· Features

The value of employee data

We have access to such rich data. Why is it being ignored?

Employees can be both the most valuable asset to an organisation, and also, potentially, the most costly. Every business leader will claim to be aware of this, but it isn’t always followed through with the required level of attention or resources.

Research recently commissioned by Rosslyn Analytics found that only 11% of business leaders identified employee data as the most valuable within an organisation – lower than any other type. Not only that, but as little as 15% of HR professionals said they used data all of the time to help them deliver on goals and inform business decisions.

So with the potential to access such rich data, why is it being ignored and how can HR professionals learn to love their data?

For years the HR department has been reliant on basic information to try and satisfy the organisation’s needs. Technology has improved the recruitment process through online searches and social media, making it easier to connect the right people with the right jobs. However, internally organisations are still reliant on traditional appraisals and employee surveys to gather intelligence about how their staff feel. This information is often fragmented, dispersed and difficult to analyse as a whole.

As the employee market becomes more competitive – with organisations having to fight for the top talent – effectively retaining your employees is a must. As with clients, it’s far easier and more cost effective to retain those you already have rather than compete for new business. HR strategies should evolve to keep up with the demands and needs of the workforce. HR no longer has a one-size-fits-all solution, and each employee should be understood and managed in a different way.

Employee happiness is a key factor for organisations. It’s been proven to drive productivity and leads to employee retention. However, organisations and academics alike are still unsure as to exactly what makes an employee happy: Is it their job satisfaction; a sense of responsibility; colleagues or perks of the job? Data can be used to assess the impact of different initiatives to see if they have an influence or not (and measure how much). After all, why spend budget on something that isn’t going to have a positive effect?

Analytics tools can also be combined with external data to enrich what is already held within the company. For example, information such as the home address of employees can be used alongside external data to help tailor transport systems and understand when problems might arise. The HR team would then be able to warn relevant employees about strike action or engineering works that might affect their journey. Going further, a historical analysis of employee retention rates, location of universities and competitors can be used to run a more targeted recruitment campaign.

In such a data-rich department, it seems wasteful to simply ignore this information. The HR role is no longer about being reactive to situations, it should be looking ahead at what could be achieved and how to streamline processes. By overlooking the data collected the department will not only fall behind internally, but also fall behind in the fight for talent. There is a wealth of data already available; it’s a question of using it in the right way demonstrating to the wider organisation and leadership team just how much of an important asset it really is.

Morag Woodliffe is HR director at Rosslyn Analytics and principal at People Puzzles