But analytics can also help determine what motivates great talent and what initiatives in talent development, hiring and retention are delivering the greatest ROI beyond simply increasing compensation and promotions. "Sure, if you throw money at your people, maybe they'll stay. But what else is driving them? Because we have around 60 years of payroll data, we can correlate with data points like productivity rates and make correlations and predications about things like how productive employees are once they've come back from a vacation. We can track their productivity and match it up with the dates they were at work and see how that is related. As a manager, I can use patterns like this do help me decide how to incentivize employees," says Marc Rind, vice president of product development and chief data scientist at ADP.
A caveat, though: While using analytics can help cut costs by determining where organizations can get the biggest bang for the proverbial buck, they don't eliminate the need for more personal feedback from employees, says Rind. "You always need to take into account the background and the context, and by all means don't discount workforce surveys and employee polling -- your workforce wants and needs to have its voice heard. But when it comes to seeing these patterns and being able to measure return on investment, workforce analytics is powerful," he says.
As diversity becomes even more of a competitive differentiator, companies are doing all they can to track and manage recruiting, hiring and retention initiatives. Workforce analytics can help figure out what's working and what isn't. "For one of our clients, the big question was why, if they're hiring a very diverse staff, why there wasn't greater diversity overall? What they found when they looked at the data was they were hiring, sure, but these people were leaving. They narrowed the problem down to three departments, tracked what the issues were with retention and were able to fix them," says Weisbeck.
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