Business Transformation

Managing data in a modern HR department

Achieve efficient and compliant information management

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Digitally transforming future HR

Supercharge the HR function

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Achieve more insightful, efficient and compliant information management

Businesses are collecting and managing more data than ever before. Traditionally HR departments might manage contracts, pension information and salaries, but advances in digital technology mean that leading HR departments are measuring and collecting information from many more sources, ranging from social media engagement to productivity data.

However, not every HR department is that far ahead, in fact many HR departments are struggling at the beginning of their digital transformation, looking to take the first steps of their journey. Getting the basics right has never been so important because poor information management can leave departments open to GDPR fines. What are the steps to achieve more insightful, efficient and compliant information management?

Step 1: Ensure compliance

Compliance should be every HR departments first priority, particularly following the introduction of the GDPR. While discretion has always been important, failure to protect sensitive information could now see an organisation incur serious fines. As a department, HR holds some of the most personal data of in the whole business, from home addresses to harassment complaints.

Sensitive information can’t simply be stored in filing cabinets any longer. While a key and lock were previously considered sufficient security, we now live in a digital world. When it comes to audit and compliance purposes, organisations need to be able to demonstrate what information they hold, quickly and efficiently. How can any business claim to be GDPR compliant, if it is not 100% sure of what information it stores within the organisation? This is a major challenge for businesses still operating largely based on paper-based workflows who can’t feasibly search every paper record they have or say with certainty how many copies exist.

In comparison, organisations which use digital-only workflows have a much more transparent view of what information is stored, where it is stored and who can access it. Introducing digital workflows can help HR to establish compliant practices within the department, but also to enforce them throughout the business.

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Step 2. Boost efficiency

Compliance may be the top priority, but efficiency should be close behind it. Organisations are increasingly interested in applying measurements to HR processes – how engaged are employees? How productive? Are there any patterns to employees leaving? As the amount of data collected increases, HR departments are spending even more time on its management and processing.

Organisations should aspire to have a data-led HR strategy. But without the right structures in place, HR staff are bound to be overwhelmed with data entry and lengthy management. With that in mind, HR leaders need to consider their current workflows, and whether this model scales to support new functions.

For example, are current workflows already more time consuming than they need to be? Is this preventing your department from taking on a more valuable data strategy? But also, will the new tasks result in additional manual work for the HR team? Often the answer is that HR departments aren’t set up for these new capabilities because HR is at max capacity.

In this situation, businesses need to consider how digital and automation tools can help. By introducing these technologies, companies can reduce time spent on low-value admin tasks. Not only does this improve the efficiency of HR teams today but puts a structure in place to support more complex, data-driven capabilities in future.

Step 3: Drive value

Organisations in the more advanced stages of their digital transformation journey should be considering how they can drive the most value from data. Currently many HR departments are not harnessing data for its full potential: more than 97% of HR departments gather metrics, but 95% experience problems with this process, often due to uncertainty over what to measure.

Businesses shouldn’t waste resource on analysing standard factors because they feel an obligation to do so. Data-analysis should be designed to solve specific business challenges. As a first step it’s important to find out what those are – for example do employees tend to leave after a certain period of tenure? Businesses should then analyse what the circumstances are that lead up to employees leaving an organisation and once the reasons are identified look to address and ultimately solve those issues.

Organisations are evolving to become more data-led, and as they do, internal departments are expected to follow suit and take on new responsibilities. However, HR leaders will need to play a key role in managing this process for their department. Despite other internal stakeholder priorities, compliance must always take centre stage given the frequently sensitive information being handled. Moreover, transformation of the HR department can’t simply become a box-ticking exercise. Rather, HR leaders must ensure that the right structures and processes are in place to help HR teams be as efficient as possible, enabling them to focus on an organisation’s most valuable asset, its employees.

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