Home > Resources > BLOG > Data-driven HR: The key to EX success

Data-driven HR: The key to EX success

Data-driven HR: The key to EX success

Two words sum up why the employee experience (EX) was the most talked-about topic in HR circles in 2018: HR data. Yes, after years of patient wishing and hoping, HR professionals finally have at their fingertips a depth of insight that’s almost taken for granted by other departments – and it’s all thanks to data.

Why has this explosion happened? The answer is likely all around you. Your organisation may have gone through, or be preparing to launch into, a digital transformation. Digital transformation is on the minds of executives from organisations big and small; they are faced with the same critical goal of evolving manual processes to suit a completely digital organisation across all functions, including HR.

Regardless of the scope of the transformation, the increasing use of technology means HR professionals are being given a valuable commodity in today’s data-obsessed world – that is, their own data that they can utilise to spot trends, identify risks, improve productivity and efficiency, and build an Employer of Choice-worthy EX.

Most organisations are already adept at using data – it’s a foundational part of doing business and has helped shape the customer experience for years. Now it’s time to apply similar rigour to HR data.

As outlined in ELMO’s previous whitepaper, the EX covers every touch point an employee will have with an employer, from hire to retire. It’s a mix of technology, purpose and the physical workplace itself, and it encapsulates what people encounter, observe or feel over the course of their journey at an organisation. It looks at more than engagement and culture and brings together all the workplace, HR, and management practices that impact people on the job. Little wonder HR teams globally are being rebranded as EX teams.

So where does data fit into this? Engagement surveys, pulse checks, even NPS scores – data fuels personalization. It enables HR to create bespoke experiences for every employee. This is an important consideration as a “one-size fits all” approach is the antithesis of a desirable EX. Instead of standardisation, HR should look at consistency – ensuring there are guidelines in place so that decisions are fair and transparent.

As the EX is formed and shaped through every part of the employee journey, from recruitment through to performance management and everything in between, there are countless touch points to potentially focus on.

3 of the most data-intensive areas

1. Professional development

On-demand learning and the rise of eLearning means it’s now more cost-effective to personalise learning to suit individual learners. We’re only at the start of understanding what self-directed learning means, with terms like micro-credentials and social learning just taking root. Unlock your learning potential! With “adaptive learning,” data fuels custom-fit courses and challenges, keeping you engaged and on track.

Remarkably, adaptive learning adapts to both the confidence and the understanding of the learner. Standard paths make learning a cookie-cutter experience. What about tailoring it to each learner? Feel free to move as quickly or slowly as you need, but make sure you’re solid on each level. Adaptive learning platforms personalize the learning experience by adjusting the content based on a learner’s responses to questions. Learners receive essential information, bypassing unnecessary content irrelevant to their existing knowledge.

Greater engagement and less boredom during professional development – surely that’s the dream of employers and employees?

2. Performance management

Ditch the infrequent, time-wasting, and biased performance reviews! Let’s focus on regular feedback and development. While managers often disparaged traditional performance management, the system also took a toll on employees. Skip the guesswork and get real about strengths and weaknesses with data-driven performance reviews. Forget gut feelings. Data analysis reveals clear definitions of “high” and “low” performance, whether through specific targets or desired behaviors. No more guessing about performance! NLP connects reviews to pay and promotions, making things clear and fair.

To make data-driven performance management work, consider doing more than annual reviews. Studies from the likes of Gallup (“Managers: Millennials want feedback, but won’t ask for it”) show that staff today expect more feedback. They want greater responsiveness and transparency (how their efforts feed into a bigger picture), and to feel that their opinions count. Regular employer/employee check-ins are the answer. Data collection and feedback become more timely and extensive, facilitating efficient goal tracking. Additionally, utilizing SMART and OKR goal setting methodologies guarantees the acquisition and application of performance data.

Performance data can reveal not just individual issues, but also broader team problems. For example, if multiple people in the same team are underperforming, it could point to a management issue. The data suggests additional training may be necessary to address these performance issues.

Underutilized written performance reviews represent a vast, untapped data source within HR departments. Fancy tech called NLP turns words into profiles and scores performance, no more keywords or checklists needed!

3. Recruitment and onboarding

It’s a blurry line between the candidate experience and the new employee experience – in fact some would say they are one and the same. Fortunately, there are ample opportunities to gather data during recruitment, and later again during onboarding. We can learn about a candidate’s qualifications, skills, experience level, aspirations, personality, and preferences during these stages.

Data from your existing workforce can be extremely useful in recruiting. It’s one thing to know that 30% of employees came from a particular job channel, but even more helpful is knowing the key competencies that are shared amongst previously successful employees – for example, resilience, the ability to take initiative or use creativity to resolve complex problems. Knowing these attributes enables you to widen your net when looking for fresh talent; you can look beyond typical “must-haves” such as previous experience or qualifications.

The onboarding process for successful candidates offers valuable insights. Data obtained from pulse surveys during and after the onboarding process can help refine the experience for future employees.

Machine learning relies heavily on data, and as AI takes hold in HR, chatbots will quickly become the norm for both recruitment and onboarding. These bots personalize the candidate experience by answering simple questions, facilitating assessments, and scheduling interviews and training.

Looking ahead

Disparate sources of data may eventually prove to be the most valuable for shaping and enhancing the EX. Although it’s still in its infancy, organisations that can “cross-pollinate” data sets – for example, HR data, sales data, commission data, customer satisfaction data – will find themselves ahead of the field in terms evaluating and leveraging the true value of a positive EX.

The race will also be on to employ those who can interpret this data. According to a whitepaper by IBM, Burning Glass and BHEF, titled “The Quant Crunch”, by 2020, the demand for data scientists will increase by 28% – and HR will be just one of the many disciplines seeking their services.

Tracking down data is one thing, but actually using it? That’s the real challenge. Getting the data is just the start. Expect hurdles like silos, skeptical folks, and skill gaps.

However, improving the EX is not necessarily about large-scale sweeping changes. Choose an HR area. Feedback fuels fresh approaches, one step at a time. As the EX is fluid, continuous improvement is critical.

Data-driven management boosts team support, informs leaders, and empowers employees, fostering effectiveness, informed decisions, and engagement in the workplace. The end result is a better EX for all.

ELMO is Australia and New Zealand’s only integrated cloud HR, payroll and rostering / time & attendance solution, offering you: ONE vendor, ONE dashboard, ONE user-experience. ELMO can help to enhance the EX by mirroring the touchpoints an employer will have with employees across 5 key solution areas: Pay, Engage, Hire, Retain, Develop. Use our Solution Configurator to determine how our solutions can best serve your needs, or contact ELMO for further information.