How to Get Results with HR Data Collection

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HR data can provide a trove of information if interpreted correctly and used to define future goals and actions. Raphael Crawford-Marks, founder and CEO of Bonusly, provides three critical steps to getting results with HR data collection.

As HR and business leaders who leverage software and enterprise technology day-in and day-out, data gathering and analysis is an essential and growing part of our job. There is a massive drive to collect, track, and analyze as much as possible.

It’s our responsibility to use HR data in the right way, but what does the “right way” look like? And how do we make the most of the data we already collect (which is a lot!)?

3 Steps to Leveraging HR Data for Meaningful Results

Here are a few ways to do good with the data that your company likely already has and how to get employees bought in on the data train.

1. Be a good data steward

Being a good steward of employee data boils down to two things: security and transparency.

It’s easy to collect data. The hard part is keeping it safe.

In the era of high-profile data breaches, GDPR, and CCPA, businesses need to balance the benefit of collecting employee data with the expense and risk of keeping it safe. This sentiment extends to third-party vendors. Some of last year’s most significant data breaches, including Facebook’s privacy snafuOpens a new window , were the result of vendors’ actions. Asking your vendors the right questions is a crucial step in keeping your employees and data safe.

  • Are we prepared for a data breach?
  • Who has access to our data, and who are our sub-processors?
  • How are we capturing our data, and do we have the right level of consent?
  • Do we have a way to monitor and detect security incidents continuously?
  • Do we have the required security certifications?

The other side of good data stewardship is transparency. Consumers want more controlOpens a new window over how their data is used. Your employees are no different. Companies collect valuable and confidential employee data like financial information, benefits, compensation, and company communications. Whatever data you’re collecting, make sure employees know you’re collecting it, and how you’re using it. Share your privacy policies with your employees – frequently. When new tools are introduced, make data and your privacy policies a part of onboarding.

Don’t know where to start with data security and transparency? Consider hiring a privacy consultant or relying on vendors certified through an established protocol like SOC 2. Developed by the American Institute of CPAs, SOC 2 is an auditing procedure that defines criteria for managing data based on security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

Learn More: Should You Build or Buy HR Dashboard Apps?

2. Do good with what you’ve got

With data comes great responsibility – but also great power.

You can glean a wealth of information from the data your HR systems already collect and from the employee surveys you already conduct.

System data

Your HRIS stores information on your employees that can be analyzed to uncover areas of opportunity, especially around diversity. For example, your compensation data can reveal pay discrepancies across gender. Employee demographics can show if you tend to hire people of a certain age, or if there is a lack of racial diversity in leadership positions. Compare your numbers to industry norms to see where there are areas of growth for your company.

Your recruiting data will also offer some powerful insights. Candidate demographics can uncover if you are unknowingly discriminating against certain groups or underscore a need to recruit differently. Your time to hire data can show if there is a bottleneck in your hiring process that’s causing you to miss out on qualified candidates.

Data analysis can extend into your day-to-day, as well. Absenteeism and hours tracked can uncover if an employee is struggling with their workload, disengaged, or planning an exit. An organization graphOpens a new window can reveal how departments are working together and where there are opportunities for collaboration, innovation, or recognizing contributions to the business or to each other.

Survey data

In addition to HRIS data, your company likely administers regular surveys to gauge the sentiment and performance of employees.

Employee engagement surveys show where your teams are at and provide an understanding of what areas to improve. Simple, right? But these surveys are actually a treasure trove of data.

Does one department have consistently lower engagement scores than others? It’s time to do some sleuthing. You may find a manager that needs some retaining or a department that needs more resources. The same goes for positive engagement scores. If one group has higher scores, it could indicate some successful engagement tactics that could be extended to other parts of the company.

Performance data holds similar potential. Look for employees outpacing their goals. What can you learn from them? Data can uncover plenty of opportunities to share learnings with a wider team. For instance, are there profitable projects that the employee is contributing to? If so, surface the processes used for the project and consider replicating them again in the future. Search for areas where employees may be struggling. You may identify trends across the board that point to a systemic problem. Consider professional development opportunities like special training and individual coaching to improve performance, help people upskill, or grow into new roles.

Learn More: 20 Essential Employee Engagement Survey Questions for Your 2020 Questionnaire

3. Show the good coming from data

Showing your employees how they benefit from the data they are providing is an essential step in using data for good. The ultimate goal of data collection is to improve your business. And it’s your responsibility to develop an environment to encourage and protect the data that employees provide. If you fail here, employees will be less inclined to provide honest and open feedback.

Employees are more likely to be bought in when they know data collection is being used to improve their lives. We see this almost every day with the companies we work with and the HR processes they use. Regular surveys are a common way for companies to gather feedback from their employees. Companies who show the good they’re doing with that data are the ones who openly communicated themes in the feedback. They also follow this up with concrete action.

It seems like a simple thing, but it goes a long way towards creating a more open and transparent company culture.

Learn More: 4 Essential Use Cases for People Analytics During the COVID-19 Crisis

Using Data for Good Is About Responsibility

The power of data is strong, and the urge to collect it can be alluring. Take a step back and ask yourself, am I collecting this data to leverage it for the good of our employees? Is it the right data to collect? Once you can answer those questions in the affirmative, protect the data you collect, analyze it, and communicate how you are using it with your team. Data is a powerful tool – do some good with it!

How are you using HR data to tackle human capital challenges? Share your experience with us on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window .