Many companies are turning to data to better understand employee interactions, improve collaboration, and optimize engagement efforts all while trying to retain their best and brightest. The elephant in the room, and the one thing that gets glossed over as we search for answers, is that it requires a lot of effort to process and act on data — especially people data! And data for the sake of data does little to nothing to help you make more informed decisions.
That being said, people data is one of the most powerful tools companies can use to understand their employees. In fact, 69% of organizations in Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report said they were building integrated systems to analyze worker-related data. Yet with the mountains of information readily available at companies today, we’re still struggling to act on it. So how do we as leaders make people data actionable to build high-performing cultures and rewarding and purpose-filled workplaces? It starts by understanding the impact of data on the people in our organization.
The use of people data has grown exponentially over the past few years and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. If companies leverage their people data appropriately, they have a unique opportunity to change their organization for the better and impact key performance areas like revenue, productivity, and retention.
Now with the power of data in our hands, we have two options: 1) hide behind it and say we’re “data driven,” but in reality we’re allowing the data to drive us; or 2) make actionable decisions that truly impact people – i.e., decisions that enhance the employee experience.
Employee experience analytics
The focus on human capital and the overall employee experience has led to a major overhaul in the way companies look at their employees. And this change has brought in the rise of people analytics. According to (a proprietary 2017 report) the Corporate Research Forum, three out of five large organizations now have people analytics teams who are tasked with extracting insights from an increasingly complex HR technology stack – which will only become more important in people management as companies continue to develop and mature.
In addition, a LinkedIn study found there has been a three-fold increase since 2013 in the number of HR professionals in North America who list analytics skills in their profiles. What does all this mean? As businesses continue to evolve, people data will be the future for the modern workplace and those that don’t use it to their advantage will be lost in the shuffle.
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Start by listening
While each of our organizations strives to lead our industry, we need to prioritize the human capital element of our business to win the market. One of the easiest ways to start incorporating people data into your organization is through employee feedback or continuous listening. As leaders, our role is to rethink the way we collect and act on feedback in order to give employees the opportunity to voice their opinions and feel heard. Companies that have a continuous listening plan in place — simple or robust — will not only see less turnover and more motivation among employees, but they’ll also be able to say with confidence, “This is what our employees want and need from us, and we have the data to prove it.”
Taking it a step further, people data can also help you identify your top talent or uncover key contributors that you might not know about. For example, if you use employee recognition software, analytics can provide company leaders visibility into the engagement levels at the individual, team, and department levels. With this kind of data, you’re able to tell who your top performers are based on the amount and type of recognition they are receiving while also uncovering key players within your organization who are making an impact that may have gone unnoticed otherwise. When companies use people data properly, there’s a richness in it that is truly valuable to building people-focused and data-driven organizations.
Be transparent about the data
The future of people data is all about the continuous cycle of information from employees, analysis from HR, and action from business leaders, but the hard part about people data is that it involves, well, people! There’s a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the market when it comes to revealing personal data and information. People in general are more on guard with what they share when there’s a chance (no matter how small) it may be used against them. That’s why it is important for companies to be transparent about when, where, why, and how they’re collecting data from their employees and what that information will be used for.
While companies today are armed with tons of people data, that data is meaningless unless we’re able to add crucial context to it. When a company is able to extract insights from data to adapt people strategies, it can be transformative. And businesses that are effective in this are turning to data to solve problems ranging from workforce planning, turnover, recruiting, and how people feel about their company culture, among other uses. There are endless opportunities for businesses to tap into the power of analytics to put employees first and make our companies more human focused — are you ready to give it a try?