Data. We are seemingly swimming in it these days. We have Big Data. (And even Bigger Data according to a recent headline I read). But for the most part, HR professionals are only looking for an answer to a single, simple question – how to spend less time managing, parsing and reporting on workforce data, and more time actually doing their “real” job.

Workforce analytics are an essential tool for organizations that view workforce performance as key to improving business results, according to a new global survey of business leaders by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services.

At the same time, very few organizations (only 22% of respondents) actually consider themselves to be “very effective” when it comes to workforce analytics.

On the plus side, workforce analytics can help HR develop and improve recruiting methods, make optimum hiring decisions, and keep the right workers in the right spot within the company. In addition, experts say workforce analytics can help:

  • Predict the probability of an individual employee's success.
  • Identify the need for new departments and positions.
  • Identify and quantify factors that influence employee job satisfaction.
  • Analyze and predict current and future technological needs.
  • Assign and delegate responsibility for tasks and goals.
  • Optimize the enterprise's organizational structure.

That all sounds good, right? The research indicates that the effort is worth it. Companies that do this well enjoy statistically higher productivity, customer satisfaction, market share and profits.

As we already noted though, most companies fall well short of optimizing workforce analytics.

Another new global HR survey, "Driving HR Impact in a Changing World: Connecting a dispersed workforce with Core HR and Analytics" has some more insight about why many companies are struggling to get the full value and extract all they can from workplace analytics.

Survey highlights include:

  • 17 hours per week are wasted by organizations producing HR reports.
  • 51% of organizations use different HR systems for different territories.
  • Almost half of all organizations are either not compliant in all the regions they operate in, or else find it difficult to prove they are totally compliant.
  • 62% say their HR department is increasing its dependence upon the IT department.

As we noted earlier, there is some ROI here, some real return and payoff for companies that get this right. Perhaps in a follow-up to this story we can offer some tips and best practices on how to do that.

Tags: HR, ROI, Industry, Big data, Workforce analytics, Driving HR Impact in a Changing World, Harvard Business Review Analytic Services