 

When business continuity is challenged for any reason, HR data can help measure and track the health of the organization during a state of crisis. But maybe, more importantly, support the development and planning of competencies ensuring that no “SPOK’s” – Single Point Of Knowledge/Knowhow – occurs and that appropriate HR strategy are implemented, ensuring that the organization has enough competent resources to cover critical functions, supporting critical activities for business-critical services and deliverables.  

HR – a Data Lake? 

Because the HR department is the main location where employee information is maintained, and policies and procedures are administered, HR has unique access to insights that can help to both measure current business continuity effectiveness and plan for the future.  It is key, however, that HR is not the sole expert in employee data, meaning that when organizations consider the development of competencies, that they share the wealth, so to speak, and encourage leaders to get involved in reviewing and seeking insights on their employees and the people asset as a whole. Having the right tools (& culture) to achieve this is key. Here are some key areas of data that HR professionals (and also leaders) should be looking at to make a strategic impact. 

Managing remote and onsite employees 

As the number of employees working remotely increases and the number of safety standards affecting onsite employees does the same, more and more companies are seeking to manage the effects of these changes. One of the most important things the HR team can do is to ensure that all personnel files are up to date. If your employee information isn’t accurate, it will be difficult to keep track of which employees are working where, what risks they may be exposed to, and what resources they need to be productive. 

Here are some key questions you should ask to uncover what’s needed to track this area accurately: 

– How do I know where my employees are? 

Tracking the location of your employees, whether remote or onsite, is a great place to start.  Knowing where your employees are can help ensure you provide them with the tools needed to get their jobs done, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) or home office setups. Instituting policies like geofencing to monitor where employees are when they check-in, employee self-service to allow people easy access to make changes to addresses and personal information, and monitoring where employees access your HR technology are all ways to get more data in this area. 

– What assets are assigned to employees? 

Keeping a record of assets helps you coordinate the assignment and delivery of equipment and resources needed for employees in different locations, as well as quickly see where any gaps may be that you need to fill. Specifically, for key competencies that have specific roles in the business continuity plan, HR has to make sure that remote workplaces have the equipment required to do the job even through a period of disruption. 

– Are we communicating in a mobile-friendly way? 

Providing employees with mobile-friendly apps can ensure you’re communicating with them effectively on the devices they use every day. Look for options that can geolocate workers, provide voice- or text-based emergency alerts, and assign to-do checklists to employees based on their roles. Measuring mobile utilization will help you determine which resources work best to reach your employees and give you the opportunity to provide additional support or guidance where needed.  

– How do we track which employees are essential for onsite work or can go remote? 

Setting up special profiles or groups in your employee records and filtering essential or remote workers into the appropriate place can help you deliver what matters most to those different types of employees automatically based on the rules you define. Monitoring this information will give you deeper insights into how much your organization is being exposed to different kinds of risk or what kinds of resources will be required? 

– How do we track any exposure risks that may occur? 

An unfortunate reality we all face right now is that some of our employees may become exposed to COVID-19, but that said, we can do a lot to minimize the risk for them. 
Ex1in an onsite situation, by looking at shift and timekeeping data such as who was scheduled for what days, and who was checked in and working when, you can perform analysis called contact identification to quickly track who is likely to have had exposure in the event of someone contracting the virus and take decisive action to notify those who may have had contact, put in place any required quarantine measures, and protect those not yet exposed.
Ex2for key competencies required to be onsite, you can split up your workplaces in different zones and furnish those given the required activities. This is what Arbetsförmedlingen (The Swedish Public Employment Agency) did for their key competencies, and another client did the same but also created redundancy by splitting up and creating redundant autonomous teams at each geographical site they had so that if one site became disrupted, others still could run the show. 

Maintaining business continuity 

HR plays a key role in communicating about and monitoring the key processes that mitigate risk at an organization. This is critical to helping your employees feel secure and supported during difficult times. Coordinating response plans and taking steps to put safety measures in place can help with both supporting employees and maintaining business continuity.  

Here’s what you need to ask to monitor core business continuity priorities: 

– What channels should we communicate through? 

Monitoring receipt and response times from multiple forms of communication like mobile alerts, email, SMS, and secure messaging helps to identify the best method for your employees and organization to stay in touch. Get direct feedback from your employees through pulse surveys or focus groups to check it’s working for every level and type of role. 

