Can data analytics drive employee engagement and company culture?

05/11/2020
Caroline Lewis
Sales Director

Big data. For many of us, it’s one of those buzzwords that is overused, but not understood. And yet, workplace analytics represents a crucial part of the puzzle for any company that’s committed to fostering a collaborative culture and creating a team that’s driven to deliver the best service for its customers.

This is a trend that’s only set to grow. Remote working is on the rise, which has led to the accelerated adoption of collaboration tools – especially video. This means we’re all generating more data than ever before. So how do we make use of it all, exactly?

I recently shared my thoughts from a Sales Director perspective with WeAreTechWomen – exploring the power of insight in driving employee engagement and a positive office environment. If you missed the original article, catch up below…

A fear of the unknown

When it comes to how an employee feels about data analytics, they usually sit in one of two camps – they either love and embrace it or they’re really wary of it.

But no matter which side of the fence they’re on, their chosen stance often stems from how business owners have communicated the concept with them in the first place.

Those who are more ‘on board’ tend to have been informed about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind its implementation – hearing how it can be used as a company-wide efficiency tool. Whereas, on the other side of the coin, those who are less familiar with its usage usually have a more negative perception of what benefits it could possibly bring to an organisation – believing it’s solely a mechanism for identifying job cuts or people who need to work harder.

And it’s this lack of clarity from management which gives way to this ‘Big-Brother-like’ cynicism.

Perhaps it’s because the term ‘data’ is commonly associated with ‘exams’ and ‘tests’, that we’ve naturally shied away from it – being fearful of the end result. Put this in a workplace context and the prospect of introducing data analytics into the fold can quickly make colleagues feel uneasy – especially if they’re left to wonder why it’s being applied.

With no steer or messaging from management, it’s easy to head straight down the avenue of negativity – worrying it’s because people are performing badly and it’s a tool to keep a close eye on staff performance.

However, this really isn’t the case. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Maximising efficiencies and empowering a workforce

When communicating what data can do, it’s important to stress its role in supporting and engaging colleagues with their day-to-day jobs, and that it’s not there to test or trick them.

The role of workplace analytics looks different for every company, as it’s ultimately down to what a particular enterprise wants to achieve. That said, on a granular level, it’s all about looking at bottlenecks within an organisation – promoting better use of collaboration tools both old and new, creating efficiencies, optimising staffing levels and improving KPIs. In addition, its purpose is to equip workers with the ‘evidence’ to make, or complement, informed business-critical decisions, that positively impact not only their department but the organisation as a whole.

However, the above is only possible if this data is made accessible to ‘the masses’ – aka the whole labour force. If dashboards are disseminated solely on a c-suite level, this is when it can quickly feel like results are being scrutinised and the data is nothing more than a surveillance instrument.

Instead, if everyone has sight of the detail, they can see exactly what’s going on and utilise this knowledge to empower their team to make individual improvements which contribute to achieving a greater business-wide objective. And it’s when all employees have visibility over the enterprise’s performance, that a culture of trust and autonomy naturally develops.

What data organisations want – or need – a view of depends on what they’re keen to achieve. It could be anything from tracking how long call-wait times are, which employees repeatedly suffer with a lack of connectivity or technical issues, the seasonality of call volumes, or looking at whether or not more staff are needed and break times need staggering etc.

The possibilities really are endless, but what’s pivotal to remember is that when the intelligence is there acting as an ‘enabler’ – helping employees to carry out their day job more efficiently – engagement levels increase and everyone feels like they’re working towards one common goal.

The domino effect

Interestingly, if workplace data analytics are used in a transparent and collaborative way, this will also, by its very nature, lead to happier customers – and staff who feel fulfilled and proud of the job they’re doing.

It’s all one big cycle – one element cannot exist without the other.

That’s because detailed insights often highlight the pain-points or bugbears clients have too – no matter how big or small, such as long call-waits at a certain time of day. When this is identified and addressed, neither the workforce nor the customers have to deal with the other’s frustrations over a call or via email.

In short, when employees are engaging with clients for positive reasons, this quickly closes the loop and positively impacts company culture too. Workers feel less stressed, aren’t dreading awkward conversations, and feel empowered to confidently interact with their accounts.

Data for the future

Additionally, as a result of having more insight into how an organisation works, this allows teams to make more intelligent forecasts.

For instance, if managers can see what ‘issues’ are seasonal and which are day-to-day concerns, they have greater flexibility to adapt and make decisions for the long-term good of the business – instead of knee-jerk reactions.

Additionally, while real-time stats are useful, the value of analysing historic information shouldn’t be overlooked. Companies can learn from what is happening – and has happened – to ensure operations run as seamlessly as possible, with maximum employee engagement and productivity.

And it’s arguably this level of informed collaboration that forms the basis of any workplace which values and wants to retain its people well into the future.

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