Employee data is one of the most important resources available to your company. This is because it exposes underused office expertise, measures the effectiveness of your recruiting and training programmes and shows patterns in overall employee efficiency. All of which translates into the same thing: time, effort and money saved for your business. But if your human resources department simply collects data without making good use of it, you might miss a great opportunity. It is crucial in today’s data-driven economy that your business knows how to capitalise on its current and incoming employee data. This is the reason why employee data is a treasure for every organisation.
Many organisations have large quantities of useful employee data and some executives understand the ability to use this data to boost productivity, inspire employees and engage them. However, some employees are a bit sceptical about organisations collecting and using their data. Harvard Business Review surveyed more than 10,000 employees in 13 countries and 13 sectors, spanning all skill levels and generations, including 1400 C-level executives. They found that over 90% of workers are willing to allow their employers to collect and use data about them and their jobs, but only if they benefit in some way. Employees harboured serious concerns about how businesses will use the data.
For good reasons, just 30% of executives whose businesses use data from the employee reported being extremely confident that they use the data responsibly. So much is at stake when it comes to abuse of employee data. The Harvard Business Review survey assessed how employee trust increases or decreases with respect to 31 employee data activities, and then they created an economic model to assess the impact of levels of confidence on revenue. They found that if companies lose their people’s confidence, they risk losing 6% of current sales growth. In the other hand, higher confidence, or a “confidence dividend,” is worth more than a rise in sales growth of 6%. These problems resulting from the processing and extraction of employee data have been given equal attention by few.
What is employee data?
Employee data applies to any information the organisation gathers about its employees. It includes but is not limited to the basic identity information (age, ethnicity, or gender of the employees), as well as in-depth workplace performance information. Most organisations usually track:
- Employees’ work status (part-time, full time, contract, freelance, etc.)
- Employee attendance records – absenteeism figures
- Commuting distance and method
- Amount and history of compensation
- Length of employment
- Overall performance
- Recruitment data
- Career progression data
- Training data
- Productivity data
- Personal development reviews
- Competency profiles
- Staff satisfaction data
Employee data is a guide for areas never visited by an organisation. These unfamiliar destinations may seem like a tad off the beaten track at first, or to others. Most average Human Resources teams are sitting on a data gold mine, which is the theme for Bernard Marr’s book on Data-Driven HR.
Organisations can now gather so much more data in addition to conventional HR data sets, which include monitoring social media data, for example, or analysing email content to gauge employee sentiment. The perspectives gained from employee data guide decisions and plans for people managers, HR practitioners, the management team and wider organisation. Is this the only reason why employee data is important?
Why is employee data important?
Using HR data can be legally and ethically difficult but extremely useful. Lots of HR data in the past went unused or, if used, was placed into charts and tables for anything like a corporate success kit. Today, businesses are converting their data into insights in the age of big data and analytics, such as predicting when employees will leave, where to hire the most suitable candidates from, how to find and retain those suitable candidates, and how to keep them satisfied once they become employees. It is now bringing value to the organisations when HR data is used to strengthen decisions, make employees happy and optimise processes.
All of this means HR data is more important than ever. It is no surprise that an Economist Intelligence Unit study found that 82% of organisations expected to either start or expand their use of big data in Hailed. This has given rise to intelligent HR. HR teams can use data to make better HR decisions, better understand and evaluate people’s business effects, enhance people-related decision-making through leadership, make HR processes and operations more efficient and effective, and improve employees’ overall well-being and performance. All of this can have an immense impact on the ability of an organisation to achieve its strategic goals and that is what makes this data so important. This idea of the data-driven HR team is gaining momentum, and a data-fueled revolution is underway in HR and people management.
Employee data also points the way towards stronger partnerships between employee and employer, the path towards greater involvement. HR specialists, employee data managers, need to be strategic analysts with the ability to consider various forms of statistics and different ways of applying information into day-to-day operations and longer-term strategies to get there. It is a well-known fact of the industry that more than half of voluntary quits occur within one year of beginning and that 40% of new hires leave within six months.
It also points to where organisations can try harder to pull up their socks. These results, requested right from the get-go, will help increase organisations retention rates while at the same time conveying how much the views of a new employee are respected. Answer analysis may show a disconnection between promises in recruiting and real work experiences. Some divisions or units can have lower retention rates than others. Employee data can show gaps in management, work/life imbalances, insufficient resources for personal growth and development, and other problem areas that can affect and improve the organisation.
Hard numbers and data analysis are increasingly driving this aspect of the organisations which has historically concentrated on softer elements such as people, community, learning and growth and employee engagement. Therefore, speaking of change whether an organisation implements new policies, or finds itself amid change management or a merger, data gathered from fast one-off pulse surveys will elicit input from workers to notify leaders about how these kinds of changes will be perceived or how they will be embraced after the fact. Timely employee data encourages mobility and nimbleness.
What are the uses of employee data?
Here is how your employees’ data can be used in your organisation:
- Link your employee data to your other business key performance indicators such as productivity measures, financial data and customer feedback.
- Help understand the dynamics, correlations and causations that exist so that you can make the very best-informed decisions for your business.
- Pinpoint your drivers for increasing employee engagement and raising levels of customer service.
- Measure and evaluate the return on investment or expectation of your training spend.
- Develop interactive dashboards and reports for your use that will provide real-time data.
- Present your data in a way that will be easy to understand – information can be truly beautiful.
- Coach and support your team by transferring our skills and expertise into your business.
- Articulate an ethics code grounded in culture
How to maintain security of employee data
If you are a member of the Human Resources department, you already have a good sense of the value of the personal details of the employees’. If scam artists can wreak havoc with a single voided check or credit card number, it is not difficult to imagine the harm they can do to the motherlode of confidential personal information that is the responsibility of any HR department. Here are a few tips for employers to help keep the employee data secure:
- Train everyone who has access to employee data to take steps to keep them secure. This includes utilising the locks on storage cabinets, securing workstations with passwords, and locking those workstations when stepping away from them.
- Train employees on how to avoid phishing attempts from outside organisations. Many data breaches are the result of individual employees being phished—and thus the perpetrator gaining access to either their system or their passwords.
- Ensure managerial training includes components on employee data privacy.
- Train teams on the confidentiality requirements of medical information and how that impacts their work.
- Ensure HR staff and anyone else who keeps or has access to employee records know which records should be filed separately from the main employee file.
- Encourage the HR team to stay up to date on future legal changes. This may include subscribing to relevant newsletters, attending conferences, etc. The key is to find ways to be proactive and aware of regulatory changes. This tip is for both federal and state/local changes.
- Periodically audit the privacy controls and access levels for all types of sensitive employee data. Spot-check to ensure the data cannot be easily accessed by someone who shouldn’t have that access.
- Ensure the appropriate IT professionals are included in the implementation of any new software that will store sensitive employee data. There should be safeguards in place to reduce the risk of data breaches or unauthorised access.
- Have policies in place to encourage proper safeguarding of data in general. For example, review policies for employee passwords to ensure they’re being changed at an appropriate frequency.
- Work with IT to have complete response plans in the case of a data breach. Ensure steps are taken to discover such a breach quickly.
Truly intelligent or employee data-driven HR focuses HR data and analytics on the organisation-wide goal of adding value and driving performance – all the time, not just now and then or on specific projects. The top priority with smart, data-driven people management is to add value to the organization in the smartest way possible, using all the tools available to the HR team: data, sensors, analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and more. The position of the HR team is evolving and, as our capacity to collect and analyse ever-increasing volumes of data is rising, the opportunities for HR teams to add value to the enterprise are also rising. That is what makes it a valuable asset to HR info.