Learning & Development

Taking a Leap into Data Literacy

In a world that is increasingly powered by data, the ability to access, interpret, and glean insights from those data is critical. Unfortunately, that ability is scarce among workers around the world, and the data gap is widening, according to research from Accenture and Qlik.

Source: chombosan / iStock / Getty Images

The research—The Human Impact of Data Literacy—was conducted on behalf of The Data Literacy Project.

Lack of Data Literacy Hampers Productivity

The study of 9,000 employees globally indicates that companies are losing productivity due to a lack of data literacy as they struggle to make sense of the data available to them.

In fact, they’re losing an average of more than 5 working days (or 43 hours) per employee per year. That’s a loss that can add up quickly, particularly for very large organizations.

Lack of Data Literacy Impacts Engagement

The data literacy gap also threatens employee satisfaction, engagement, and ultimately tenure. The study reports that 75% of employees are overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data—and 61% say this has resulted in stress.

Worse, that stress leads to absenteeism, with 31% saying they’ve taken at least 1 day of sick leave related to data and technology issues.

Helping Employees Gain Confidence with Data

What can organizations do to help close this gap? In a news release, Jordan Morrow, Global Head of Data Literacy at Qlik and Chair of the Data Literacy Project Advisory Board, says that while companies have given employees access to data, that access has been absent the resources, tools, and training needed to work effectively with the data.

Morrow says that “expecting employees to work with data without providing the right training or appropriate tools is a bit like going fishing without the rods, bait or nets—you may have led them to water but you aren’t helping them to catch a fish.”

It’s a good analogy and one that training and development professionals are well poised to address. An important first step: Gather input from employees about their level of comfort and confidence with the data they are currently being asked to use.

Ask what type of training, education, and resources they feel they need to help them become more comfortable with those data. Determine what additional data they may need to do their jobs most effectively.

Identifying the gaps that may exist can help determine the strategies and tactics required to boost employee confidence in their use of data to stem productivity and engagement losses.

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