The place where we share all our stories, ideas & insights

Five Key Questions Workforce Analytics Can Help You Answer

Posted by HigherUp on June 26, 2015

Information Management website logo

Article as featured on

With Workforce Analytics – real time data and not guesswork – is becoming the foundation for revealing new business insights, guiding tough decisions, and being a proactive leader. Analytics can drive the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns and relationships in data that can help businesses define, predict, and improve performance. In HR, Workforce Analytics can be applied to answer important questions about workforce productivity, the ROI of training, predictors of turnover, and factors related to performance.

Let’s look at 5 questions that small and medium size businesses face nearly every day – and see what role Workforce Analytics can play in helping them understand causes and engage in solutions.

1. How Do We Reduce Turnover Rates And Increase Employee Retention?

While turnover rates are an easily measurable statistic, the complex reasons and insights needed to resolve employee retention issues have historically not been so easy to uncover. Managers have not had timely access to the data to understand the dynamics of the problem.  They usually just know that people are quitting, it’s impacting productivity, and revenues are declining.

To understand a retention or turnover concern, this could include data from:

  • T&A – hours worked (workload) and time-off
  • Payroll – salary and compensation
  • Performance –reviews, raises, bonuses
  • HRIS – manager, job title and description, location

With this information, management can establish a turnover benchmark to see if their retention problem hunch is correct. Analytics can help them see the root cause – from an unaddressed workload imbalance to an individual manager problem to a specific location that is in economic trouble.  Knowing the root cause is critical to selecting the right path to resolve the turnover issue.

2. How Can We Better Manage Our Overtime Costs?

In most any small or medium size business, overtime expense is a complete waste of precious capital. Understanding “why” overtime is happening is the key to knowing “how” to resolve it.

When it comes to addressing overtime, you can “get mad” or you can choose to “get real” and use your own data and analytics to understand the extent of the problem and its root cause. This could include data integrated from:

  • T&A – hours
  • Payroll – overtime rates and gross cost
  • HRIS – manager, department, location, hire date

Appropriately benchmarking overtime and being able to understand where it is happening in the moment, enables proactive change in root cause areas such as workload balance, management responsibilities, and employee productivity.

3. What Factors Are Associated With Higher Employee Engagement?

An engaged employee is one who is committed to the company and shares its cultural values.  They are productive, high performers, and act as leaders no matter their seniority or job function.

In the past, engagement may have been seen as something “soft” that couldn’t be measured.  Today there are objective measures that can be represented by analytics and business insights around: productivity, retention, performance, and skills acquisition.

The data that can help us understand the metrics of engagement and its drivers can come from:

  • Performance – ratings, reviews, promotions
  • HRIS – manager, department, hire date
  • Benefits – use of special benefits, training programs and certificates completed
  • T&A – regular hours and overtime

If a great manager truly knows (versus guesses) who the engaged employees are and are not, and why, they will better know how to focus their time.  Informed choices can be made about managers working with employees who have never really engaged, as well as those who may have unexpectedly dropped off their past levels of engagement. This personal human touch, directed by insights from data, can be a huge driver for a company.

4. Which of Our Talent Gaps are Most Critical and How Successful Are We Addressing Them? 

Talent drives business.  Gaps in important positions and skills can mean business inefficiencies and lost revenues. Filling positions quickly with the right skilled people is clearly a priority for recruiters and managers alike.

Data can tell the story of how well a business is managing its candidate pipeline, how effectively it is on-boarding its new hires in both the culture and skills, and what productivity and retention look like at the end of their first six months. This can include:

  • Recruiting – candidates in the pipeline, recruiter success
  • On-boarding – training programs
  • HRIS – hire date, manager, department, location
  • T&A – regular and overtime hours

It is important to have a holistic understanding around every candidate and hire.  A recruiter who has great numbers for “time to fill a position” must also have candidates that effectively complete their training during on-boarding, quickly become productive team members who don’t require overtime to get the job done, and are still with the company six months into the process.

5. Are We In Danger Of Losing Our Best Performing Workers And Why?

No business ever wants to lose its top performers. One of the most important traits of great managers and businesses is the ability to retain key employees in competitive markets.

The process needs to start with setting the appropriate retention benchmark for a specific position. All positions naturally have different retention rates. The average tenure for a sales person might be 18 months, while it is many years for a new entry-level employee.

With a specific retention benchmark set, the following data areas would help managers predict and understand any dangers of losing a high performer:

  • Payroll – compensation
  • Performance – reviews and raises
  • HRIS – special awards, recognition, training
  • T&A – regular and overtime hours, paid time off

If a manager knows that the average retention time period is soon arriving for a high performing employee, they can proactively take a holistic look at that employee’s data to see if they are being compensated, rewarded, recognized and trained in a manner that is commensurate with their skills and contribution.  Those insights can inform a proactive conversation with the employee to reveal their feelings about the company and their future.

With Workforce Analytics, Payroll and HR Data Become Business Insights

Workforce Analytics translates payroll and HR data into business insights about the talent drivers of a company. Armed with this information, decision makers can address problems with facts and not guesswork.  Managers can be more proactive in strategic workforce planning.

Workforce Analytics can expose you to a part of the business you may have never seen before – by transforming your data into stories about your people, their performance and their motivations.

Back to Blog
HigherUp Menu
Skip to toolbar