Your company needs workforce analytics – here’s why

Viesturs Abelis 27.05.2022
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Much like how marketing analytics tools allow you to track, analyze, and optimize customer behavior, workforce analytics helps you do something similar for your employees. By identifying and tracking specific employee performance indicators such as productivity, engagement, and others, companies can keep a finger on their team’s pulse and make better decisions to improve overall employee effectiveness and business outcomes. 

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Historically,  HR internal analytics tools were used for HR purposes to analyze and optimize recruitment, retention, and compensation. However, with the proliferation of productivity and workflow management tools, companies have gained broader access to employee performance data. In turn, this has offered a new window into day-to-day operations, and allows managers to make data-based observations on how certain policies, training courses, and events impact overall efficiency. 

In what follows, we’ll dive into:

What is workforce analytics and how does it differ from HR/People analytics

Workforce analytics is a category of services that provide insights into various employee performance factors, typically used by companies aiming to optimize team efficiency. People analytics tools can help bring into the light critical individual performance and team collaboration issues that might otherwise go unnoticed and give them tangible form so that they can be dealt with in a measurable way.

A lady using workforce analytics software

For instance, with tools such as DeskTime, companies can discover, among many other things, how employees spend their time during the working day.

This proved particularly valuable during the early stages of the pandemic when employee communication was relegated to virtual meetings and messaging tools such as Slack. A pattern was identified – while employees spent more time working, a growing portion of it was spent in inefficient meetings and suboptimal written collaboration. These insights spurred managers to seek out better collaboration platforms and minimize wasted time, thus improving overall performance.  

Workforce analytics VS. people analytics

Where workforce analytics are for team collaboration and efficiency analysis, HR analytics (also known as people analytics) are for digging into processes and methods specifically relating to such HR responsibilities as talent acquisition and management.

There can be some overlap between the two, as HR-related topics such as work-life balance and overall job satisfaction can fall under the purview of HR analytics while having a considerable impact on employee performance. 

4 reasons why it’s essential to monitor work performance and experience data

Digging into and understanding why things happen a certain way empowers managers and leaders to identify specific shortcomings, which is the first step toward solving them. 

Traditionally, work process optimization relied on implementing certain frameworks whose impact was primarily analyzed through subjective observations and end-of-quarter business results. Today, with workforce analytics, things are far less abstract and optimization efforts are evaluated with concrete data that can benefit your organization in the following ways.

1. Optimize the work environment

Most company ecosystems operate based on a mix of historical practices and novel management trends. However, every team is different and what might work for other companies, might not be the most suitable solution for yours. 

For instance, instead of blindly following external recommendations about what work model to use – hybrid, remote, or in-person – workforce analytics allow you to discover which works best for your organization. Through trialing different models and reviewing their impact on productivity and satisfaction, you gain concrete performance data on each model and gain the ability to make informed decisions. The same goes for things like flexible working hours. 

Two coworkers discussing how people analytics is used to optimize where time goes

The use of workforce analytics software

As mentioned previously, workforce analytics software can also give insights into the inner workings of day-to-day operations, helping managers identify where the time goes and weed out inefficiencies, such as too many meetings. On top of that, exploring how employees collaborate, what tools they use, and how engaged they are can reveal areas of focus for overall efficiency improvements. 

2. Measure the impact of internal events and policies

Companies often host workshops to upskill their employees, enact certain policies to improve business results, and organize team events to raise engagement. These decisions are typically based on industry best practices and it can be difficult to measure their impact on overall company performance. 

Employee analytics software allows managers to observe whether, for example, training courses improve productivity, or whether work-life balance seminars lead to more balanced working hours. As a result, the effective events and classes can be separated from the ineffective ones, ensuring investments in future initiatives offer better ROI. 

3. Identify and assist over- and under-performers

While workforce analytics are primarily used to observe broader office trends, some tools such as DeskTime, also provide direct insights into individual performance factors such as productivity, efficiency, attendance, and time spent at work, among others. 

Manager using people analytics tool

Such data can assist managers in identifying individuals who are struggling to perform and proactively engage with them to find avenues for improvement. Alternatively, it’s also not uncommon for employees to work too much, which was a major problem during the pandemic when work-life balance got blurred. By seeing who is working too much after hours, managers can alleviate or optimize work volume to minimize the risk of burnout for such employees and thus lower employee turnover. 

4. Become a better leader

Being more aware of what happens behind the scenes of your company empowers you to be more in tune with your employees’ needs and engagement levels. Instead of top-down management, workforce analytics assist leaders with upgrading the work environment in a way that truly benefits the team and signals a genuine desire to solve problems and foster collaboration. 

Moreover, uncovering exactly what works and doesn’t work for your team not only builds trust between you and your employees, but it also puts you in a position to become a thought leader and share your discoveries with other executives and managers. 

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How to successfully use people analytics (so that your employees don’t hate you)

Depending on your industry and team specifics, some employees might view the use of people analytics tools as intrusive. Indeed, they can be if you use them wrong or maliciously. 

These tools aren’t supposed to be a new way to micromanage or spy on your team. On the contrary, it’s supposed to be a way to help them thrive both individually and collectively and a good manager will get this point across. 

Manager telling the team about what is workplace analytics

Workforce analytics tools usually also provide personal insights for their users and they can benefit workers in the aforementioned ways from improving work-life balance to providing insights on how to better manage time. For example, DeskTime features such as Time at work can help employees establish clear boundaries, avoid overworking, and feel valued; Break reminders and Private time ensure the team is rested and ready to perform at their best. 

To successfully implement workforce analytics, it is essential to do so honestly and transparently, while clearly communicating the benefits and boundaries of their use. 

How to get started with workforce analytics in 3 steps

The first step is to determine the reason why you need them. Perhaps you’re only seeking to optimize productivity by tracking where employee time goes. Or maybe you’re looking to take advantage of all the benefits highlighted in previous sections. Understanding your goals will help you find the most suitable and effective tools for achieving them. 

The second step – assign an employee, be it a manager or a member of the HR team, for data analysis. The tools themselves can only highlight trends, but enacting positive change falls on the shoulders of people. Deep-diving into data and setting concrete, measurable KPIs will help better understand the situation and the opportunities it presents. 

Finally, and we already touched on this, communicate clearly with your employees about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what it means for them. 

Try out workforce analytics today for free

Whether you’re searching for a simple time tracker or a comprehensive workforce analytics solution, DeskTime has all the features you need to improve employee engagement, productivity, and collaboration. 

To see how it works and whether it has what you need, you can explore the online demo version, try DeskTime Lite, or sign up for a 14-day trial for the pro version – all 100% free of charge. 

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