Get Rich Quick! (it’s not what you think)

By Margaret O’Hanlon

Remember how easy it was for Jed Clampett of Beverly Hillbillies fame? One day he was shootin’ at some food and up through the ground came some bubblin’ crude. It was just sitting there, waiting for him.

Take a look in front of you. There’s a precious commodity just sitting there, waiting for you. As the promo I received in my email today claimed, you’re sitting on a goldmine of information. Last I checked, that goldmine’s sitting smack dab on your property.

I’m talking about employee data, of course. And the reason I’m sending out this reminder is because so many of the companies that I’ve worked with do not mine their data. When I ask them for data on their employees, they give me their best guess. Or they reference an executive presentation with data that turns out to be more than 12 months old.

Of course, just like any data, employee data is only valuable if you’re going to use it to make decisions. So why leave it buried, when you could be using it to make more strategic decisions every day about your company’s most important asset?

Data on these four topics could be immensely valuable in your daily discussions:

  • Distribution of employees by defining variables like age, sex, length of service, employment status, bonus eligibility and so on. Also by variables that communicate compensation insights. Each company has its own sensitivities, but I think about measures like: percentage of employees below midpoint by five years of service; percentage eligible for bonus who did not receive one; percentage of those exceeding expectations who keep that rating three years in a row. You get my drift.
  • Variance of employees across the organization. Most companies are not small enough or cohesive enough to be studied as a single entity. There is a lot of insight to be gotten from identifying variations across departments and/or divisions. Are there big differences in age or length of service? If there are, do you know the reason?
  • Fact-based evaluation on vital staffing questions. Do you know where all your risks are? Are your strengths holding up? This type of analysis should be the basis of an ongoing strategic discussion with leadership, based on data that is refreshed regularly.
  • Trends will teach you how much you can rely on your data and how quickly change is occurring. A 2012 snapshot of salaries may end up being misleading if the story changes when you add 2010 and 2011.

Why not set up some programs that mine your HRIS data on a daily or weekly basis, so you can have fresh data for every discussion? IBM claims that the last decade has delivered us so much information, analytics will be the next big thing.

Don’t wait to have others tell you that the time has come. Dig into your goldmine now!

Margaret O’Hanlon is founder and principal of re:Think Consulting. Before founding re:Think Consulting, she was a principal in Total Rewards Communications and Change Management with Towers Perrin. This article originally appeared on the Compensation Cafe blog. Used with permission.