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By Todd Olson, CEO and Founder of Pendo and author of: The Product-Led Organization: Drive growth by putting product at the centre of your customer experience

Employee engagement has never mattered more to me than it has in the last year. With employees working from living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms—sometimes side-by-side with their children—everything feels harder. From communication and collaboration, to soliciting feedback, to gauging employee satisfaction and well being, it’s incredibly challenging to keep employees happy and productive at work. Like a lot of companies, my team at Pendo has really leaned on our stack of HR technology tools during this time.

My company’s software usage data shows that use of HR platforms increased to unprecedented levels over the course of the pandemic. Even more telling is what we’ve heard from our customers in the space. Their focus shifted to doing whatever they could to help companies support their employees during these difficult times, and in most cases, also making significant changes to their product roadmap. As we move into the next lockdown, and working-from-home continues until at least March, it’s critical that HR tech companies continue that focus. 

The challenge HR software has faced during lockdown

As COVID-19 took hold, our data shows that usage of HR software spiked by 89% across EMEA during the initial lockdown period and increased up to 155% globally. In particular, surges of usage came to platforms that enable employees to collaborate and connect, to onboard and access education and training, and to provide feedback and build morale. 

In the case of Hive(HR), an employee voice platform, that meant changing the roadmap to improve the areas of the product experiencing so much growth. By tracking product usage using our platform, in one month alone they saw a 25% increase in usage of one particular feature that lets employees provide real-time feedback. And yet, the feature was relatively hard to find. By rebranding the feature to “Open Door” and promoting it more prominently using in-app messages, they enabled even more customers to adopt the feature. 

They also built a new employee homepage hub where companies can direct their employees to Open Door, enabling more people to provide crucial feedback, as well as access their full suite of employee voice features. These changes made Hive a crucial channel for employees to provide feedback, raise their concerns and voice their ideas while they worked from home, with their tools remaining relevant for the post-pandemic future.

Learnings from lockdown and best practices – from Guy Clark, Product Director, Hive HR

With 2021 officially beginning in a lockdown, the HR industry needs a long-term outlook. Product roadmaps should change to adapt to the demands of today, but HR tech companies should also put processes in place to be sure usage continues when life is back to normal. Here are a few best practices for making sure users adopt your product long-term:

  1. Leverage product usage data to determine which features are used the most; and which aren’t being used at all. Segment users into groups to understand the behaviors of the most successful users of your platform. 
  2. Design in-app communications that map to successful usage and adoption.
  3. Automate routine tasks like new user onboarding, education and support, helping customers more easily help themselves inside your application and freeing up your service and support teams to do higher value work with customers.
  4. Collect and analyze feedback from customers and employees at every turn, and report back to them what you’re building.

HR tech has helped maintain a happy, healthy and productive workforce in this year of home working. They will need to continue this focus and good work for the next few months at least. But the real litmus test for the long-term outlook of HR tech will be whether they can maintain their effectiveness as the trickle back into the office begins. To do this they will need to truly understand how their product is used and make data-driven investment choices to reinforce their best features.