What are Workforce Analytics?
Plenty of HR professionals understand the power and potential of using workforce analytics to help measure employee performance, gather insights into policies and systems, and share key information with organizational leaders. Workforce analytics can also help drive recruiting and retention decisions.
However, the word ‘analytics’ can throw some HR professionals for a loop, and make it seem like certain things are best left for the more technically inclined. As it turns out, you might already be gathering and using workforce analytics, even if things don’t feel particularly geeky to you.
WHAT ARE WORKFORCE ANALYTICS?
For the most part, the phrase refers to the use of software and methodology in order to gather worker-related information for the purpose of improving the way companies manage human resource.
Workforce analytics involves the use of surveys, project management tools, and time and attendance solutions to help measure employee engagement and performance. Employers can use this data to help figure out how likely employees are to leave, or whether or not their workers are happy. Low numbers indicate that it’s time to take a hard look at the organization for ways to improve HR practices.
For example, HR, managers, and senior leaders might rely on very basic workforce analytics in order to:
- Improve hiring
- Retain talent
- Avoid turnover
- Test out new policies
- Solve workflow challenges
- Enhance collaboration
One popular way that many workplaces gather analytics comes from employee surveys. Doing so can help leaders measure employee engagement, start meaningful conversations, and build synergy in your workplace culture—all while making employees feel that management is willing to listen.
How can you build simple solutions into the way you gather data and insight from employees? Keep reading to discover three tips to help you get started.
STANDARD PRACTICES IN WORKFORCE ANALYTICS
When you put workforce analytics to use, people at every level can benefit. That even includes job candidates. That’s because workforce analytics help deliver a variety of rich, useful data you can use to:
- Streamline your recruiting message
- Speed up the interview process
- Connect new hires with onboarding experiences
- Make sure current employees get the training and mentoring they need
Almost all HR leaders would want these kinds of positive outcomes in their workforce. However, when it comes to relying on workforce analytics to create these results, there’s a lot of uncertainty:
- How far down the data hole do I have to go until I gain answers?
- What solutions should I rely on?
- Do I need a third-party platform to do things right?
- Where can I find time to take on a new initiative?
- How will I get buy-in from senior leaders?
The following three tips can help you answer these questions and more.
1. Decide what you want to focus on
Your organization is teeming with employee-driven data that you could put to use. But what information do you want? What matters most to your organization right now? And, why does it matter?
To start, keep in mind that whenever you gather data from employees, it should help craft business strategy, make key decisions, and plan for the future. So, whether you are looking to launch, enhance, or fortify your current use of workforce analytics, begin with the ground work.
Are you looking to solve workforce challenges? Consider questions like:
- Have you or another member of leadership identified a blind spot that the organization needs to correct?
- Has recruiting dried up?
- Has retention become an issue?
- Are employees disengaged with their work?
Or, do you need data that will help support a future decisions? Consider the following:
- Has there been a market change you need to respond to?
- Is the organization considering a merger, or acquisition?
- Is your workforce agile enough to handle a pivot? If not, what gaps do you need to fill through recruiting or training?
When you consider and answer such questions ahead of time, you can avoid falling into the trap of just gathering data for data’s sake. Most importantly, your answers can help you build a business case that you can take to leadership in order to get buy in.
2. Move from one-offs to standard practices
Lots of organizations turn to workforce analytics in a one-off, or now-and-again fashion. Doing so can help shed light on challenge, or answer a pressing question.
However, what many organizations discover is that, when used in a consistent, ongoing way, workforce analytics can produce lasting benefits across the organization.
- While the occasional employee survey can offer insight into a current situation, checking in more regularly—be it weekly, monthly, or quarterly—can open up new channels for employee communication and trust.
Taking the pulse of your employee population is always a good idea. Using email to do so can give employees a chance to communicate more freely, as they can consider their answers before they write.
- Depending on how technical you want to be, some automated survey solutions are adaptive. These systems will ask additional questions in order to unpack certain answers.
Connecting with employees on a consistent basis can help you and other members of leadership stay in the know, and keep ahead of issues related to performance, challenges, or times when some employees want to take on new challenges.
3. Prepare to explain why you’re using workforce analytics
As we wrote above, some people worry about the intrusiveness of gathering workforce analytics, even when the process you use comes in the form of a casual email survey. Unfortunately, this lack of trust influence the way workers respond to your effort.
Like many things in the modern workplace, a little bit of transparency can go a long way toward building trust. Let your employees know things like:
- What your efforts are all about, whether it’s to help recruiting, retention, employee engagement, or something else.
- Let people know how your efforts will benefit them, while also helping the organization.
- If possible, show the link between your efforts, and other ways that your organization is focused on being more employee-centric.
- Empower managers with key points they can communicate with their direct reports.
Your use of workforce analytics can help improve the way your people, workgroups, and departments function at every level of your organization. Whether you’re facing challenges related to performance management, training, recruiting, or retention, the answers you need might live in the data all around you.