In marketing, you have to understand the needs and behaviour of your customers in order to give them a product or service that you know they will buy. Data is drawn from market research surveys, digital analytics and buyer behaviours to gain a thorough understanding of customer groups.
The same rules apply for employee retention; in this case, the employer takes the place of marketing and the employees become the customers. With a precise profile of the workforce, its motivations and wants, the company is better equipped to provide the right benefits and working environment to its staff.
What information is out there and what can HR teams do with this data?
At Wealth Wizards, we use OfficeVibe which checks in with employees on a weekly basis to see how they are feeling about such things as certain benefits offered, the feedback they get from the team and their work-life balance. It is never more than 5 or 6 questions, and most are using a scale so easy to complete. Quick, easy, and informative. No one wants a 30 or 40 question survey to land in their inbox! This data can then be examined by department to flag up any issues. If a team is having particular problems with a management style or are becoming over-worked then corrective action can be taken at an early stage. It can also uncover more subtle trends such as the mood of teams during the lockdowns.
Understanding other aspects about the workforce such as financial wellbeing can also be important. For example, how many of your employees are struggling with budgeting and credit card debt, how many of them are hoping to retire within the next ten years, or simply how do they feel about their finances at the moment to give an emotive angle. With money worries being a huge source of stress affecting work, it is an area which should be on an employer's radar.
One MyEva employer analysed the anonymised data from the online financial wellbeing health check. With a young workforce, they had assumed that their employees’ main financial priority would be about paying off debt. The results that came back were surprising, and it turned out that most employees were trying to get on the property ladder. The employer was able to tailor their employee benefits offering as a result, inviting a mortgage adviser to hold a series of seminars on buying a first home.
The implications of management information can be extended further, an employer might want to use employee postcode data to find out the average commute time when considering the location of a new office.
Another could be to measure the engagement of emails sent to employees at different days of the week or time of day. It can inform a strategy about when and how employees will be the most receptive to internal requests and announcements.
When employee tracking and data collection goes too far
With homeworking becoming more prevalent, employers might be keen to monitor employees through their work devices. This includes tracking the number of mouse clicks, emails sent and keystrokes to measure productivity. As well as stoking fear into the workforce that they are constantly being spied on, there are ethical implications of this approach to consider.
We are of the view that this dystopian method is more for organisations that prefer to rule with a 'stick' than a carrot. There are far better ways to measure workforce productivity but that's an idea for another blog article!
Another aspect to remember is the importance of using anonymised data. When you're setting out to improve the employee experience, your focus is on trends and patterns, you don't need to look into the individual data points of each employee. Plus, now that GDPR is on the scene, anonymising your employees' personal data is vital.
What are the future uses for management information?
Hyper-personalisation can help to create a better employee experience. Examples could include analysing preferred employee working styles and accommodating to different needs. Some employees might like to work in complete silence so would benefit from being provided with noise-cancelling headphones. Others who prefer music might benefit from a music streaming subscription.
When we start to go back into the office, employees will have developed working preferences: some will want to come back into the office full-time, other might prefer working from home and only coming in to collaborate. And for the night-owls, there’s the option of asynchronous working. Hyper-personalisation will get more accurate over time, using more data points and even some AI to improve employee experience for every individual. By understanding the barriers to productivity, employers can really help to improve the working environment.
There are so many digital data points now available to HR teams which will help them to explore and understand their employees better. Nowadays, employment is more than just a transaction of money in exchange for 7.5 hours of work every day, employees are becoming more discerning in what they can get beyond the normal benefits, and data and technology really can help to improve their experience.