– Are we keeping up with regulatory changes? 

Staying on top of changing regulations is always a challenge, especially during these difficult times. Standards need to be met for new local, state, and federal regulations, and updates regarding changes to employment law, compliance requirements, and employee safety regulations need to be passed on to your employees. Tracking and reporting on employees who have received and signed off on any new or updated policies and procedures can help HR keep pace with regulations to ensure employees are informed, and the company stays compliant.  

– Who is following proper safety procedures? 

Tracking employees’ training completion and certifications around personal protection protocols, social distancing, and disaster preparedness will help you identify who is ready to follow safety procedures and who may need additional education. 

– Can we identify areas of risk? 

Tracking incident and leave categories around emergencies and essential, non-essential, or high-risk roles will help HR better protect employees, identify where potential vulnerabilities exist, and boost visibility into reporting and compliance.
Ex1Here, digital solutions that allow for remote work supporting a distributed workforce play an instrumental role, and depending on the functionality, you will get unbiased data or not. The picture below shows the kind of feedback we get from using tools that meet those objectives. 

Free translation on picture … 

  • Good tool 
  • More people from various parts of the organization with the right know-how invited 
  • Effective and fast process
  • Great speed with many good contributions within the given timeframe 
  • Structured and efficient process in a great tool 
  • A good tool allowing for parallel contributions 
  • A good tool that would be nice to have also in other forums. Triggers many thoughts. 

Ensure employee well-being 

HR is a source of trust and comfort to employees during times of crisis. Keeping a pulse on employee well-being ensures a safe and productive workforce. Making sure your employees are prepared and having a plan of action in place will allow you to get ahead of any potential business continuity challenges. 

These questions will lead you to the data you need to add employee well-being as a core priority in your business continuity mix: 

– How many employees are trained for emergencies? 

Beyond just showing you who’s prepared for business continuity purposes, tracking employees who have completed training and/or received certifications around disaster protocols can also ensure your employees feel secure in the fact that they know what needs to happen in different situations. This data can facilitate conversations that boost employee confidence and comfort levels with the challenges they’re facing. 

– Who is a potential flight risk? 

Monitoring connections between engagement, performance, and productivity helps organizations identify and make proactive choices to prevent at-risk employees from leaving. This both improves the employee experience through conversations anticipating employee needs and prevents your resources from getting stretched too thin by retaining people in key roles.
Ex1: Here, surveys can play a role in allowing the organization to draw conclusions like this. There are self-serviced options available that organizations can use. 

– Which managers are keeping employees engaged and productive? 

Tracking the jobs or projects that hourly employees are working on and tracking duration-based, project-based, and non-worked time for professionals provides insight into productivity and performance across the entire organization and can help you isolate which teams are doing this particularly well or may be underperforming.
Ex1There are plenty of digital solutions for engaging the workforce, some better than others. Important is that the solution give the participants the security to speak out on issues that are sensitive, that if revealed, can give the informant problems in the group or in the organization. That is why we, CCG Europe, always work with digital solutions that allow for anonymous participation. That makes sure that all bias is taken out of the data and that results are representative of the participating group. Bias in data can lead to costly wrong decisions! 

– Which employees are at risk for burnout? 

Tracking and monitoring schedules, breaks, and paying attention to hours worked can help identify employees or even teams that are at a higher risk of burning out. Having one employee leaving a department or go on sick leave can be stressful enough, but having several leaves can cause a major disruption. 

– Are we on track with performance goals? 

Keeping track of employee goal completion, development milestones, peer feedback, and succession plan progress help HR professionals assess the status of each employee, keep employees motivated with clear ties between their activities and business results, identify any struggles employees are having before they become larger issues, and ensure that high performers get the recognition they deserve for their efforts. 

Conclusion: The right HR data can drive strategic organizational decisions 

When HR teams have access to the right data, they are better able to monitor and track the health of the organization.  A unified approach designed to pull data across all pillars of your workforce allows you to identify trends and predict the future. When you have HR data you can trust, you’re well-equipped to provide core HR strategies supporting effective business continuity planning in the organization. If you would like to learn more about HR’s role in business continuity, feel free to contact us at 

At the pen 

Pierre Wettergren, CEO & FBCI

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