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Building Management’s Trust in Your People Data

One of the challenges when starting a workforce analytics initiative is building trust in your people data. Management commonly questions whether the data is right and if they find one number that’s wrong, then everything is dismissed.

Once trust is lost, it’s difficult to gain back. So it’s up to the people in charge of analytics to find ways to build trust in the workforce data – after all, you’re asking your company to use it to enforce strategic decisions. With a high level of trust, the more you’ll get accomplished – quickly and at a lower cost.

How to Build Trust in Your People Data

1. Get the basics right. The first measure you have to get right is headcount. If you don’t think headcount is important, think again. Headcount drives so many other metrics and correlations such as talent gaps, diversity, and total cost of the workforce. When headcount isn’t right, it’s difficult to build momentum and confidence in other data points. Where there are difficulties with accuracy, explain why. Don’t leave room for misinterpretation.

2. Describe what the data means. It’s important to help the end user understand—in their language. Describe how the data is calculated, and give examples such as explaining the formulas. Identify what the measures, metrics, and indicators represent; the rules and exceptions built into the numbers; and how the insights should be used.

3. Less is more. Focus on the metrics that are accurate, meaningful, equate to value for people managers, and drive action. Explain what steps to take when a metric is low, high, or static. Keep it simple – too much information can cause analysis paralysis. Guide management through the proverbial data maze so they aren’t wasting time figuring it out on their own.

4.  Allow for a slight margin of error.  Nobody’s data is perfect.  As good as your HR system may be, there are always transaction errors that can occur due to data entry or timing issues.   If the data cannot be fixed in the source HR system, a workforce analytics system can transform those bad records into good records.  But they have to be found first.  Communicate with your management that data by nature is prone to error, but when identified, it can be resolved in short order.

Be a Partner in Trustworthy Workforce Data

When management trusts your workforce data, you’ll gain credibility. Jumpstart this by employing a process to validate data with your internal clients and provide context for the set of information each needs. Supporting your people managers on the frontlines with insights from the data gives them precision guidance to make informed decisions.

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