In the current climate of economic uncertainty, understanding how to gather and utilize data can make the difference between weathering the storms of a crisis and crashing into bankruptcy. Effective use of data via a performance management platform can help position companies to build resilience against unforeseeable events into the core of their operations, giving managers and leaders the bird’s eye view needed to adapt to new challenges instantly and effectively.
The changing landscape of data
The way businesses gather and utilize data has radically changed over the last few years. Previously, companies relied upon basic information gleaned from payroll data, turnover rates and other financial measures in order to make judgements about where an employee – or the company at large – should be heading. Now, data comes in all manner of forms, giving business leaders a comprehensive overview of the challenges their company faces, as well as the ability to hone in and fine-tune specific areas for improvement via a digital people management platform.
With the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown creating huge shifts in the way businesses operate, the ways in which data is gathered and used has also undergone a major upheaval. Workforce analytics has become a new frontier for companies looking to stay ahead of the competition, but many businesses have been slow to adopt: a survey of 500 HR leaders from MHR Analytics on behalf of YouGov showed that 44% do not have a main focus on HR analytics.
Commenting on these findings, Max Blumberg from think tank Blumberg Partnership concluded with a stark warning to UK businesses:
“The YouGov research conducted by MHR Analytics shows that many UK businesses are failing to equip HR professionals with the analytics tools they need for high-quality people and process management. At a time when analytics can play a vital role in managing salaries, payroll and performance measurement, investing in technologies like this can help companies gain the competitive advantage.”
In an interview with HR Grapevine magazine, consultant Josh Bersin echoed Blumberg’s sentiments and explained why data is crucial now more than ever:
“Look at what’s going on right now; you have this massive economic disruption with stores closing and people unable to come to work, so how do you make decisions? You need data. You need to know the business people, the CEO and CFO need to know how many people are affected by this, what are the revenues, what do we have to do to stay profitable, what if we run out of cash – all of those decisions are going to be made in real-time and so if you have a crisis like this and you don’t have the data, you are going to be scrambling to make those decisions.”
The growth of people analytics
Josh Bersin has identified three factors that are changing the shape of data analytics:
- a shift to real-time data which reflects the minute-by-minute and day-by-day changes with an organization;
- the explosion in variety of data, with the advent of text pulled data and natural language processing data adding greater understanding of sentiment;
- AI processing of data and how it is analysed.
These changes have been accompanied by overall growth in people analytics, which have given HR leaders the practical tools required to nudge employees in the right direction and even predict business outcomes. This combined analysis of people data collected from HR systems, and business data – for example, data on operations performance – allows companies opportunities to make improvements in a wide variety of fields, from how their organization is designed to how they conduct workforce planning.
Maximizing data with performance management tools
So what can businesses do to make the most sense of the increasing amount of data at their disposal? How can they make sure the data they are using results in actionable, accurate and dynamic reporting?
As a report from MIT Sloan Management Review titled Performance Management’s Digital Shift explains, “Our research offers clear evidence that the future of performance management is more data-driven, more flexible, more continuous, and more development-oriented. It’s focused not just on individual employees, but on skills and teams.”
Replacing cumbersome single point solutions with an all-encompassing performance management platform with an integrated HR admin system is the first step towards maximizing data. Let’s take a look at some of the key performance management solutions managers and HR leaders can bring together in order to make the most of their available data, as well as provide new, ongoing data which they can use to boost performance and improve employee sentiment and engagement.
Two of the key areas where data can bring significant improvements for employees are in the setting of objectives and the process of reviews. Bringing the relevant data under the umbrella of dashboard reports allows managers and HR leaders to easily track a person’s progress towards the accomplishment of goals and other key performance indicators, as well as evaluate the necessary data gathered from one-2-one meetings, check-ins and other feedback mechanisms when reviewing their overall performance.
These dashboards give managers a holistic view of the current status of the company, as well as the departments, teams and individuals the business is comprised of. These categories can be easily ranked to show where good performance needs to be commended – and poor performance addressed – while current goals and priorities can be viewed at a glance. Real-time data can be interpreted through customizable reporting, making the appraisals process streamlined and effective.
Sentiment checking and analysis in real-time
A deeper dive into data provides a deeper insight into the gears of a business; data analytics and reporting provide the tools required to hone in on the metrics need to work towards improvement. With clear objectives established, these reports not only offer valuable insight into how well teams and individuals are progressing towards their goals, but also illustrate employee sentiment based on data gathered from one-2-one meetings, eNPS surveys, and other methods of tracking sentiment.
The ability to pull real-time data into a unified digital system allows HR leaders to work closely with managers to track metrics concerning departments, teams and individuals, spotting new trends early as well as recognizing potential problems before they get out of hand.
Today Screen daily overview
Good data provides critical insight into the broader, long term objectives of a company, but sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of what matters most in the here and now. Using a performance management suite with a Today Screen feature provides managers and administrators with a customizable overview of the day’s priorities, giving them visibility of teams and individuals in a single real-time screen.
The Today Screen is a powerful component of a business’s internal communications platform and can be used by employees throughout the company’s hierarchy to share live feeds, videos and training, and other notifications necessary to keep everyone up to date.
Microsoft Teams integration
With Microsoft Teams becoming increasingly widespread throughout the business community, using performance management software that features full integration creates for greater ease of use for staff at all levels of the company. For employees who are already familiar with how Teams operates, allowing performance management functions to be operated via the platform – and notifications to be sent directly within it across a range of digital platforms – means that users will experience minimal disruption, regardless of their department or physical location.
Building resilience for future Black Swan events with high quality data
Consolidating data into one powerful performance management suite enables businesses to build resilience against future unforeseen events, delivering the information managers and company leaders require to act swiftly and decisively whenever an emergency arises.
High-quality data allows companies to be proactive rather than reactive, better positioning themselves for the next “Black Swan” crisis, whether this is further economic disruption due to potential future pandemics or political unrest and cyber attacks. Data-driven performance management and workforce analytics help ensure that managers and leaders are ahead of the curve, capable of communicating new procedures and goals to staff across a multi-channel communications platform, whether employees are working on-site or remotely.
As Josh Berlin explains in his article, Can We Make Our Organizations More Resilient? And Make Society Resilient As A Result?, “Historically we designed HR to be a “low cost, high-value service function:” one that understands employee needs, responds quickly, and delivers services at scale. This is not the optimum model in a crisis. We need to distribute authority fast, make sure responsible owners have strong capabilities and experience and coordinate the response.”