In today’s data-rich business landscape, the ability to interpret and make decisions based on data is crucial for organizational success. Companies are investing heavily in data analytics and technologies to gain insights that drive strategic initiatives. However, one critical aspect often left unprioritized is the need to develop data literacy among company leaders.
Data literacy refers to the ability to read, understand, and communicate about data effectively. According to research by Qlik, data literacy is positioned to be the most in-demand skill in the workplace by 2030. Josh Bersin states in Boosting Your Team’s Data Literacy, the data skills most lacking are data-driven problem solving such as asking the right questions, interpreting data accurately, and being able to tell a story to help decision-makers see the big picture and act on results.
Fortunately, you can leverage data you already have – employee experience (EX) survey results – to help your leaders develop data literacy.
In this article, I’ll discuss how employee experience (EX) data can be a powerful tool for building data literacy among leaders, enabling them to make informed decisions and drive organizational growth.
The Role of Employee Experience Data
Employee experience data encompasses a wide range of information, including surveys measuring the employee lifecycle from onboarding to exit, focus group feedback, executive rounding, stay/exit interviews, among others. This data offers a unique perspective on the organization, shedding light on factors that contribute to engagement, inclusion, overall well-being, and stay intentions.
While this data is commonly used for HR and talent management purposes, its potential extends far beyond these groups. Involving people leaders at all levels in understanding employee experience data empowers leaders to support action planning and creates more ownership and accountability for continuous improvement.
I’m a strong advocate for data transparency – sharing access to EX data with all levels of people leaders. The goal is to get results into the hands of people who can do something with it. This can bring up some fear for organizations such as “What if our frontline leaders go rogue on taking action and it results in a lack of coordination in actioning activities?”, “Will I lose sight of what leaders are doing?” or “How can I release the data to managers that have never been trained in data analysis as a skill set?”.
I wouldn’t recommend sharing data without first offering training to leaders and a clear understanding of how their work contributes to strategic priorities and goals. Preparing leaders to use the data is the antidote to fear in expanding data access.
Here are five ways to integrate EX data with data literacy training and development.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Employee experience data can serve as a tangible starting point for leaders to practice data-driven decision-making. By analyzing patterns and trends in the data, leaders can focus on the things that will have the greatest impact on employee experience and performance. This process cultivates a mindset where data becomes a guiding factor in shaping organizational strategies. One investment management firm conducted a Return to Office survey and used EX data to inform their RTO strategy. The firm identified that employees wanted their in-office time to be spent effectively, maximizing in-person interactions, and leaders worked to coordinate schedules for in-person team meetings and incorporate activities that foster collaboration, brainstorming, and social connections while leaving days to focus on task-based work at home.
Hosting interactive workshops that revolve around employee experience data can be an effective way to engage leaders in data literacy. These workshops can guide leaders through the process of data analysis, interpretation, and application. For example, one of our banking clients has used EX survey results to create a series of educational webinars for leaders to prepare them to facilitate team discussion about results, identify areas for improvement, and set goals to improve or sustain engagement. The training is part of a broader leadership development program. One module is focused on helping leaders understand what EX data is available, how to interpret the data, and how to prioritize focus areas.
Storytelling with Data
Employee experience data can be transformed into compelling visual narratives that resonate with leaders. Using real-world applications to create a more tangible context will make the data feel less abstract and more relevant. Incorporating storytelling will help leaders to gain a deeper understanding of complex information and draw meaningful conclusions. Good stories can also bring organizational strategy to life for employees, spark action, shape culture and ways of working, improve sales conversations, and benefit your overall employer brand. One example of how organizations can support storytelling with data is using the survey technology platform to design customized dashboard views for leaders – helping to highlight the most meaningful insights.
Collaborative data analysis involving leaders from different departments can foster a culture of data sharing and learning. This approach promotes the exchange of ideas and insights, enabling leaders to develop a holistic understanding of the organization's challenges and opportunities while leveraging best practices and bright spots across the organization.
Employee experience data can be aligned with key performance indicators (KPIs) to demonstrate the impact of data-driven decisions on outcomes. Connecting the dots between experience and operational data reinforces the importance of data literacy in driving results.
There are evidence-based differences between the effectiveness of making data-driven decisions vs. going with your gut. And yet, that’s what most leaders are doing. In an era where data-driven insights drive organizational success, equipping leaders with data literacy skills is essential. Employee experience data provides a valuable opportunity to cultivate these skills. By engaging leaders in data-driven decision-making, interactive workshops, storytelling, collaboration, and metrics alignment, companies can empower their leaders to harness the power of data for informed and impactful decisions.