In The Economist’s “The coronavirus crisis thrusts corporate HR chiefs into the spotlight” an apt parallel is drawn between the role of CFO during the 2007 financial crisis and the CHRO during the current pandemic. 

Then and now, great tacticians have the power to make-or-break the company and relying on analytics is the only prudent way to chart the path forward.

Since a pandemic has the largest global influence on health and the workforce in the 21st century, why are people analytics going to save you?

#1 Pandemic thrusts corporate HR chiefs into the executive spotlight

As the core value of companies has trended toward people, with good reason, the role of people officers have grown in power and responsibility. 

The Economist highlights, “The COVID-19 pandemic presents a different challenge—and highlights the role of another corporate function, often unfairly dismissed as soft. Never before have more firms needed a hard-headed HR boss…They must keep employees healthy; maintain their morale; oversee a vast remote-working experiment; and, as firms retrench, consider whether, when and how to lay workers off.”

Answering for staffing needs ahead of skill shortages is as essential to a business as the product or service. It is increasingly being recognized accordingly. Shareholders are inviting more HR chiefs to boards and in the United States and their salaries are beginning to catch up. Since 2010, HR chief salaries have risen 20 percent faster than that of CFOs.

#2 CHROs expected to use precision tools as comfortably as CFOs

A higher profile entails new expectations. According to one survey by  Russell Reynolds, an executive-search firm, “HR heads appointed to Fortune 100 companies between 2016 and 2019 were around 50% likelier than earlier hires to have worked abroad, in general management or in finance.” The backbone of finance is using predictive tools to spot opportunities for better business objective alignment – and so, too, is people operations. Algorithms now challenge behavioral biases on everything from compensation, to career pathing, employee engagement and can even often trigger alerts when your talent is at risk of attrition.

#3 The inefficiency of stasis is more transparent than ever aka doing nothing will likely kill the business too

The most resilient companies are paying extra attention right now to people analytics in how they form the company’s trajectory – not for 12 months but for 5 years. The tweaks made with precision insights during times of crisis often have the potential to show even higher returns than in more stable times. Don’t waste this opportunity on stasis.

As The Economist puts it, “The instinct is to cut costs through mass redundancies, as some hotel chains, airlines and others have begun doing. Rather than slash payrolls indiscriminately, says Bill Schaninger of McKinsey, another consultancy, good HR heads can use the crisis to reconfigure company workflow: what needs to be done by whom, what can be automated and what requires people to share the same space. Some workers who at first appear redundant may be redeployed or reskilled.”

When Flatten the Curve Takes On New Meaning

To avoid layoffs, boost productivity, and curb superfluous costs during a global pandemic, people analytics has to be where it starts. Learn how with the Fit-to-Role platform for internal hires.