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How Does HR Data Illiteracy Have A Big Impact On HR’s Performance?

Data literacy in a HR team

Written by Benjamin for IQ Dynamics

On average, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created around the world every day. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly a trillion times the population of Singapore to date.

It’s no understatement to say that HR data plays an important role in the workplace. This is especially so for HR professionals working in a competitive environment. From employee payroll to key performance indicators, “Big Data” allows us to quantify and make sense of raw information.

Hence it is rather shocking that a study has revealed that 84% of Singaporean employees surveyed reported that they are not fully confident in their data literacy skills. Given Singapore’s position as one of the most advanced nations in Southeast Asia, this is rather disturbing.

Furthermore, results from the study revealed that while Singaporean companies have made the push to become data-driven, their employees usually lack the skills required to embrace HR data or big data.

Team members who lack data literacy are less productive and find themselves struggling to keep up with their data-literate colleagues. Thus leading to procrastination, absences, and the loss of productivity. All of which would end up costing businesses an estimated S$5.1 billion in lost productivity.

While the COVID crisis may have forced businesses to downscale their operations, this only strengthens the case for data-literacy.

This is why business leaders and HR professionals need to act together to ensure that data literacy becomes a workplace standard. Before we delve into how we first need to understand what it means to be data-literate.


What is data literacy?

Simply put, data literacy refers to an individual’s ability to read, work with, analyze, and communicate with data. Thus, arming employees with the skills needed to collect, process, and act upon information. Something that can give businesses a significant edge over their data-illiterate competitors.


How do we make HR data literacy a part of the culture?


1. Enacting change from the top

Business leaders have a responsibility to lead their employees by example. This is why change should always begin from the top. Obtaining the support of senior executives and managers within the organization will be critical to the success of any initiative.

Before embarking on a data-literacy program, business leaders and HR professionals need to ensure that they too are data literate. This ensures that they are able to recognize the important role played by Big Data in today’s world.

Furthermore, these initiatives will also allow leaders and HR professionals to better educate employees on the value of data literacy, and HR data reporting.

Related: See how HRiQ’s Dashboard Report Builder helps your team analyze HR data intelligently


2. Identify and engage superusers

With the importance of Big Data being recognized all over the world, there will undoubtedly be members within your organization who are passionate about making use of HR data. Identify, reach out, and engage with them to harness their talents.

Helping said employee develop his/her skills will allow them to develop professionally whilst improving the organization’s talent pool. This will also encourage other employees to come forward and improve their data literacy.

In the long term, this approach will lay down the foundations of a data-focused culture.


3. Effective communication and practical training

Clear and effective communication is the key to any successful project and this is no exception.

From professional development opportunities to the benefits of Big Data management, employees need to be engaged with to help them understand the importance of data literacy.

Forget role learning and boring lecture sessions which will invariably result in a poor outcome. Instead, focus on practical training syllabi that allow employees to make use of Big Data throughout the course of their duties.

Besides improving data literacy, this also goes a long way toward the acceptance of HR data management in the workplace.

Related: Watch HRiQ’s webinar on how our learning management system can assist in your talent development process 


4. Conduct regular pulse checks

Data literacy can only be built up through consistent training programs, regular follow-ups, and plenty of patience. Organizing quick pulse check sessions to observe employee behavior.
These sessions allow the HR professional and trainer to gauge an employee’s data-literacy levels.
From here, any corrective action can then be taken to further assist the employee or introduce new initiatives to improve the literacy program.


5. Set an end goal

Setting an end goal allows HR professionals to gauge the success of an initiative. This can be done by defining what success looks like exactly and setting goals. From here, a roadmap that plans out the progression of employees over several levels can be designed.

This will allow both trainers and HR professionals to prioritize efforts or allocate resources where it is most needed. For example, an employee struggling with the concept of data literacy can be allocated extra time or sessions to help him/her.

Taking an organized approach to this will yield significantly better results and help employees develop at a faster pace.

Related: Map Competency Framework to identify skill gaps


Data literacy is a major concern for both Singaporean employers and employees. By enacting programs that make data literacy a part of corporate culture, organizations can develop a core of skilled individuals able to work with and process data effectively. These skills which will be especially in demand as the world becomes increasingly interconnected and digitized.

Human Resource Management Systems like HRiQ lessen the HR team’s burden by automating complicated HR processes, allowing your team to spend more time on strategic workforce planning. HRiQ’s employee self-serving portal also enables employees to experience the same simplified user-friendly functions to provide more independence from the HR team. Interested to find out more? Contact us here today.

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