HR without data is HR without control

Whether we like it or not, we now live in a digital world. The most successful organisations are using data to better understand their customers and to fuel their competitive advantage. To stay relevant in this environment, every organisation needs to leverage 100% of the data they collect to make better decisions in real-time – to control every aspect of their business.

However, just collecting data on its own isn’t enough. The technology for collecting and storing data is inexpensive and freely available. Anyone can create vast spreadsheets and tables of numbers – the secret is in the ability to process these data sets to create “meaningful” information from them. And the faster you can process raw data into real insights that drive better decisions, the greater your advantage within your marketplace.

While data can be used to find new revenue streams and customer segments, it holds the same level of value for identifying cost efficiencies and opportunities for productivity gains. This is where we know that many organisations struggle, as they don’t have clear visibility of their entire workforce data. Without oversight over their workforce performance and engagement, they have very little hope of getting the best results from their workforce.

They know they have a range of data for tracking day-to-day activities such as leave scheduling, sick days and payroll, but this is only scratching the surface of what this information can be used for. What this scheduling information can also reveal is a pattern of disengagement from individual employees or entire business units. This can then be correlated with employee turnover, and HR leaders can then predict areas that will require staffing in the future.

Within your performance management systems, data analysis can also be used to predict whether an employee is likely to achieve their KPIs based on contextual data from their fellow team member’s KPIs, and whether discrepancies can be explained by other factors. I’ve also spoken previously about using data to identify high potential employees who can be earmarked for promotions or broader roles based on a range of quantitative performance data and qualitative personality tests.

All of these capabilities are great in theory, but unless we have a way of making this analysis available to the right decision makers in our business, it is simply an opportunity going to waste. The answer lies in democratising data so that HR leaders can work collaboratively with department heads and business unit managers on solutions to their current workforce challenges.

This collaboration is best achieved when people have access to contextual dashboards and visualisations that present workforce data in a unified and intuitive format. Managers outside of the HR team can then input data and information that provides context for workforce data such as seasonal sales spikes or a key position that remains unfilled. And all of this information should be designed in a way that relevant users can gain access from remote locations, and on mobile devices.

Often the information we need to create excellent workforce plans is right in front of us – tied up in unwieldy spreadsheets and impenetrable tables of numbers. But with an investment in the right tools, we can begin making sense of the vast amounts of data we collect, and begin using it tour advantage to drive our organisation into the future.

This article was written by Presence of IT’s Pranav Birla and was published on LinkedIn.