14 September 2022

Scared to share? Easing the compliance headache of data sharing

locked up data in files

For too long HR teams have been worried about sharing data – keeping it away from those outside the department, scared of breaching trust or regulations.

It is a heavy reluctance that will not go away easily, despite accelerated plans to digitalise processes in the race towards increased efficiencies. Concerns are understandable as there are indeed many privacy regulations and data protection laws that HR teams must comply with. Even employees themselves are hesitant to share data that IT teams may be able to access. However, today’s tech solutions are designed for compliance and data sharing. These solutions can strip away granular details to reveal insights that can influence business decisions. So, what causes these barriers and how can HR teams overcome them?

Breaking down barriers or building up barricades?

Many organisations are striving to become more data-driven, proposing a broader cultural change that embraces all kinds of customer and employee data – data that will help make better decisions. But with concerns about personal data being exposed, the theory is often not put into practice. In an ideal world, data sharing would be an intuitive, standard process, embedded in an organisation’s operations. It would be used to analyse key patterns and trends to improve a wide range of activities and connect HR to the rest of the business.

However, data is often siloed, duplicated, in different formats and in multiple places. This makes it difficult to obtain clean and accurate insights, let alone benefit from them. Disintegration is a challenge, and so is fear of sharing personal HR and payroll data – even with a fit-for-purpose solution in place. That fear has grown since the introduction of GDPR, especially as possible fines for non-compliance are high enough to impact day-to-day operations and even bankrupt some businesses. As such, many HR departments may be overprotective of data – unfortunately leading to others missing out on actionable information.

Data strategy to the rescue

Any good business strategy contains a data strategy to complement and measure its effectiveness. Data strategy needs to link to wider operational objectives and demonstrate how HR contributes to meeting them, what data is needed to reach those goals and how they will leverage it. It should contain a compliance element on how to report and present insights from the data.

What a data strategy is not is collecting huge amounts of people data you don’t need. It is not about sending a company-wide email with an old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet attached with blurred-out personal details. Business and data strategies must work in tandem; if a business strategy changes then so must the data gathered to support it and the metrics that determine its success. They must evolve together so that no department or business unit feels that it is running blind and unable to make informed decisions. Today’s integrated HR tools are ideal to bring data back into the light, but they can’t do it alone.

Invest in smart data processing tools

Instead of developing a headache through manual data maintenance, analysis and sharing, organisations should invest in smarter, intuitive data processing HR tools coupled with a data and analytics platform to suit. The right document management and data storage solutions will help HR professionals ensure compliance and enable them to create effective, automated flows of valuable information throughout the organisation. All without a personal detail in sight.

If using an integrated, secure software solution, HR will finally be able to share their anonymised findings on, for example, employee productivity, and actively contribute their data-driven findings to the board. They will be able to access and report on key HR metrics allowing managers to track team members’ journeys and talent management, improving departmental performance and individual career progressions. Armed with these insights, the business has a significant advantage in identifying suitable and transferable employee skills. Sales teams will benefit from a better view into the data, allowing them to increase sales and boost revenues.

It is clear and essential that HR teams overcome their fear of data sharing in order to accelerate wider business success while fostering collaboration. By leveraging the right tools, they can unlock an array of valuable information that will be welcomed and used company wide. Such solutions provide enhanced data security controls and regulatory and compliance requirements to protect businesses from malicious activities, helping build greater trust around data access and sharing. Embracing them will truly ease the compliance headache and unleash some of the best kept secrets in the business.

Ross Bruce, Head of Analytics Professional Services

Ross Bruce

Ross' career started in ERP implementation then led into data & analytics utilising SAP & Microsoft technologies. Ross has over 15 years' experience working with major organisations, optimising data and analytics to provide transformative business insights.

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