'People data’, a key to success, often not utilised

The gap between the amount of data collected and what is reviewed by business and HR leaders is “a concerning but recurring theme”, a report says.

Even as UK companies acknowledge that they struggle with hiring and retaining employees, a study shows that many organisations are not collecting the "people data" that would help. And those that do collect this data often do not review it, creating a gap that slows success, according to the study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The CIPD's survey report, Effective Workforce Reporting, found that many organisations report that labour shortages, skill gaps, and employee wellbeing pose key organisational challenges, with 47% of leaders in human resources citing skills and labour shortages as one of the main obstacles for businesses today.

For example, while employee wellbeing sits fourth from the top under organisational challenges for leaders across the board, 47% of business leaders said they collect data on wellbeing, but only 26% said that anyone reviews this information.

Exit interviews, where departing employees have a chance to share their thoughts about the company, aren't used to their fullest, the survey shows. Only 42% of business leaders surveyed said that their organisations collect exit interview data. Even fewer review this information — with only 18% of respondents saying that senior leadership reviews this data.

Yet, it is increasingly understood that organisations will not perform well over the long term unless decisions taken at the executive management and board levels are informed by an in-depth understanding of the workforce and how it is managed, the report says.

This gap is "a concerning but recurring theme" that's reflected in the survey and in conversations with HR leaders, "many of whom expressed concern that a lot of data was being collected without a clear aim or outcome, and that the information was not being used for business decision-making," the report says.

The CIPD commissioned the study, and YouGov conducted it between 22 August and 15 September 2022. There were 1,560 respondents (779 HR decision-makers and 781 senior decision-makers).

Metrics on culture, engagement, diversity, recruitment, and retention also are not always reviewed, the report said. While bigger companies are more likely to collect and review this data, it is not always translated for senior leadership teams and boards to provide insights critical to business strategy and organisational objectives, the report said. Significant gaps exist even among employers of 1,000 or more people, the report said.

Just a fifth of organisations (20%) collect data on their contingent workforce, such as temporary workers and the use of self-employed contractors, and just 12% of respondents say companies regularly review this information. "[This] is slightly concerning, given the cost and risks often associated with this section of the workforce," the report said.

In another report, the CIPD reviewed workforce reporting across companies in the FTSE 100 in 2021. It compared each annual report against an agreed framework co-designed by the CIPD and the High Pay Centre, with input from the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association and Railpen, a pensions administrator. The report shows that workforce data gaps are consistent across companies.

The report found huge gaps in information relating to contingent workers and a lack of reporting across pay and benefits. It also found that "improvements in disclosure have not been sufficient to align corporate culture with the interests of workers and wider society."

Improved workforce reporting, the report says, will provide greater insight into how organisations manage and develop their people and the steps they take to ensure they have inclusive and productive working cultures. It can also signal whether organisations regard their workforce as "a key value driver to be invested in or simply as a cost to be managed down."

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