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HR not collecting enough data to understand employees

Most companies (67%) don't gather enough meaningful data to understand employee engagement and performance, research by XpertHR has found.

Absence management data was the most common metric used by HR departments, as 86.8% of businesses surveyed kept track of this.

Staff turnover data (84.7%), exit interview feedback (83.9%) and results of staff surveys (79.8%) are also commonly recorded by companies.

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Sharon Benson, HR director at educational institution Edison Young People, suggested the reason behind the lack of data is that companies underestimate its importance.

Speaking to HR magazine, Benson said: "Almost all HR functions I’ve joined in my career have not allocated time or resource to collate, review and analyse people data and in some instances have not captured any data at all. 

"Collating all the relevant people and business metrics is the first place I start when I join an organisation as it provides a benchmark of where we are now and also provides key insights of where we need to focus our efforts and attentions."

Benson added that companies using detailed analysis would be more effective for problem solving than loosely tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) companywide.

Key metrics such as time to fill vacancies (36%), cost per hire (32%), and the time it takes for an employee to become competent at their role (9%) were the least used by companies, despite their value in recruitment and retention strategy. 

HR departments spend just 4% of their time collecting and analysing data.

Noelle Murphy, senior HR practice editor at XpertHR, said that the metrics recorded were not being used to their full potential.

She told HR magazine: "While there may be data on sickness absence rates within organisations, HR struggles to translate these rates into accurate costs, generally due to barriers around accessing the required financial information that may lay in different parts of the business.

"By moving data around absence rates onto a more relatable and accurate business cost, HR can not only demonstrate the importance of such data to the business, but also make the case of investment in absence management and employee wellbeing."

Murphy also suggested that data collection from HR departments could be used to tackle recruitment issues.

She said: "With the great resignation and the war for talent in full swing, this is the perfect opportunity for HR to illustrate its strategic credentials by harnessing the data they have and translating it into business costs and savings.

"While the desire for data remains strong within HR, it has to be a priority to put robust processes in place to easily gather the data they need to support business development.”

XpertHR surveyed 154,517 employees across 242 companies between November 2021 and January 2022.