Productivity growth since the late-2000s recession has been relatively weak and evidence supports the suggestion that SMEs have seen a bigger hit to productivity than larger firms; however, the UK stands out as one of the worst productivity performers among its peers, persistently ranked toward the bottom of a sample of advanced economies.
Small improvements in productivity and retention can have a significant impact on the bottom line.
HR professionals ought to be productivity experts, looking at how work is done, with an open mind, so as to educate management and help them reorganize work and teams around the best way to get stuff done. Using business data to try to help figure out why things are happening and the people piece behind that; that’s where data analytics really come into play in a truly useful way.
I think that a lot of HR data is not particularly relevant or enlightening; what is needed is a shift in the mindset from “HR measuring HR” to “HR enabling the business to deliver”. Employers collect a mass of data on employees and use it to report on areas like diversity, gender pay and staff turnover, but we should be using robust people analytics to understand how poor productivity, skills gaps, and long-term trends affect the organization.
It’s about understanding the business impact that drives profit and loss so that the data is put to best use; using it to review business objectives and identify opportunities to enhance and influence workflows. If employees really matter, then the organization will recognize that engagement, recruitment and retention become problematic if workers don’t feel that they have a stake in organizational success.
Employees are entitled to expect that both the data generated from their employment and insights that derive from the data, will be used to benefit them as well as the organization. At 10Eighty, we prefer to focus on analytical techniques that enable employers to assess and develop talent, managing skills and aligning them with training investment that empowers workers to engage with development opportunities and invest in their ongoing employability.
The CIPD suggests we consider three key areas when interrogating HR data:
- Is it insightful? Does it tell something you did not already know?
- Is it relevant? Does it concern something that matters?
- Is it actionable? Can it be used to trigger a meaningful intervention?
Changing work practices
New technologies that allow employees to work remotely and change in work patterns and contracts mean that employees have greater flexibility and more control over their working lives; these changes benefit employees and employers. Given these new workplace dynamics, it is apposite to enquire whether the HR data currently collected is entirely relevant and useful in the current environment; ensure that what is collected is what is needed and that it means what you think it means.
Giving employees freedom with accountability allows them to incorporate creativity and purpose into their work and to focus on development opportunities. Good employees want to map a career path with an employer of choice; they want managers who give them a voice and they want to see how their contribution fits into the bigger organizational picture. Ensure the organization has the data to build a collaborative and supportive culture that will help to tackle the productivity puzzle.
It’s also important that HR analytics are integrated into evidence-based HR practice in order to improve the use of people data when informing or advising on decision-making. Used appropriately, the data may improve trust and transparency within the organization and improve outcomes for employees.
Robust, realistic and sharply focussed HR analytics allow the creation of HR strategies and policies that will facilitate an employment relationship based on trust and an environment that fosters creativity, exploration, versatility, and risk-taking.