COVID-19 has leaders in Human Resources asking lots of tough questions:Should my employees continue to work from home?Even if employee productivity is higher than normal with a work from home model, will there be a long-term harmful effect on customer satisfaction?Even if net income is positive today, is it at the expense of employee well-being, or is it sustainable because employees love working at home?What key positions in our organization are missing a clear succession plan in the case someone falls ill? Who are the strongest internal candidates for these roles?How can we best onboard new team members working remotely?During and after the crisis, can we define a new normal that is even better than our previous model of working arrangements?If HR leaders want to make the best decisions for an organization, they will need to leverage data from across the company, not just from within HR.Imagine this scenario: a company instructed its entire sales department to work from home due to COVID-19. The initial assumption from the business was that customer satisfaction would decrease and potential clients would not be as receptive with sales staff conducting business from their homes. However, HR teams should work with the business to collect the facts to measure client satisfaction and sales revenue before, during, and after the shift to working from home to truly understand the impact of the change—exclusive of assumption and gut feelings.Human Resources teams should go further to also measure how this business change impacts employee engagement and satisfaction, not just bottom-line performance metrics. Even though employees may not be grumbling now, they may start to feel inklings of discontentedness. Regular anonymous, short surveys provide leading indicators of attrition problems.Decisions made in a vacuum will unintentionally affect other aspects of the business, like losing valuable employees who contribute to the bottom line. Connecting customer satisfaction, employee sentiment, productivity metrics, and financials would help HR lead the organization with the most informed and holistic data for the greater good.The beauty of data connectedness across departments is that HR decision-makers do not have to accept baseless solutions to difficult questions. With more context, HR will have confidence to lead the organization through crucial decisions in a changing landscape.How to Get the Full Content to Answer Tough HR Questions To answer your HR questions in a data-driven way, include data from different departments across your company. Here are some tips to ensure your decisions are based on a complete picture of your business.1. Make employee-centered decisionsFor every organization, the employee is the connecting hub for all business metrics within the organization. That is why HR is best positioned to lead this effort, because HR begins with the human in mind and branches out from there.2. Evaluate short- and long-term financial performanceWhile short-term profits may be higher or lower than expected, the long-term result may be the opposite. If HR decision-makers factor in company financial and performance indicators, they can make better HR decisions around hiring, performance, and compensation.3. Survey employees to gauge sentiment and happiness while working at homeMany organizations changed to a work-from-home workforce for the first time, and the impact to employee mental health and productivity is still unfolding. Even if employees have increased productivity in the short-term, there may be long-term negative effects. For example, productivity may only be higher because employees are working more hours. An unexpected wave of attrition weeks or months from now could occur, ultimately costing your company more than the short-term gains. Complete regular and ongoing surveys and connect this data to your analysis of financial and performance indicators.4. Survey customers to evaluate their satisfactionSimilarly, customers may be happy for now with online orders, curbside pickup, and interacting with support teams who are working at home, but their level of satisfaction may drop over time. It is also possible that customers may want to keep new service offerings like curbside pickup even after the risks subside. Customer experience is an integral part of any organization’s success and longevity, and it should be factored into all your business decisions.5. Measure employee productivity using Performance and Goals, a subset of HR dataSome employees may be more distracted at home and eagerly anticipating a return to the office; others are more productive than before because their daily commute is gone, giving them more time to focus and work hard. Focus on those who were average or behind the curve and see if they benefit from the change in scenery. A new normal of work location flexibility may be a path to improving employee performance.6. Predict and forecast with demographic, health, and geographic COVID-19 dataAge and health history of employees, combined with instances of COVID-19 in your area of business operation, can help predict employee risk associated with COVID-19 and can help mitigate risks of reintegration.7. Gather IT data to measure cost of work from home adaptionsHaving an entire workforce at home creates many technological challenges for an organization, particularly for the IT department who must ensure that every employee has the technology and software needed to do their best work.The added strain of more virtual private networks (VPN) load, cloud storage, laptops, mobile devices, and other technologies are all measurable and calculable costs of having an at-home workforce. These should then be weighed against the cost savings of a work from home workforce, such as office real estate.8. Be aware of your market shareIn any event that disrupts normal market activities, some organizations will come out ahead, and others behind. One way to understand how you are performing by market share relative to your peers. While your sales may have declined duringCOVID-19, you may have gained market share against competition. This could lead to rapid increased demand for filling new roles once the economy improves overall.Human Resources should measure and analyze this data with the business frequently and combine it with their time to fill positions metrics to stay on top of staffing demand.HR Must Recognize Their Opportunity to Make Data-Driven Decisions Asking and answering these questions can be intimidating, but data brings clarity and instills confidence to make appropriate decisions. This is the perfect time for Human Resources teams to recognize the opportunity to lead and use data to do what is best for the business and workforce.Learn more about answering tough HR questions: Webinar: HOW TO USE DATA AND ANALYTICS TO RECOVER FROM A RECESSIONIn this on-demand webinar, data experts participated in an interactive panel discussion and discussed in more detail about how Customer Behavior, Supply Chain, and HR/People Analytics can help you handle new challenges during the recession.