The Data Dilemma


How accurate, real-time data could make all the difference to your HR department, and to your organisation as a whole.

You may find the expression “information is power” somewhat of a 1980s cliché – perhaps it puts you in mind of a hard line, super-assertive corporate environment where the CEO holds all the cards.

Let us assure you that this is not the case. In fact, it’s the exact opposite, at least in our experience.

The reality is that in our busy 21st Century working culture, data is almost everything. It’s a must-have, rather than a nice-to-have.

We’ll explain.

In our opinion, the ability to search and access up-to-date information through the right systems infrastructure will empower you to make better, stronger decisions; decisions that could serve your organisation outstandingly well, and which could therefore help the business meet its goals and objectives.

With evidence, you can act on it, and make a difference.

Actionable data enables you to see where you are now, and even to make predictions about the future. Data could easily, reveal the health (or otherwise) of your organisation. System-produced facts and figures, tailored precisely to the needs of your business could open up a whole new world, and let in the light on its operations.

Is data your super power? Well, yes. Or at the very least, the HR department’s way to add value throughout the entire organisation.

Don’t just take our word for it. The CIPD thinks so, too:

Intelligent HR = Data-Driven HR

As someone heavily invested in strategy, you may be considering upgrading your systems and processes. Why? Because you need to deliver greater efficiencies, and increase productivity. But, where do you start? FiveRivers Consulting works closely with a wide variety of companies like yours to support their adoption and tailored implementation of systems.

In other words, we know systems and we know data.

Our experience tells us this:

That manual processes operate like cumbersome silos – they slow people down, lead to mistakes, and despite painstaking work, never really deliver the bigger picture. They muddy the water, and you can’t analyse them.  

Here are some key areas where and how data could help YOUR “people analytics”


For many companies, recruitment can be time-consuming, challenging and costly.  

Data could answer a number of questions. Not only could analytics reveal which recruitment investments and processes are the best value for money, you could also  identify certain trends and insights; what works? What’s actually going on? What doesn’t work so well?

For instance, perhaps you need to know whether certain departments could benefit from greater diversity. Plus, certain skills or expertise may be lacking. Technology can open the door to instant reality.

Also, analysed data from surveys and applicant metrics could help build a more precise view of your candidates’ experience, leading to quicker and easier ways to apply for positions.

There may even be aspects of your recruitment processes that aren’t quite as user-friendly as they should be.

Identifying the Impact of Change on Performance

To thrive, organisations must experience change. Business is riven with competition. Whether through a re-location, staff re-deployment or redundancies, changes in management structure or via the introduction of new products and services – change is the ONE thing in and of itself that doesn’t change.

Evidence-based analysis on the financial returns that come from change in the workplace offers black-and-white proof of upwards (or downwards) movements in turnover and profits.

Improving Employee Engagement and Retention

Always a red-hot topic within HR, staff engagement could mean the difference between happy people working productivity, and dissatisfied leavers. Identifying why people leave, and the rate at which they leave could help you to find solutions.

And yes, we are talking about the ubiquitous staff surveys, but it’s more than that. With good data, you’ll also be able to uncover and review performance issues, sickness absence, motivation, and much else besides. Should your staff turnover rate be higher than it should be, data can quite literally tell you why.

Importantly, there may be issues in specific departments, previously buried and completely unknown. Locating patterns and trends across teams could help you to address them.

Enhancing The Reasons Behind Absence

Having already written about the problems lying behind employee absence, it’s a topic close to our hearts, and one that we understand well.

The data you extract and evaluate will in a matter of seconds reveal the length of time away from work by a team member, and the reasons for it. The micro – age, job roles, location – as well as the macro – who, when etc can clear the weeds from the path of knowledge.

Seeing a Clearer Picture on Workforce Planning

Workforce management needs to focus on working smarter, not harder; productivity, rather than “busyness”. Best use of their time, in other words. Perhaps a department is chronically under-staffed, or not to put too fine a point on it, maybe people are simply looking busier than they actually are.

Data-driven resourcing and scheduling could, for example, focus more on client-facing work, and less on administration – leading to greater customer satisfaction and a larger spend.

Strengthening Leadership and Decision-Making

Data empowers better decision making. We feel – actually, we know, that recognising where you are, what’s happening and understanding trends is the key to unlocking a whole host of strategic plans for the future.  

Here, your department can transform into a solid HR advisory function; dependable, and fundamentally in possession of all the facts. Now, if required, you can recommend with confidence the structural or organisational changes most likely to impact positively on your organisation.

How, and why? Because of data.  It IS a big deal.

For example, what sort of a difference would integrated systems and technology platforms mean to you? What kind of impact do you think that a data dashboard might have on your working environment?

Perhaps, after all, information really IS power. In a clever way, of course.

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