The Future of HR Data Management
Human Resources (HR) has undergone a drastic change over the last two decades. From a functional department responsible for payroll and the legalities of hiring and firing, HR has grown to manage company culture, employee development, top talent acquisition and much more. A strong HR department is now critical to a company’s growth, informing the C-suite and board members’ talent decisions, steering the future of the company itself.
With the unstoppable wave of data, cloud computing, and analytics continuously reshaping the way we all do business, HR departments are better positioned than ever to take on this strategic responsibility.
An organisation’s entire workforce is now represented through data – the location of each employee, their pay range, their performance reviews, their career paths and so much more. HR software is being leveraged more than ever to help manage this. In fact, the HR software market is now expected to pass $10 billion in 2022.
Indeed, data is becoming an indispensable appliance in the HR professional’s toolbox. But the data landscape is ever-changing and subject to external trends. In this article, we will explore the future of HR data management across three main themes. Things truly are changing today – where will they go tomorrow?
Trend 1: The Increasing Power of Analytics
Across our professional and personal lives, analytics are refining and personalising our experience; from serving us targeted ads to suggesting our next workout. HR analytics are having the same effect – personalising and refining the employee experience in exciting ways.
In the past, the intuition of department heads and HR leaders was used to make employee and talent decisions. While human judgement may have a personal touch, it’s also subject to bias, unreliability, and personal preference.
People analytics have the power to take the strategic capabilities of HR departments to the next level, in the future. How? By optimising hiring, development and promotion with data-informed decision making, to maximise business growth. People analytics, when properly applied, will enable companies to:
- Tap into predictive analytics: Determine whether an employee will soon start looking for a new job, predict future high performers and guide managers to activities that create productive teams.
- Hire better: Streamline the hiring process, matching job requirements with top talent’s personality traits, goals and experience.
- Leverage skills: Identify the trends of most effective professionals and match people with roles where they will thrive.
- Increase engagement: Improve the motivation and engagement of employees by assessing their values and motivators, and creating engagement plans accordingly.
Enhance leadership development and succession: Choose the right leaders for the job, and create a robust pipeline of future leaders.
For many HR professionals, the applications of these people analytics may feel quite idealistic, today. Very often, poor data quality and poor data management practices make current data unusable. HR professionals must therefore focus on improving data quality in the future.
Trend 2: Changing Attitudes to Data Security
Have you ever felt nervous filling your email address out on a website, wondering what spam will inevitably come your way as a result? You’re not alone. Attitudes to data security are shifting, and 36% of consumers are less comfortable sharing information now than a year ago. That’s true for consumer data – now imagine how uncomfortable you’d be if your employer accidentally shared the information held by HR.
Data security laws are in place to help people retain control of their data. With the implementation of GDPR, many businesses had to take a hard look at their data security practices. They were presented with a new set of rules to comply with or face being fined (up to 17 million euros).
Similar, new, data policies are being created across the UK and in individual US states. For international businesses, this creates significant future risk, as HR will have to respect many new, potentially contradictory, data rules across countries.
HR professionals will soon find themselves considering a few new concepts, such as data purging. Data purging means permanently deleting inactive or obsolete data from the database to comply with privacy laws – this could be data about ex-employees, data that has reached a certain age, or data that has no functional use. Data retention practices will also need to become more defined, with a clear strategy for records management.
HR departments will also need to transition to being selective in their data practices. The sheer volume of data flowing in from different employee touchpoints within a company can be overwhelming. This is set to increase even more in the near future, with employees logging in to work from more connected devices remotely and more sophisticated systems becoming critical to business performance. HR professionals will need to ask themselves the following questions:
- Why is this data important?
- Can I gather this data with consent?
- Can it be stored in compliance with data privacy laws?
- Are there immediate gains to be had from analysing this data?
- What could this data reveal?
- What is the shelf life of the data?
HR will also need to start using security technology that understands employee behaviour from multiple angles, including cloud, SaaS, user, and the endpoint. This is more vital than ever with the rise of remote work.
Trend 3: The Rise of Remote Work
The pandemic forced companies to quickly transform their operations to enable remote work – and now, employees don’t want to let it go. Research shows that 58% of people want to shift to full-time remote work after the pandemic. The implications of this for HR data management are wide-ranging:
- International data: Many small businesses may just be about to go global. Finding the right person for the job is no longer limited by geography, which means that a large number of HR departments will suddenly need to deal with HR data from all around the world.
- Changing data: Recruitment, onboarding programmes, managing exits, training and development all change with remote work – the data will, too.
- Less secure data: With employees working remotely, enforcing the return of equipment and data will become even more difficult. Insider data and information will be vulnerable.
HR professionals will need to adapt quickly to this changing landscape and leverage the right tools and software to help them grow securely and sustainably.
A Changing Future
These global trends are pushing HR departments everywhere for more data and more insights. Outstanding results can be achieved with this, and in the future, HR will have access to high quality, compliant data, which will help them to optimise performance and develop culture, engagement and growth. However, a few barriers stand in the way of this, today. Increased regulatory compliance and scrutiny take HR’s time away from generating valuable insights. Data quality is not always up to scratch, meaning it can’t be used. Historical data can be patchy.
At Epicenter, we help companies achieve higher levels of data quality and compliance with our specialised strategy. This is supported by our guiding principles of data integrity, consistency and the highest level of security. By responding swiftly to the latest trends, we ensure that our clients are prepared to grow and develop sustainably alongside the rapidly changing landscape of HR data.