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Finding the Balance in People Analytics 59

Some extraordinary statistics came to light earlier in the year that suggested that 40% of HR Professionals still use manual methods to track and store their personnel data. On the contrary, we are hearing from experts in the HR industry who talk about reporting and statistical tools and the role they play in workforce efficiency, with them using buzzwords such as ‘People Analytics’, ‘Predictive Analytics’ and ‘Big Data’.

In a recent article for The Independent, Rhodri Marsden talked about the darker side of pushing the data too far on a quest to drive better productivity. This puts into question the accountability of the data – who is monitoring the measuring?

Can misinterpretation of data lead to unrealistic expectations?

Marsden cited an article by the New York Times – an expose which alleged to the cut-throat working practices of Amazon and their “performance-improvement plans”.

So how can we find a balance, whereby data can be used in a productive way to benefit both the employer and employee?

Keeping personnel data personal
By virtue of using the manual method to keep employee records, one could seemingly be more in touch with their data. The question is, how in touch can one be with their personnel and their needs, when the amount of time required to administer the manual records could stifle any opportunity to implement a HR strategy.

On the other hand, ‘Big Data’ can be highly complex and seen as something that should be dealt with by data analysts, even mathematicians.

Admittedly many HR and Payroll teams may not be handling the same level of data as corporate giants such as Amazon, but with developments in HRMS, the profession now has an ever increasing level of metrics at its fingertips, which could have a significant impact in the boardroom.

As providers of HR Software we have a vested interest in this subject. It would be naive of us not to look towards creating a solution that gives our clients greater insight into their workforce, to the point of improving organisational efficiency. We would even go as far to say that, for many years now,we have offered the functionality for its users to report, react and respond to workforce behaviour. But to what extent should we allow this data to influence and predict organisational change?

There are many case studies to date of where implementation of our software has led to, at the very least, departmental efficiency – the intuitive technology contains intelligent tools to help alleviate many administrative burdens. However, we are working with more HR Managers and Directors than ever, who are implementing strategies which are bringing about significant changes to the business. And the role of the HR technology has been instrumental to this.

Developments in Workflow and Self Service have enabled HR departments to create better cohesion across an organisation’s workforce. It places more responsibilities on line managers and employees. So processes such as appraisals, holidays and absences can be dealt with by those who are closer to the individuals, making it much easier to pick up on workforce behaviour. At the same time all that crucial data is being stored and utilised at a higher board level to understand more business-wide trends.

Through using HR Software, one client rolled out an innovative new absence management strategy. It saved the company £291,000 as a result. But what was more remarkable, was the long term benefits the strategy brought to both the employer and the employees. By using the software to scrutinise absenteeism within the workplace, it identified those who suffered from long term illness and helped to integrate them back into employment under more suitable conditions.

A recent poll of our users revealed that topics such as employee engagement and retention were top of the agenda for 2015. We think this speaks volumes. While workforce efficiency is important and having all this data can help to make strategic change, happy employees are essential. We are in an environment where we need to retain our skilled workforce. Using data to assist us in a better understanding of our staff is the way forward, but we shouldn’t be taking the personal out of personnel.

And therein lies the balance…

(c) New To HR {is not affiliated}

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Maddie Agnew

Maddie Agnew

Outreach Executive at Cascade HR
Maddie Agnew is an outreach executive for Cascade Human Resources Ltd. Cascade is an award winning provider of HR and Payroll Software. We have been working with HR professionals for over a decade to produce the most innovative HR Software Solutions. We understand the changing demands of human resources, and have continuously evolved to meet those needs. We are a team of HR experts who are passionate about HR.
Maddie Agnew

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