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Companies are increasingly turning to workforce analytics to drive serious change company-wide – everything from sales and CX to employee engagement and retention. In fact, according to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends Report, more than half of the responding organizations said their leaders’ interest in workforce analytics had grown exponentially in the past two years. However, despite this, nearly 30% of senior executives state that they still rely primarily on intuition when making major business decisions…oops! 

In deskless organizations, where frontline employees can number in the hundreds of thousands, workforce analytics is crucial. Interpreting reliable data to improve decision-making at scale can have major impacts on business outcomes. If it’s done right. And that’s a big if. 

Because when it comes to harvesting, interpreting, and actioning on this crucial data, there are a lot of common blunders that send organizations astray. 

Here are the 5 most common mistakes organizations make when tracking workforce analytics.

Mistake #1: Not setting goals

When used effectively, workforce analytics can support your organizational goals. As a leader, you’re helping shape the trajectory of your company’s growth by identifying pain points or key insights for quick wins and long-term plays. But to do that, you must first understand the story the data is telling you. Without goals in place, you’re just collecting data for data’s sake – you’re not turning those metrics into insights.  

Resist the urge to track everything at once – instead, think about the questions you want answered. Are you looking to identify your CX success drivers? Are you looking to understand the story of your employee experience by studying data relative to retention rates or how engaging your internal communications are? Maybe you’re trying to understand whether or not you have a strong culture of feedback to capture best practices and scale across your company? 

Once you know what goals to focus on, you can fine-tune the data you’re collecting, and use the workforce analytics to drive predictable outcomes.

Tip: Focus on the areas where your business can benefit the most. To do this, understand the most valuable KPIs that help drive your company’s growth. If you’re looking at ways to increase retention, for example, you can dive deep into your workforce analytics to identify pain points your employees are experiencing. From there, you can hone in on the areas that require your attention and find ways to remedy or act on them.  

Mistake #2: Not seeing the bigger picture

Specific metrics can seem super important (and sometimes a little scary! We’re looking at you, voluntary turnover rate), but by digging deeper, we see it takes multiple layers for a story to unfold. The idea, as Ultimate Software VP Cecile Alper-Leroux puts it in SHRM, is to “get past the ‘what’ and fully understand the ‘why.’” 

And that’s where this mistake becomes far too common. Data doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Misunderstanding the larger story behind the workforce analytics you’re collecting can be a huge miss for companies and lead them to miss out on important, actionable ways to improve their overall employee experience. 

For example: seeing a low open or read rate on internal communications at your company could lead Head Office to deduce that their employees aren’t engaged, or worse, lazy and unproductive. But combining that data with the “reachable” rate can tell leaders that most employees simply don’t have an easy way to access communications to read them at all. From there, understanding how your team interacts with your communications can provide visibility into engagement. And that information can help you understand what’s resonating with your team. You can even use this data to evaluate program performance against various vertical benchmarks and identify areas for improvement across your operations. 

Tip: Looking at data as larger workforce insights ensures you’re staying focused driving better business outcomes from your data, not just panicking over individual numbers.

Mistake #3: Not having the right tools in your toolbox

A common mistake that organizations make is trying to capture workforce insights without the right tools in place. If your communication and feedback channels and other tools aren’t fully capturing your metrics, you’re at risk of telling an incomplete story. Or, worse – you’ll start to fall back on anecdotal evidence or gut instincts to fill in the blanks, which can be just as bad. 

For example: let’s say you want to learn how your feedback channels are performing. If you currently collect feedback verbally through managers, through email, or through a suggestion box at each location, there’s really no way to properly measure how effectively you’re capturing feedback because you don’t have a way to accurately gauge how many employees have been asked for feedback, how many have delivered feedback, and what employee ideas were acted on and led to better business outcomes. 

Email is another example. Email communication was once the most effective way to connect with your employees but now lacks the depth and nuance necessary for a modern deskless workforce. Email tells a shallow story: open and click-through rates rarely reveal anything about engagement. 

See what we mean? 

Tip: The tools you need to properly capture workforce analytics depends on what insights you want to learn, but a great place to start is a digital communication platform (like Nudge!) that offer a two-way communication and feedback channel that can be tracked, start to finish. With a communication platform, you can track all your people analytics: engagement, knowledge retention, feedback participation, even recognition.  

Mistake #4: Not capturing everyone in your workforce

Another mistake leaders often make when gathering workforce data is not including everyone in their organization in the data collection. Why? You might have certain workers, locations, or even full regions that are invisible when it comes to collecting data. They might not have company emails, for example, or they might not engage in your channels because of language barriers or even time zone changes. 

This is a crucial mistake to avoid because you need a complete data set to give you an accurate picture of your workforce – and your organization as a whole. A complete data set will ensure any policies or changes you enact represent the needs of your deskless or frontline employees. 

Tip: Depending on what type of internal communication tool your company employs, you might be able to quickly identify regions, individual locations, or individual employees that aren’t represented in your data set. What could be inaccurately interpreted as “disengaged” could merely be an issue with the reach of your current tools. 

Mistake #5: Not actioning on your data insights 

Value cannot be derived from insights unless they are put into action. And, unfortunately, a common mistake that organizations make is sitting on their findings, unsure what to do next. 

After all, the goal of workforce analytics is to identify areas for improvement. If you’re only tracking metrics for the fun of it, you’re wasting precious time and energy. Workforce analytics data can help your company start taking a proactive approach in everything it does.

For example, given the time and cost of recruiting, using workforce analytics to identify potential patterns in employee turnover can realize significant savings for your business. Examining variables like engagement, tenure, and role of the staff who leave could help your company identify others who are considering an exit. Here, you can optimize processes, set up ‘stay’ interviews, or provide development planning to increase retention.

Tip: If you’ve collected data but are unsure what to do next, consider reaching out to professionals for a consultation (psst…if you’re a Nudge user, our award-winning customer success team provides ongoing support and analysis of your data). 

Gathering and actioning on workforce analytics can lead to some major wins – if you steer clear of the common blunders that trip organizations up. Avoid these common workforce analytics mistakes, and you’ll be on the right path to effective employee communication.