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How to Protect Privacy While Leveraging Data to Boost Employee Productivity Organizations the world over have missed out on integrating data analytics tools into their HR processes, resulting in stunted talent management programs. However, the ecosystem is witnessing a transformation

By Sanjeev Grover

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In an age where data is all-pervading, organizations across industries have started using data analytics to streamline and utilize the huge volumes of information that they collate everyday. Data analytics is being used to improve processes ranging from customer service to product manufacturing. However, there is one domain that is still not utilizing data analytics to its full potential-the HR department.

Organizations the world over have missed out on integrating data analytics tools into their HR processes. As a result, several companies are following stunted talent management programs. A recent Linkedin report states that while 71% of companies hold people analytics as a high priority, only 9% believe they have a good contextual understanding of it. It is, thus, no surprise that gaps in quality of performance reviews, employee recognition etc. are a common ailment for companies.

Today, however, the business ecosystem is witnessing a change. Startups across sectors are realizing that though the data is everywhere, they need to derive inferences from it and act accordingly to accelerate their future growth. They are seeing it in the light of benefiting the organization by strengthening their people practices. Let's look at some of the ways in which people analytics can empower organizations on their path to success:

Improving review reports and employee recognition

People analytics brings with it the challenge of dealing with two very different entities: data-which is point of time and people-who are very dynamic. Hence data, if captured and studied right before appraisal might not build the right picture.

However advancements in data analytics and developing talent management systems are allowing organizations to get a more holistic and unbiased view of employee performance. Addition of more data points and contributors to their performance reports are facilitating them in giving balanced reviews. Apart from a 360-degree view, such systems are also enabling real-time tracking of the work and immediate feedback.

This is helping employees gain better recognition for their work, some of which used to go unnoticed because of fragmented system of performance review. Armed with a clearer vision, the management can effectively determine the right employee placements, promotions and appraisals.

Improving organizational decisions

Leveraging machine learning, the company can gain deeper insights into the aptitudes of different employees. It can thus create a behavioural profile of each employee and make an estimated prediction of their patterns and core drives. It can also apply analytics to different situations that face the company.

With relevant information, management can foresee important inflexions. It can strategically highlight bottlenecks, conflicts in latent stage and stop them from growing into full-blown trouble for the company.

In the long run, keeping track of company's past performance in the face of any change or adversity, equips the management with the ability to make better decisions in the future.

Eyeing star performers: training and retaining them

All employees bring a unique skill-set to the organization and add value to it. There are also a select few who deliver exceptional results consistently. It is important for leaders to identify them in order to align them with the long term goals of the organization.

With better data-based inferences, the administration knows the worth of such star performers. Thus the former can chart out clear career paths for them, to effectively retain them.

Synchronizing people platform

Data analytics can facilitate companies in integrating multiple platforms, on which people and organizational components function. This ensures that data stored on different domains is not siloed and there is seamless exchange of information between them on a common dashboard. It thus creates a single platform, which wholly presents one common view of the organization. This can align HR data and initiatives to the organization's long term goals.

Boosting productivity

Effective use of data analytics can help organizations boost productivity in many ways. These include:

  • Better employee recognition to promote fair appreciation and meritocracy to support high-performing employees in delivering better results.

  • Analyzing data insights on team and organization dynamics. This can help the management build robust teams that can work together to produce better outcomes.

  • Examining flaws (if any) in training/ learning management systems and also checking individual performance. This can facilitate the management in channelizing the trainees to make the most of the course. What employees learn from the training will thus translate into company's gain at large.

Data and responsibility: Privacy concerns and company reputation

With more data, comes more data-responsibility. Once companies start leveraging employee data to improve productivity, they must consider the risks related to such large-scale use. Considering numerous instances of data breach, such as that of Cambridge Analytica, companies need to be extra careful while dealing with employee data. A breach can have serious implications on employee privacy as well as the company's reputation.

To ensure complete data security, organizations must adhere to the legal requirements and compliances. Apart from this, there are a few guidelines they can follow to increase their accountability.

  • Treating employee's personal data as a liability: The organization should collect only what is needed and take requisite steps to secure it. It should archive it once it not of immediate use. Data points should not link up with an individuals but a persona. This ensures access to the relevant data without putting individuals' privacy at stake.

  • Encrypting all critical data: With volumes of employee data, the company becomes a soft target for cyber intruders. Thus it should invest more resources to secure the data by encrypting it and regularly updating the solution to remain immune to the latest hacking techniques.

It should also look at how encryption keys and data certificates are used within the organization.

  • Access should be restricted: Keeping employees' personal data open to HR and accounts departments is not safe. The organisation should implement solutions that create separation of duties. This way not everyone will have accessibility to all the information. It should put in place a system of checks and balances by maintaining an activity log that keeps an account of all the instances when data was accessed.

Most of all, the organization needs to make a cultural shift and internalize respect for employees' personal information. This will require a heightened sense of commitment and spending on the part of the administration. Sierra-Cedar research shows that 45% of large companies and 51% of mid-sized companies are increasing their spending on HR technology. While this is good news, the share that goes into addressing privacy concerns is still uncertain. However, with the individual privacy at the fore of major issues concerning the country and the world, we are hopeful that workable solutions will be created in the near future.

Sanjeev Grover

Co-founder of Dockabl

Professional Experience
Sanjeev Grover Co-founded Dockabl, an employee experience platform in 2017. Conceptualized, designed and taken the employee experience platform to market within 14 months.  Lead client implementation, business development & investor relations. At Dockabl, he leads Business Development and Client Implementation. 

Director, Deloitte Business development and client delivery for the Human Capital Consulting Practice (in areas such as Organization Design & Effectiveness, Performance Management, Leadership Development, Change & Transformation etc. Specially focused on design thinking, digital mindset and digital capability building)

Managing Consultant, Hay Group Head of operations for the north and east India business. Business development and design & delivery of solutions in the areas of Leadership Development, Talent Management and Organization Design. Principal Consultant, ECS Ltd Project Management, design and delivery of several medium to large size client engagements

Professional Milestones
Entrepreneurship for Sanjeev is his third career. Armed forces and Consulting being his first and second. He is a graduate of the Indian Naval Academy and served the Indian Navy specializing in Navigation. He later pursued an MBA from XLRI Post which he has been a Human Capital Consultant for forms like the Hay Group and Deloitte. At Hay Group he headed operations for the north and east of India. While at Deloitte he led Technology and Innovation in Human Capital.

Leisure time
Sanjeev loves researching on just about anything and everything. Knowing everything about everything is his passion. He likes to read and spends early mornings on fitness activities. His favorite free time activity is to search Google on random topics with his older daughter.

Social Activity
Sanjeev provides pro-bono advisory support to NGOs on his off days.

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