Diversity & Inclusion, HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting

HR Data Is a Mess: People Analytics Can Clean Up the Process

Every HR department has done it: Your team scrambles to sift through a year’s worth of data, stored in spreadsheets, e-mails, printouts, and some folder a manager left on your desk, all because head count planning is on the horizon. Why is it so hard? And how is it a headache every year?

data
Source: chombosan / iStock / Getty Images

Outdated HR processes are not keeping up with today’s pace of business, particularly over the last couple years. HR leaders need to make decisions quickly, with full context about employees. But that context is often elusive because it requires HR teams to pull data from multiple systems and patchwork it together manually, which is both time-consuming and error-prone. And after you manage to invest the time, double-check the accuracy, and make the decision, you have to start all over again. These broken processes set HR teams up for cycles of chaos instead of empowering them to spend time on the biggest, most strategic priorities.

Transparency and Accessibility Are the First Steps

According to a recent Oracle survey, less than half of HR managers consider themselves proficient in keeping their people analytics data current. Among the tasks they found fairly or very difficult were cleaning and integrating data. And nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they manually pull data from between four and seven different systems to create their people analytics reports.

Today’s companies need data transparency and accessibility if they’re going to keep up. They need nimble structures with high-level overviews that give way to granular insights—all so they can make changes at the speed of business rather than at one appointed time each year.

The bottom line is this: If you know your data, you’ll be that much closer to understanding your people. And if you know your people, you’ll be empowered to make choices that support their needs and nurture their abilities so you can provide the optimal environment for them to grow with you and strengthen your organization.

Visualized Insights Support Your Goals

So, how can you get a handle on your data? You don’t have to engage a data scientist. That same Oracle survey found that HR professionals consider interactive visualizations and graphical presentations the most effective ways of presenting people analytics data. It starts with a people analytics platform that centralizes your information and, most importantly, makes that information accessible. Part of that platform should be a dynamic org chart that lets you visualize your entire company and make adjustments to balance leadership responsibilities, provide additional support to growing teams, and consider other big-picture changes.

A good people analytics platform should let you seamlessly interact with your people data to offer a holistic view of critical information, such as compensation and leadership scope. It should also instantly populate customized reports that go deeper to give you insight across dimensions that include race, gender, and ethnicity. With that data at your fingertips, you’ll be equipped to set goals, measure progress, and make informed decisions—any time.

Measure DEI Initiatives

Since 2020, many organizations have announced diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitments. But there can be a disconnect between setting those goals and the practical steps a company must take to accomplish them. The issue isn’t just in whether they pursue those goals—it’s also in how they measure their progress to keep themselves accountable. Out of more than 1,000 HR leaders surveyed, nearly 30% told the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) they didn’t have the tools necessary to measure DEI efforts in their organizations.

A people analytics platform can kick-start that work by letting your team build dashboards to track DEI data over time. Start with representation, compensation, and performance data to develop a broad view of your company’s performance. Then set goals, identify actions, and keep tabs on how the metrics change over time. Using robust visualizations, share your progress with your whole organization. By embracing transparency, you can keep setting and attaining DEI goals with the support of your teams.

Use Data to Drive the Employee Experience

As many businesses are still recovering from staffing changes amid “The Great Resignation,” companies have doubled down on retention strategies to keep from losing top talent. While business leaders may tout the importance of the employee experience, they may not have a pulse on how much their people feel engaged, valued, and supported—or be equipped to easily identify changes to those sentiments.

Creating and sustaining a meaningful employee experience includes taking stock of learning and development opportunities, promotion rates, and engagement feedback. It’s not enough to have an annual check-in between managers and employees to ask how they’re feeling. Sentiment and needs change rapidly, and HR teams need a way to gauge those shifts and take action.

Your employees need regularly scheduled feedback opportunities. Starting with a basic eNPS survey will give you both a numerical score and written responses. With a people analytics platform, you can analyze the feedback across your organization and break it down by a variety of dimensions to identify trends or problems. Then, keep issuing those surveys, and see how the data changes over time. This approach means you won’t need to fumble for information ahead of an appointed yearly discussion about company culture. Instead, you can approach the employee experience proactively, equipped with the information you need and powerful ways to share it.

Your People Data Is Essential to Your Success

Access to accurate employee data fuels good decision-making at every level at all times, not just once a year. By centralizing their data and integrating their systems into a people analytics platform, HR teams can avoid time-consuming manual tasks and focus on knowing their people and supporting their work. You can reach organizationwide goals with more success if you can measure what you’re doing, capture the impact, and keep pushing forward.

Ian White is the CEO, CTO, and founder of ChartHop, a people analytics platform that helps companies improve organizational health, drive alignment and accountability, and save time and money. Previously, he was the founder and CTO of Sailthru, a marketing cloud delivering billions of personalized newsletter e-mails per month for top publishers and e-commerce brands. Before that, White was the first head of engineering at Business Insider and built the publishing platform that powers today’s highest-trafficked business website. Through these experiences, White felt the pains of planning and building a team and wanted to build something better than the spreadsheets and legacy HR systems he’d been struggling with. Thus, ChartHop was born to help organizations better plan with alignment and transparency.