For too long HR has had a problem with data sharing, keeping it away from those outside of the department – scared of breaching trust or regulation. It is a heavy reluctance that will not go away despite the accelerated business plans to digitalise processes in a race towards increased efficiencies and time savings. On one hand, the concerns are understandable as there are indeed many privacy regulations and data protection laws that HR professionals have to comply with. Even employees themselves are hesitant to share data that IT teams may also be able to access. But on the other hand, today’s tech solutions are designed for compliance and data sharing that can strip away granular details to reveal insights that can influence decisions across the business. So, where do the barriers stem from and how can HR teams overcome them?
Breaking down barriers or building up barricades?
Many organisations have been striving to become more data-driven, trying to propose a broader cultural change that embraces all kinds of customer and employee data across every department to make better decisions. But with the worry of personal data being exposed in this process, or the Data Protection Officer knocking on the door, the theory is often not put into practice. In an ideal world, data sharing would be an intuitive, standard process, embedded in the core of an organisation’s operations. It would be used to analyse key patterns and trends to improve a wide range of activities and connect HR departments to the rest of the business.
In reality, however, data is often siloed, duplicated, in different formats and in multiple places on the server, making it difficult to obtain clean and accurate insights, let alone benefit from them. The disintegration is a challenge, but so is fear of sharing personal HR and payroll data even with a fit-for-purpose solution in place. That fear has definitely grown since the introduction of GDPR, especially as the possible fines for non-compliance are high enough to impact day-to-day operations and bankrupt some businesses. As such, many HR departments could be acting as an overprotective guardians of data, which unfortunately leads to others missing out on actionable information.
Data strategy to the rescue
Any good business strategy contains a data strategy to complement and measure its effectiveness. Data strategy needs to link to wider operational objectives and demonstrate how HR contributes to meeting them, what data they need to reach those goals and how they are going to leverage it. It should contain a compliance element when it comes to proposing a strategy on how to report and present insights from the data.
What a data strategy is not is collecting huge amounts of customer and employee data that you don’t need. It is not about sending a company-wide email with an old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet that has blurred out personal details. Business and data strategies must work in tandem, they must evolve so that no one in the business is running blind on the data sharing treadmill. Today’s integrated HR tools are perfectly suitable to bring data back into the light.
Invest in smart data processing tools
Instead of developing a headache that comes with manual data maintenance, analysis and sharing, organisations should invest in smarter, more intuitive data processing HR tools. The right document management and storage solutions will help HR professionals ensure compliance and enable them to create effective, automated flows of valuable information throughout the organisation. Without a personal detail insight.
If using an integrated, secure software, HR departments will finally be able to share their anonymised findings on for example employee productivity and actively contribute their data-driven ideas in the boardroom. They will be able to access and report on key HR metrics that allow managers to track all aspects of their team members’ journeys and talent management, improving departmental performance and individual career progressions. Armed with these insights, the entire business has a significant advantage in identifying suitable and transferable employee skills. Even the sales team could benefit from a better view of the data, allowing them to make more sales and boost revenues.
It is clear and essential that HR teams must overcome their fear of data sharing fast in order to accelerate wider business success and foster collaboration. By leveraging the right tools, they can unlock an array of valuable information that will be welcomed and cherished by every team. Such solutions offer enhanced data security controls and regulatory and compliance requirements to protect businesses from malicious activities, helping build greater trust around data access and sharing. Embracing them will truly ease the compliance headache and unleash some of the best-kept secrets in the business.
About the author: Emma Isichei, Chief Marketing Officer at MHR International.