Cloud Innovations & the Workforce: In Conversation with Brent Weiss

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COVID-19 hasn’t just demanded technical innovation for remote work. Tech is evolving to meet the needs of workers who have to show up in person during the pandemic too.

That’s the message from ADP’s Senior Director of Data Cloud Strategy, Brent Weiss. ADP is known for its Human Capital Management Solutions. Those suites have now seen the development of additional tools that can help employees and enterprises understand and support each other better.

“We saw new levels of employee welfare needs, regulations and compliancy inundate HR,” Weiss said. While the field of human resources has advanced significantly, more needs to be done to equip management with the tools they need to focus on human-to-human support.”

One example of the company’s COVID-demand innovations is the Return to Work Dashboard.

“There have definitely been challenges brought about by remote work,” Weiss acknowledges. “Challenges of team building and cohesiveness and of work-life balance. When you’re home all the time, the lines start to get blurred between work and family. If you’re supporting your kids in online learning, then nights are for catch up time and you’re on 24/7.  It means people are over worked and over stretched, and that is just from the ADP perspective.”

The company is developing products that are sensitive to all the human issues, while helping companies to construct analyses of who is available to come to work, who is or isn’t taking time off and who is running out of time off and whether or not that is a problem.

The Return to Work Dashboard is way of gauging the general availability of the workforce, whether they are on-site or working remotely.

“Essentially, it is a simple survey tool that asks employees, ‘Can you come back to work, are you healthy and have you been exposed to COVID-19?’ That helps our customers through analytics to understand what is happening with their workforce.”

From Weiss’ perspective, the dashboard, which is part of ADP’s core product, is a simple example of how he envisions the data cloud moving forward.

“This is a turn-key survey,” Weiss explains. “We’ve provided the questions for you and they combine with the pre-loaded list of employees and their contact info. All the user has to do is tell us who to send it to and they are tagged as wave one return to work.”

From there employers have to option to delve a little deeper.

“It’s just a matter of re-opening the banner and asking a simple question: If you are able to return to work, how do you feel about it?” Weiss explains. “You can then conduct some quick analytics on a poll of 600 employees and understand that from a 90% response, half of those can return to work and that some are a little nervous about it while others are not available. Ultimately, it enables companies to understand the major situational forces that are impacting how employees can return to work.”

While the dashboard was developed and implemented specifically for COVID return to work analysis, it is becoming a core capability of the tool for a variety of scenarios and for sharing broader communications around other events, such as major weather situations or disasters. However, the tool does serve a broader survey capability and can be used for other types of surveys as well.

“We have some questions around work-life balance and employee well-being,” Weiss says. “There is certainly a need to measure other kinds of workplace sentiment — the type of data that captures how employees are feeling — and tracking over time.

Tools that help to track employee sentiment as part of Employee Experience Management are part of an HR trend toward capturing multiple dimensions of workplace culture.

“This data invites HR management to start building a proactive culture with your people,” Weiss believes. “Businesses benefit because taking care of your employees is taking care of your business! When you understand the problems your employees are experiencing, then you can address those challenges through things like childcare credits, or flexibility with working hours. Yes, that might disrupt the business, but you are showing your employees that you care about them. It drives engagement to proactively help them solve problems and that builds good will around the relationship to drive retention.”

According to Weiss, additions to its core product, like the survey tool for the Return to Work Dashboard, is just the beginning of the work they are doing in the data cloud to measure employee sentiment.

“It is not just creating tools,” Weiss says, “but supplementing it with guidance. That’s ultimately what helps you to create good policy that provides benefit to the business and to employees.”

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Kate Baggott

Kate Baggott is a former Managing Editor of B2BNN. Her technology and business journalism has appeared in the Technology Review, the Globe and Mail, Canada Computes, the Vancouver Sun and the Bay Street Bull. She is the author of the short story collections Love from Planet Wine Cooler and Dry Stories. Find links to recent articles by following her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-baggott-9a0306/