Why data makes such a difference for worker productivity

'Using data and having data is really an empowering, innovative way of running your teams and people'

Why data makes such a difference for worker productivity

Providing workers with the necessary information they need to do their job can have a huge impact on their performance, according to a recent survey.

Overall, 72 per cent of workers claim that they feel most productive when they have all the data and information that they need to do their job.

And 65 per cent of workers chalk up the drop in productivity to their lack of access to data they need to quantify performance or progress.

It’s just empowering for workers and managers to have all these data at their disposal, says Dean Guida, founder of Slingshot, which did the survey.

“I want to know what success looks like, I want to know what the north star is, I want to know what the objective is, so that I'm working towards that measurement. And it's very empowering when it's very clear.” 

It also helps when employers provide workers with the historical data on how the company has performed on the specific assignments that workers are being asked to work on or improve on, says Guida in an interview with Canadian HR Reporter.

“Using data and having data is really an empowering, innovative way of running your teams and people.”

Doing meaningful work and receiving appropriate recognition are some of the things that motivate workers to put in more effort, according to a previous report from TELUS Health.

Challenges in accessing data

Over seven in 10 (72 per cent) workers use data to improve performance and 54 per cent use it to prioritize goals, according to Slingshot’s 2023 Digital Work Trends Report, based on a survey of 305 full-time workers in the U.S.

However, some workers do have access to the data that they need, says Guida.

“Sometimes… the data is siloed and hidden, and so people don't know what system to go into or where the data is… And the larger the organization, the more prevalent that problem is.

“Sometimes, from the management’s philosophy, they don't trust everyone to have the data, which is a horrible philosophy. You really want to empower everyone to understand metrics and what's happening in your business, what kind of signals you are getting from your systems.”

The tools used at work can also be a hindrance to workers’ access to the data that they need, says Guida. Workplaces’ move to communicate through emails and then through chat applications is a great example, he says.

“We all went from email – which has data sprawl, I mean, emails are the worst. You search [for something] and email doesn't find it. You spend so many hours a day... And now we've moved to chat. Now chat [also] has data sprawl, and you have all these channels. And it becomes very frustrating when you're just trying to get work done.”

Organizations have an opportunity to leverage the vast amount of information that is available at their fingertips, both internally and externally, to help make better business decisions, another expert previously told Canadian HR Reporter.

Ensuring appropriate access to data

So how do you ensure that workers have access to the data that they need? It’s up to management, says Guida.

“It starts from the top – just setting the tone of giving access to data, so that your teams can get at the data of trends and what's happening.” 

The CEO and executive team should set objectives, set metrics and have “openness and transparency to share data and put the systems in place so people can easily get that data,” he says. 

While different teams may need different specific sets of data, Guida says transparency is important.

“Otherwise, it [will] take people at the top to fix things. And what you want to do is you want to push things down to create this learning organization.”

As companies rush to maximize the potential of generative artificial intelligence (AI) for business success, they may be overlooking one key player in the decision-making process: the chief data officer (CDO), finds a new IBM report.

Guida has one final tip on how employers can use data for business success: “Make sure they understand the north star metric of what you're trying to achieve as a team, and then collaborate around why something is happening, why something is not happening. And do that agile experimentation of trying to change the outcome and measure it.”

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