Data is king in the digital age
It’s a bold statement but one that is undeniably true.
Thanks to improvements in technology, HR managers now have easy access to a treasure chest of information which, if used correctly, can have a hugely positive impact on how businesses grow.
If you’ve read any of our recent blog posts, you’ll understand just how much technology has impacted upon the HR profession over the last few decades – from enabling a shift from HR reporting toward HR analysis and protecting employee data; to reporting on gender pay gaps or managing staff performances.
And when it comes to making HR relevant across the wider business context, technology steps in again…
Making the most of our people data
As an invaluable employee analysis tool, data can provide HR managers with more, actionable insights than ever before.
After all, people are still the biggest asset for any company.
Yet using technology to collect this data is just the first step.
The next, and most important, step is to understand and interpret this data – then apply it to all aspects of people management, as well as across the business as a whole.
“One of HR’s main responsibilities is identifying ways that the organisation can get the best investment from its human capital” – CoreHR
While the analysis of people data through the use of systems and processes is not a new concept; recent research conducted by the CIPD shows that the HR profession has:
“…only recently started to utilise new technologies to use people data more strategically.”
More work needs to be done in changing the mindset of many HR teams; i.e. encouraging them to view data not just as a set of figures, but as a vital part of understanding how people can contribute to wider business objectives.
The next hurdle is ensuring that the right training and support is available for them to do this.
Developing the right skills to interpret data
It’s true that many experienced HR teams lack up to date analytical skills – because until now, they simply haven’t needed them.
But that’s not to say that up-skilling is impossible.
There is a wealth of information, along with several factsheets, available on the CIPD website, and we believe that we’ll soon start to see analytics, strategy and business development become an integral part of ongoing CPD activities.
It’s not just for the ‘big boys’
A common miscomprehension is that data collection and analytics are only relevant to large organisations; with the CIPD finding that it is:
“often confined to large, resource-rich organisations.”
Their study also showed that these approaches, often termed ‘best practice’, remain very much out of reach for many HR professionals (CIPD).
This doesn’t have to be the case.
Yes, data collection can be easier and obtained more efficiently in organisations that have invested in a modern HRIS; but for smaller businesses and SMEs, there are several quick and easy ways in which you can collect and use data to make more strategic business decisions.
For example – think about how you communicate with your employees.
If your company only collects employee feedback annually (perhaps via traditional appraisals), your data may be weaker than you think. Not only could it be open to bias thanks to the personal reporting style of a line manager, but it only provides you with a snapshot of employee opinion at one time.
If you want to improve accuracy and reliability of data, why not conduct regular pulse surveys on a monthly or bi-monthly basis?
Not only will this give you stronger insights into employee opinion, but by collecting regular feedback, you can start to analyse trends and make predictions.
A dedicated HR system will certainly make this process easier, however.
Thanks to automation, you can schedule surveys and improve communication, but there are free online tools available such as Slack, Trello or even Survey Monkey which can be just as useful for smaller teams.
Using the right system for your needs
The biggest challenge for HR teams when collecting data is the ongoing issue of duplication; if your organisation has separate HR, payroll and IT systems, you may face a higher risk of data becoming lost due to system mismanagement or simple human error.
An integrated system can help you address some of these issues – for more insights into the benefits of integrated vs stand alone HR & Payroll systems, read our recent blog article or view our infographic .
Or, for further advice on both selecting, and making the most of your HRIS when it comes to collecting data, contact our team of specialist consultants today.