5 reasons HR data strategies fail


HR data strategy

Your HR department is likely to be the custodian of some of the most insightful data in your organisation. They have a clear insight into employee behaviour, organisational growth, and business efficiency. But, more often than not, HR data strategies fail. They fail to be implemented in such a way that they can make the organisational impact they’re truly capable of. But why? In this article we explore the most common reasons HR data strategies fail and what you can do to overcome these issues.

1. There is no strategy 

A non-existent HR data strategy is bound to fail. Many HR departments collect data without purpose, often because they do not know the value of the data they’re accumulating. However, this data is hugely valuable and can guide and influence decision making, not only in the HR department but across the entire organisation. 

Information fostered through HR activities, such as employee churn or retention, revenue per employee and diversity statistics, help drive your organisation forward. But this is only possible if data is effectively accumulated, analysed and distributed. So unsurprisingly, the first step to a successful HR data strategy is having one. 

Your HR data strategy should consist of the following:

  • Your department’s goals and objectives and your organisation’s goals and objectives.
  • Details of the information you’re collecting, the reason you are collecting each piece of information and the analysis you intend to conduct on the data.
  • What success looks like. Detail what you hope your data looks like and use this as a benchmark for your progress and drive action following data analysis.

Within this strategy it is absolutely essential that you highlight and understand the data security and protection implications of the information you’re analysing. 

2. Inconsistent approach to analysis

Another reason HR data strategies fail is due to their inconsistent approach to analysis. All too often data from different platforms is analysed in silos – often contradicting one another, and qualitative data is rarely paired with supporting quantitative data. With this inconsistent, scattered approach to analysis, it’s clear to see why this kind of HR data strategy would fail. To give your data strategy the best chance of success, you must have one, formulaic approach to analysing all data. 

Bringing data from various platforms (for example your HR management, learning management system and finance systems) together and analysing as one data set is the best route to analytic success (which of course, improves the likelihood of success for your whole HR data strategy!)

3. Stakeholder misalignment 

Your data strategy should start with an end goal in mind. And on most occasions this end goal will create a significant business change that will help the organisation move forward. It is therefore critical that you align your strategy with business goals and achieve buy-in from all relevant stakeholders. Each stakeholder must be in agreement about the data that is being collected, how it’s being analysed and its purpose in relation to the future of the organisation. However, achieving stakeholder alignment is a challenge for many. Our top tips to ensure success are:

  • Clear and concise communication from the outset.
  • Detailed delegation of task ownership.
  • Set expectations of the data strategy – change will not be achieved overnight!

4. Short-term mindset

To truly make organisational impact, it is imperative that you look at the bigger picture. HR data is fantastic at painting a picture of the state of your organisation right now. For example, it may show the number of employees that have left the company this month or year. This data may result in actions that need to be taken immediately. However, for your overall data strategy to be successful, you must thoroughly analyse and compare data with previous years to help your organisation predict future trends. 

Using current and past employee data to analyse the common grounds for attrition is one way to help you implement tactics to increase employee retention in the future. Or, you can use LMS data to analyse skills gaps in your organisation, and predict the types of employees who might benefit from a mentorship scheme. By predicting these trends, you will save time and resources by fixing problems before they arise.

5. No clear plan of action

Without a clear plan of action your strategy is simply a great idea, or a description of what is possible with the data you’ve collected. This isn’t sufficient to make a business impact. To ensure success, your HR data strategy should be accompanied by a clear plan of action. This can come in a variety of formats; a Gantt chart, an online to-do list, or a simple email to all involved, detailing who’s tasked with which action. Regardless of the route you take, having a clear plan of how you will implement your HR data strategy is critical to its success. 

Final considerations…

Remember that your HR data strategy should evolve with your organisation. This is key to making a long-term, lasting impact on your organisation. You should always consider whether: 

  • You have the right information to help your business meet its current goals. 
  • The data analysis from years gone by is helping to shape the future of the organisation. If not, why not?
  • The data captured is painting a complete picture of the organisation? And if not which datasets do you need to collect in future? 

Ensuring you ask yourself these questions frequently will ensure that your HR data strategy stays aligned to your organisation’s current needs and helps to make a real impact on the future of the organisation. 

Data security 

Data security is a hot-topic right now. Since the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) policies in 2018, individuals are more aware of their rights and the hyper-personalisation of the world around them. This isn’t just an issue faced by your marketing department – it also greatly impacts your HR team, as it involves your employee data and how you communicate with them. Though unlikely to be the sole reason your HR data strategy will fail, data security concerns can make many stakeholders wary of using employee data in such a way to influence and impact the future. They needn’t be worried, but it’s a great idea to swot up on the data policies that impact your organisation. 

Here at Grasp HR, we’ve recently been recommended for ISO 27001 certification, which means our organisation is meeting the international standards for information security management. We’re super proud of our newly achieved compliance, and we have seen the impact this has made when ensuring our data is managed and handled in the best possible way. This allows our clients and users to have confidence in all of the impactful data we can provide through our mentoring platform, and use this information in the best possible way. 

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