Stacks of Spreadsheets: Four Questions to Ask About How Your Company Handles HR Data
Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” How does your company handle its knowledge about itself, that is, employee records? The answer to that
question can indicate the effectiveness of both your employees and your organization.
A company can collect more data than any other business, but if that information is not accessible and utilized well, what good is having the data in the
first place? Or, as Aristotle said, “Knowledge without implementation is useless.”
Here are four questions to help assess the current state of your HR department’s data management processes:
1.Does your company have a centralized data location?
As great of a tool as Excel is, it is not the best place to store your company’s information. Some companies, instead of investing in data management
software, simply start a new spreadsheet, for every project they start or employee they hire. When your company information is displaced and fragmented
among so many different files and servers, it gives way for inaccurate transcription and copying of data from place to place. Employees, customers,
and managers won’t have the correct information, and they will be passing on corrupted data. Organizing and centralizing your company’s data is
vital to ensuring smooth HR operations.
2.Do your employees feel confident in your ability to take action on their concerns with a clearly documented issue resolution process?
The answer to this question gives insight into a broad scope of your company’s business practices by focusing on a specific example. The essence
of the question is whether or not the management team has developed and documented a process for resolving issues in the workplace, not the issues
themselves. Managing conflict is a key element of the management team’s responsibility, and when employees are given no clear concept of what to
expect when someone breaks protocol, it fosters uncertainty in their minds and, in the long run, can produce distrust that forms a gap between
management and employees. Your staff knowing the process of conflict resolution will, to some extent, help resolve issues before they arise. However,
this does not just relate to mediation or conflict resolution. Documenting processes helps your business run smoothly overall, and it can help
streamline your training processes.
3.If you have an employee learning and development program in place, how easy is it to manage and track?
When you onboard a new team member, what does their first week with you look like? Are they thrown into the fire, or do they wade in through the shallow
end? Taking time to properly educate new employees about company history, culture, and practices will help prevent issues in the workplace before they
happen and will provide for more cohesive staff dynamics. In addition to initial efforts in onboarding, organizations often neglect or outsource staff
development, both of which can be costly. It takes energy to build an effective employee learning and development program, and clearly defined and
documented processes will help streamline the program. If your education processes are put on paper, theoretically any HR employee in a development
position should be able to educate new or existing employees. When your organization becomes less dependent on individual peoples’ skillsets and more
supported by well-documented processes and systems, the company will be able to run smoother overall, regardless of who is in the office.
4.Are you open to lawsuits due to improper documentation or lack of insight into your employee data? While it may seem extreme to think of legal consequences due to lack of data management, most companies do not expect to have
a lawsuit filed against them and are quite surprised when it happens. Noncompliance in HR can be costly, and it can be avoided by properly managing
your employee information, which makes report production and filing much easier than if your data is spread out across multiple spreadsheets. Ignorance
of filing requirements and laziness in documenting HR processes will end up costing your organization valuable time and money.