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All for one: The benefits of workforce analytics

by Jackson B

By Caroline Payne, Head of Customer Advisory, SAS UK & Ireland

How does your employer know how you’re feeling about your work? Perhaps you email your manager. They then pass the message on verbally to HR, who log a ticket to let executives know. The executives review it in passing but ultimately nothing is done. Three weeks later, you decide enough is enough and hand in your resignation.

It goes without saying that a happy and healthy team helps to foster a more productive, enjoyable and successful workplace. The statistics agree: happy workers are 13% more productive. Caring for employees, therefore, should be central to organisations, both ethically and economically. And while keeping track of employee sentiment may seem more complex than the market analysis or competitor tracking that businesses do on a daily basis, HR analytics is also vital for any business that believes knowledge is power.

It may seem crass at first but taking time to analyse your people as well as your customers and competitors is a route to success. Adopting the principles of workforce analytics long-term can help to develop better relationships which ultimately produce positive results for all. For public sector departments and the health service, who are among the UK’s largest employers (there are tens of thousands civil servants employed by the likes of DWP, HMRC and Ministry of Justice – plus a workforce of c1.5m within the NHS), caring for employees’ physical and mental wellbeing can only have a positive impact on an individual’s desire to keep working within their current role. This is something I discussed in a blog earlier this year.

Spot burnout by finding its source

Burnout is a serious problem in the 21st century workplace, and it’s increasing during COVID-19. Most companies want to protect their staff from work-related stress but identifying who is struggling is difficult for most HR teams. However, it’s possible to predict and identify cases of dissatisfaction at scale through finding its source in untapped data. For example, we can read about the achievement of HMRC staff and their ecosystem of partners in preparing and delivering the Job Retention Scheme (the first of a number of COVID support schemes) in 3-4 weeks, and perhaps we know of someone who is proud to be part of this. Yet with such an accomplishment comes long, stressful hours – day and night – and the real potential for burnout.

If an employee wants to leave because they feel that, despite their hard work, their skills are undervalued, or their salary is below their expectations, many companies can find themselves signing their good-bye card. Few companies think of these events as preventable – but just like losing a customer, a team will want to spring into action to keep talented individuals.

A central decision hub can assess employee behaviours and patterns on multiple levels to provide a unified view throughout their employment lifecycle. By looking at a huge variety of internal and external data (such as the existing performance of the team, and the average salaries for a particular role respectively) it’s entirely possible to spot the triggers which lead to dissatisfaction. To help manage this volume of data, AI and machine learning can be trained to spot problematic combinations of factors, and produce insights that could mitigate a resignation. From here, HR can work with business unit leaders to devise an appropriate plan – for example, if a lack of work-life balance is the driving force, then the plan needs to decrease the individual’s responsibilities or bring in new team members to share the load.

Find the perfect blend of people for strong teams

Like the first coffee of the day, teams must have a strong blend to produce results. This means combining complementary skills with personalities that create harmony and momentum. Losing a person from the team can be tricky, particularly if it upsets this balance.

One of the most common yet destabilising losses comes with the retirement of those who have spent a lifetime gaining knowledge in their field; this is particularly true in the public sector where there are a large number of life-long civil servants. The shock of losing this go-to expert can cause the team to lose heart.

However, analytics can help prevent this negativity. HR can track who possesses which skills, and how skill-sharing and knowledge retention can be increased even during personnel changes. Not sure of the impact of a HR decision? Hybrid, multi-layered analytics can quantify the effects and advise on the right choice. This might mean offering an incentive to the knowledgeable team member to stay for an extra time while training others up in their role.

Similarly, adding a new person to the team can be a volatile time. Only a person with the right blend of skills will fit right into business operations without a hitch. HR can avoid a misstep by analysing what makes an employee successful in a given role, and match these with available skillset profiles from within the business. These profiles consist of a broad array of internal and external data, and can ensure that even someone completely new to the department will thrive. It doesn’t need to be left up to chance.

People are the organisation – so optimise their wellbeing

What does your organisation stand for? It varies from employer to employer – perhaps it’s advocating better cybersecurity, or pushing the boundaries of fashion, or fighting for human rights. Yet, helping employees to thrive is a key driver every organisation should have. As well as the moral and social benefits, this ethos does wonders for business continuity.

Investing in people creates mutual relationships that must be preserved – not least because it is expensive and time consuming to have a heavy employee turnover. The failure of this relationship can be caused by many things, but a commonly occurring factor is a lack of opportunities to grow.

Attentiveness is therefore key. Only by having a full view of the available opportunities and the existing skillsets can an organisation open the right doors and make the right judgements to keep talent fulfilling its potential around the business. Ultimately, they must create the right balance of employees with a rich, deep experience of the business and market, and nurture new talent to take the business forward into the future. Custom data integration is the key to identifying the right data to be analysed so as to yield the best insights for the future of the business.

Create a culture of attentive nurture through analytics

At a time when resources are tight, the physical and mental health of employees has never been more crucial. And while uncertainty continues, organisations have no time to deal with surprise resignations, poor quality hires, or fractured teams.

It’s possible to keep track of employee sentiment and even spot problems ahead of time. A culture of nurturing the employee-employer relationship through analytics can help to strengthen the organisation and provide long-term resilience, not to mention boosting happiness across the board.

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