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Data-Driven Employee Relations: Highlights from the Eighth Annual Benchmark Study Webinar

Jun 6, 2024
Deb Muller

In case you missed our webinar, “Unlocking Strategic Insights: A Data-Driven Exploration of the Eighth Annual Employee Relations Benchmark Study,” we looked at the stories behind the data within the Eighth Annual Employee Relations Benchmark Study.

Jeana McNeil of Isurus and I reviewed the key findings, sharing our perspectives on the state of employee relations. We identified areas of growth, celebrated ER successes and pinpointed where improvements are needed. You can access the recording here to catch up on all the invaluable insights we shared. I hope you also download the Benchmark Study to see all of this year’s data.

Some of the critical topics we covered include:


The Surge in Employee Relations Cases.

One of the most striking findings from this year’s study is the significant surge in employee relations cases. For the first time in five years, we saw an across-the-board increase in case volumes. Categories such as policy violations have jumped from an average of 34.59 to 48 cases per 1,000 employees. This uptick is a clear reflection of heightened employee awareness and evolving workplace dynamics. What’s particularly notable is the rise in discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims, which have now surpassed the levels seen during the #MeToo movement in 2018.

Mental health cases also remain at the top of the charts, closely followed by job performance and policy violations. This intersection of issues highlights that the workplace stressors amplified by the pandemic are still very much with us. It’s a clear signal that we need robust support systems and proactive engagement from our employee relations leaders.


Building Trust Through Structured Processes.

Trust is paramount in any organization, and it starts with having trusted processes in place. Yet only 58% of organizations use a required structured process for conducting investigations. While this is an improvement from previous years, it highlights a significant gap. Consistent and standardized procedures are essential to enhance credibility and reliability in handling employee relations issues, ultimately fostering a trustworthy work environment.

Training is another critical component in building trust and ensuring the effectiveness of these processes. The survey showed that despite 60% of organizations relying on training to enforce their investigation protocols, only 15% train their investigators more than once a year. This discrepancy suggests a pressing need for more frequent and comprehensive training programs to keep up with evolving best practices and regulatory requirements.

Monitoring and aftercare are equally pivotal in building trust. Our data shows that managers are primarily responsible for aftercare, yet 27% of organizations do not include it in their ER approach. With recent EEOC guidelines emphasizing the need for appropriate corrective action and monitoring post-investigation, it’s imperative for organizations to develop structured aftercare programs. These programs ensure issues are fully resolved and help prevent recurrence, reinforcing a culture of trust and accountability.


Embracing AI in Employee Relations.

AI is making its mark across various sectors, and employee relations is no exception. Our study reveals that while only 9% of organizations are fully embracing AI, the majority are either exploring or cautiously optimistic about its potential. The primary concerns revolve around legal risks, data privacy and maintaining the human element in sensitive processes.

Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of AI in employee relations are significant. AI can help streamline data analysis, identify trends and hotspots, and provide early warnings for potential issues. This allows ER professionals to focus more on strategic and empathetic interactions with employees, rather than being bogged down by administrative tasks.

The key to successful AI integration lies in striking a balance between leveraging technology for efficiency and preserving the essential human touch in employee relations. As we navigate this evolving landscape, it’s crucial for ER leaders to stay informed and actively participate in shaping how AI is implemented in their organizations.


Leveraging Data for Strategic Impact.

Data continues to be a powerful tool in driving strategic decision-making in employee relations. This year’s study highlights a positive trend: organizations are increasingly leveraging data to proactively address trends and support their processes. An impressive 75% of organizations are now integrating ER data with other metrics such as demographic data, performance ratings and turnover rates.

This integration not only provides a more holistic view of the workplace but also enhances the ability to identify and address issues before they escalate. For instance, using ER data to identify patterns in employee behavior or hotspots for incidents allows organizations to implement targeted interventions and create more effective policies.

Organizations that actively track and utilize their ER data are reaping significant benefits. Improved documentation, trend identification, and support for structured processes are just the beginning. This highlights the critical need to invest in robust ER systems and tools that enable comprehensive data analysis and reporting. By doing so, we can ensure our employee relations efforts are not only efficient but also impactful.

As we look ahead, it’s clear that the strategic use of data and technology will be game changers in advancing employee relations practices. I encourage you to book a demo to see firsthand how HR Acuity can help your organization leverage ER data for strategic impact.

And if you haven’t already, check out the recording of our recent webinar to dive deeper into the findings and recommendations from the Eighth Annual Employee Relations Benchmark Study. Let’s continue the conversation and work together to build a better future for employee relations.

Deb Muller
Deb Muller is the CEO of HR Acuity, employee relations case management and investigations software that combines documentation, process, and human expertise so organizations can meet the challenge of managing employee relations in the modern world.