4 Tips to Make Data-Driven HR Practices the Norm
Using data within HR is a hot topic and many HR professionals want to ensure they’re keeping up with the latest developments.
Developing data-driven HR practices can elevate your function and position HR as a strategic partner in the business.
If you want to implement data-driven thinking to leverage powerful insights, then we have some key tips to get you started.
Target the Most Valuable Information for Your Organisation
There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to gathering data, as you should tailor your strategy to align with organisational goals. This requires a keen sense of what’s important to the business now and what will be in question in the future.
Don’t despair if you don’t have this acute perception quite yet, as you’ll develop this thinking as you implement these practices.
As you begin to collect data, you may be tempted to try to record and analyse every metric you can find. However, this can become overwhelming for you and for those that you present the data to.
This can lead to a case of analysis paralysis, as the data overwhelms you and you’re not able to do anything productive with it. Don’t spread yourself too thin; focus in on the metrics that have the biggest impact on the bottom line.
Sickness frequency, staff turnover, productivity, and employee engagement are all metrics that affect the organisation’s ability to turn a profit. Start with these metrics and build up a picture of what’s happening at your organisation and how you can turn any negative effects around.
Different departments will also have unique metrics that you can home in on, like customer satisfaction, supply chain errors, and missed deadlines.
By collating this information, you can begin to see areas for improvement and further investigation. For example, call centre employees have lower customer satisfaction rating and a poor absence record. On investigation, you find out that adequate training and resources are not being made available to these employees.
These conditions have led to lower employee engagement rates and a general feeling of frustration within the department. Now, you can suggest training programmes and upgraded resources for employees to improve how they interact with customers.
By collating this data, you can address the business needs as they change and grow. A C-suite directive to improve customer service can be augmented by this data, as you can go beyond speculation and offer hard data.
This gives the directive more power and a higher likelihood of succeeding, as you have a better understanding of what exactly needs to change. You can also use this as leverage to get buy in from managers, as they can see the concrete data that supports the need to change.
Share Information with Other Departments
This information isn’t useful if you silo it within your department; you have to be ready to share and explain it with those also impacted by the data. If you neglect to share information, or if you make it too complicated for others to understand, then this information won’t be as powerful as it could be.
A regular briefing may be appropriate for managers of volatile departments, as they may benefit from increased insight. For others in the hierarchy of the organisation, a quarterly check in may be more appropriate.
This exchange of information can prove useful for both parties and equip you with a better understanding of the situation. This gives you clearer context for your recommendations, making them more accurate and helpful.
With the right exchange of information, you can anticipate trends and issues before they happen. This allows you to work with others to remedy potentially business damaging scenarios, while they are still manageable. For example, if you have your finger on the pulse when staff turnover begins to rise, you can take steps to remove the issue that’s causing staff to leave.
This can also improve the impression of the HR process within other departments. Using and distributing this information can position HR as a strategic partner within the organisation, which can even lead to a better presence in the boardroom.
Use Metrics to Illustrate Your Point
Metrics can show interesting patterns and trends, but you need to collate these in a relevant way. The information that you gather will be most effective if used to illustrate a point, as you tie different metrics together to create a narrative.
This involves some interpretation and analysis, to boil down the facts and extract the relevant outcome. However, as you do this more often, you’ll become more comfortable with the process. Approach the metrics without preconceived notions, as these can lead to confirmation bias.
Instead, look for correlation between the data that you have collected. While this doesn’t automatically equal causation, you can begin to note likely contributing factors.
For example, a member of staff has been promoted to manager level and this correlates to a dip in customer satisfaction metrics. You may initially believe that the manager needs further training, but in fact when you examine the turnover rate you find out that the department has lost several experienced call operators.
In this case, you may recommend further training for the team and the hiring of new employees. This would be a more effective solution than simply training the manager. Use the data to start your investigation and then further this by undertaking further research into the situation.
Once you have the conclusion of your research, you want to present it in an easily-digestible format. This is your chance to make your point, using the evidence that you have gathered. Stick to the facts but use a narrative to link them with your findings and recommendations.
Automate Your Processes
It takes a significant amount of time and resources to collect this data manually, so look for ways to automate your processes as much as possible. Using a comprehensive HR software solution can allow you to export this data in just a few moments.
This is a simple way to give you metrics on sick days, holidays, HR complaints, productivity, and more.
Integrating management software with other departments will make it more powerful, as you gain additional data from line and department managers. If they track and input their own metrics, it’s even easier for HR to draw upon accurate data.
Streamline these processes using HR software and you’ll free up time for managers too. Tracking absences and holidays in this manner can create a uniform process, which should be used through the entire organisation.
On top of this, you can gather more qualitative data with regular staff surveys, interviews with managers, and learning and development outcomes. When these different types of research are combined, you can accurately present an accurate view of the organisation at a glance.
Setting up a monthly staff survey is a simple process; you can use polling sites like Survey Monkey or Doodle to set up a recurring survey that takes into account the general feeling of the workplace.
These surveys can be tailored to individual levels, with different questions for managers and directors. Anonymous polls can lead to more honest results, which can also be insightful.
Creating a culture of transparency and feedback can also greatly improve employee engagement. If senior management and HR are seen to act upon feedback in a constructive way, then employees will be happier and more productive overall.
Data-driven HR practices have the potential to transform the HR function within your organisation. Take these tips to collate effective, valuable information and share it throughout the hierarchy.