We all know knowledge is power, but in an increasingly data-driven world, businesses find themselves with more data than they know what to do with. Workforce analytics takes this data and places productivity insights directly into your hands so you can manage your team more effectively.
Workforce analytics, also known as workstyle analytics or people analytics, is the next wave of people management. With workforce analytics, businesses can increase productivity, optimize workforce planning, and boost employee satisfaction — without micromanagement.
Not on the workforce analytics bandwagon yet? Skeptical about giving a tool access to all of your data? This post will explain workforce analytics, how teams can use this data to be more productive, and how you can combat privacy challenges.
First, let’s start with the basics.
What is workforce analytics?
Workforce analytics involves collecting HR data, interpreting its significance in the context of business objectives, and using these insights to enhance decision-making and operations.
In the past, this undertaking demanded entire teams of employees. Today, workforce analytics software has streamlined the process, making it more accessible for employers to generate and leverage meaningful data.
Leaders are quickly jumping on board with this emerging technology, with 94% of business leaders saying that people analytics elevates their HR process.
How workforce analytics can improve productivity
Workforce analytics isn’t a new idea. Gartner Inc. identified workplace analytics as one of the emerging technologies from 2021. However, in 2024, many businesses are still learning to use this new technology to their advantage.
Workforce data gives you an inside look into your team’s dynamics, helping you make smart moves for better efficiency and outcomes. The idea is a bit abstract, but the payoff for leaders is massive.
Here are some hypothetical examples of how leaders can use people analytics in the workplace.
Optimize your team performance with productivity insights
For our first example, let’s look at how a business that aims to foster a culture of continuous improvement and reduce roadblocks for its team can use workforce analytics to hit its objectives.
The company can use productivity measurement software to streamline evaluations and provide real-time insights. Workforce analytics can help managers learn to spot the difference between focused and distracted work. Then, use findings to clear blockers and help teams become more productive.
Employees will benefit by ensuring their manager knows what they are working on and their blockers without constant check-ins. Plus, this data can inform decisions about promotions, bonuses, and development opportunities.
The impact is evident in heightened employee engagement and a results-driven workplace where performance management drives productivity.
Improve workforce planning and reduce burnout
Workforce analytics tools can help managers at this company classify work hours to understand what their team prioritizes with work time classification. Then, using this data, they can ensure team members are assigned enough tasks to keep them busy without risk of burnout.
By leveraging data insights to optimize work allocation and prioritize tasks, the organization can create a work environment that promotes efficiency and prioritizes the well-being of its valuable team members.
This dual focus on productivity and employee satisfaction is instrumental in achieving sustained success and fostering a positive workplace culture.
Cut down on unnecessary meetings
Consider the example of a remote company interested in increasing productivity and cutting unnecessary meetings; workforce analytics can solve both issues simultaneously.
A workforce management tool can track how much time employees spend in meetings, which is often more than is necessary. Workforce analytics tools can monitor this time and ensure managers know how much of their team’s time is spent in meetings.
For remote managers, tracking your team’s productivity without micromanagement is hard, but workforce management tools make it simple. With these tools, there is no need to call check-in meetings to spot trends in your team’s performance — managers can automatically get an overview of their team’s performance. Meetings are naturally reduced, leaving more time for productive work.
How to implement workforce analytics
If those examples sound compelling, you’re likely wondering where to start. Implementing workforce analytics involves a strategic and systematic approach. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help organizations effectively incorporate workforce analytics into their operations:
- Define your objectives: Set clear goals for your workforce analytics initiative. Do you want to determine how productive your team is? Are you hoping to cut down on unnecessary meetings? Note these priorities and ensure the workforce analytics tool you select can meet these goals.
- Identify metrics: Determine key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to your goals. Your workforce tool can tell you how these metrics are performing, but it is up to you to nail down what is essential for your team.
- Invest in a tool: Choose advanced workforce analytics tools aligned with your objectives. Key considerations to keep in mind when finding your tool are the price, features, integrations, and scalability.
- Onboard your team: Train HR professionals and relevant stakeholders to use analytics tools and interpret data. Building a data-driven culture within the organization is essential for successful implementation. To do this, you need to get buy-in from your team and be transparent about the information you will collect.
- Data collection: Gather relevant data such as task and time tracking, surveys, and productivity measurement. Data is critical with workforce analytics, and the more information you plug into your workforce tool, the more insights you will gain.
- Communicate findings: Effectively communicate the findings and insights from workforce analytics to critical stakeholders. Use visualizations and reports to make the data accessible and actionable for decision-makers.
By following these steps, organizations can build a foundation for effective workforce analytics, enabling them to harness the power of data to optimize HR processes and drive strategic decision-making.
Challenges of workforce analytics
Workforce analytics can give your team a leg up, but it’s not without its pitfalls. Let’s look at a few elements of the main issues businesses may face with workforce analytics: data and privacy.
Privacy and ethics
First, there is the issue of employee privacy and ethics. Workforce analytics runs on employee data, which needs to be gathered with complete transparency and consent. Gartner has found that employees are open to monitoring their work patterns if there is something in it for them. Managers must explain to their employees how workforce analytics can help combat burnout and contribute to career advancement.
Next, business leaders need to consider data security issues. Handling sensitive employee data raises concerns about privacy and security. Organizations must navigate strict regulations and ensure compliance to protect employee information. To combat this, you must find a trusted tool that protects your data.
Lack of quality data
And finally, there is the issue of gathering enough quality data to make workforce analytics useful. Workforce analytics heavily relies on accurate and high-quality data. Inaccuracies or inconsistencies in the data can lead to flawed analyses and misguided decision-making. Find a tool, like Backlog, that offers features like productivity measurement, time tracking, and task management to keep all of this data in the same place.
Navigating these challenges requires a strategic approach, a commitment to data quality, and a focus on ethical considerations to ensure that workforce analytics initiatives contribute positively to organizational success.
It’s time to invest in workforce analytics
Workforce analytics is a transformative concept, allowing organizations to unlock unprecedented insights into their most valuable asset — their people. By analyzing workstyle data, companies can optimize staffing, identify trends, enhance decision-making, and improve productivity and outcomes.
If you’re ready to embrace data-driven HR, workforce analytics are necessary to measure performance and keep your team productive.
Aubrey Nekvinda is a content marketer at Hubstaff, specializing in writing about HR and SaaS tools. With a degree in English and creative non-fiction writing, Aubrey has a passion for writing about flexible work hours, healthy work-life balances, and time management policies.