How to Use Data to Make Better Workplace Decisions


HR departments are managing multiple responsibilities and demands on their time, while also grappling with how to take advantage of the vast workplace data they receive. Littler’s Scott Forman discusses how HR can leverage new technologies to deliver efficiencies and actionable insights.

HR managers are fielding a constant stream of employment questions and responding to an ever-growing list of issues that arise in an evolving workplace. Finding the bandwidth to thoroughly and promptly address every question can be challenging – but missing even minor issues can expose the company to potential monetary and reputational risk.

In addition to managing multiple responsibilities and demands on their time, HR departments are the recipients of vast amounts of data from across their organizations – data that often goes unused. That means there is a significant untapped opportunity within organizations to analyze HR data to uncover insights that benefit the company, potentially creating a more positive work environment, increasing employee engagement and retention, and identifying and mitigating risks.

This article explores two ways HR departments can use technology and data-driven solutions to provide more consistent and high-quality counsel across their organizations and to leverage their own data to make better workplace decisions.

Creating a Knowledge Bank

The first step in taking advantage of the power of data analytics is gathering all relevant information in one place. Looking specifically at the challenges that come with the increasing volume of workplace legal questions, HR departments should work to capture all of the questions they receive and the associated responses in a single online platform. Then, they can draw upon the platform to answer similar queries in the future. Many employee questions and workplace issues follow similar themes, meaning a unified resource can provide consistency in how matters are addressed, as well as efficiency in the response process.

This approach helps HR managers respond to questions a single time, as opposed to continuous, one-off responses across the company. Also, as similar questions arise from different parts of the company, HR is better positioned to provide consistent advice.

A single platform can also help ensure that institutional knowledge can be accessed 24/7. And in another nod toward consistency, a technology-based solution keeps institutional knowledge with the company in perpetuity – rather than storing it in the mind of an HR manager who may depart to another employer.

Analyze Data to Spot Trends

Once the data is collected and organized, the next step is to analyze that data to spot recurring issues and identify potential risk areas. By understanding which issues occur most frequently, HR teams can direct training and other resources to trouble spots before they develop into larger issues or result in costly litigation. Rather than providing one-off counsel as questions arise, HR teams can look at the big picture by analyzing such areas as the issues being addressed, where in the business questions are arising, and which policies or practices are implicated.

It’s clear that employers are eager for data-focused solutions. In a recent internal survey, Littler asked nearly 120 in-house counsel and HR executives based in the United States what type of insights they want their law firms to deliver via data analytics. More than two-thirds (67 percent) said they were interested in analyses of their own data to help monitor trends, identify areas of risk and guide decision-making.

And this interest goes beyond the US. In another recent surveyOpens a new window  Littler conducted of more than 550 European employers, just 24 percent of respondents said they are not using AI or data analytics to improve workforce management decisions.

Through an online portal we’ve developed to provide answers to workplace legal questions, we know that employers, armed with data-driven insights, can improve their operations in a variety of ways. For example, a company may find that individuals from across the organization are asking questions about a specific policy, signaling a need for employee training or changes to the policy itself.

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Additionally, when a user submits questions through the platform that have been asked previously, the platform immediately provides attorney responses to similar requests. If the question has not been asked before, it is triaged to determine which legal professional is best suited to provide counsel. In this way, the technology provides a connection to receive quick and knowledgeable counsel on both common and complex workplace questions, while ensuring the advice is retained as part of the company’s knowledge bank.

These are all important insights given the proliferation of HR-related technology and analytic tools that have emerged in the past several years – and as HR departments continue to be tasked to do more with less. Neither trend shows any sign of abating, so it’s never been more critical for employers to leverage new technologies to create efficiencies and generate insights that impact the company’s bottom line.

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