A brief exploration on how companies can harness data to come out of the current situation with momentum and strength.

Coming out of the pandemic with strength

Humdex is a little data obsessed, we know this and try hard to reign in our enthusiasm for people analytics when speaking to individuals who may not want to discuss, for example, the fluctuations of productivity, in Germany, over the course of the Corona virus. We do not, however, have to convince businesses that using data is not only valuable but essential to succeeding now, and in the future, this is an accepted fact. What we do need to discuss together is how to handle that data, how to deploy its value for impact and how to understand the motivations for its use. In this short piece I want to highlight the core ways in which companies can use data to improve their outlook for the future.

“One thing we should all be focusing on is how we can use data and analytics to help us come out of the current situation and be in a position of strength for the future.”

Jordan Morrow, Reactive vs Proactive Analytics – Shape the Future, Qlik

Taking the reins with data

4 core practices companies can use data to help future-proofing.

1 - Data governance

Long term investment in data governance is critical for achieving business goals and better market adaptability. Data governance, on the micro level for businesses, is a structured management of data assets within an organization, covering data custody, data quality, tools and processes.

Fig. 1. Data governance diagram by StarCIO

It is the major step in mastering information use in a business. Many initiatives live and die by the quality of their information, data governance ensures a knowledge of key legislation (GDPR, data protection etc…) and installs a series of checks and balances that reduce risk by being able to identify quality and trusted data from your sources. Most importantly this approach gives power to the individuals who's job depends on data quality and aligns their needs with that of the business = being data driven to improve chances of business success in the future.

2 - Being data-driven/based

Ray wright tells us that “Changing the culture and emphasizing the importance of being data-driven takes time and must be directed from the top of the organization.” Being data-driven is a procedural (i.e. data governance) and cultural transformation. Data must be part of every decision process from the start, it should never be shoe-horned in part way through the process to fit an already decided upon aim. It is at its most powerful when it is used as the catalyst for action or as proof of the validity of an action. It is imperative that higher management operates less on gut feeling and require that most operations (i.e. departmental reporting, new initiative plans etc…) make use of appropriate information at its base and show that this data is being used to shape the business.

3 - Knowing why you need data/being outcome orientated

Every company knows that they need data to prosper but gathering as much data on everything is not a good use of anyone’s time. There is an IT term called Garbage In-Garbage Out (GIGO for short), which essentially means in this scenario that if companies are vague with what they want to achieve or need the data for, then the output will be equally as vague and full of holes, which achieves little. Not only do we need to be clear as to why we need information on X or why we are doing initiative Y but it is also hugely important to set goals and KPIs based on data available. We need to know when to celebrate, when to re-calibrate and when to reconsider, bench-marking as well as a good understanding of external and internal environment data can achieve this. An example we have talked about before is how companies set their D&I gender targets to 50/50 automatically, without any knowledge or understanding of the external talent landscape. Simply put there often just isn’t the gender diversity available for many companies to achieve this goal. Those few companies that are successful in full gender parity are often over-fishing a diminishing pool at great cost.

[You can watch our full live recorded webinar on gender balance and target setting; "Recruiting for balance– understand your markets to support balance", that we conducted with LEAD network HERE]

4 - Become a pro-active force

We often see that “Data quality issues frequently lie at the core when marketing, analytics, or insights programs fail to deliver the expected results” (Jordan Morrow, Reactive vs Proactive Analytics – Shape the Future, Qlik). Not all data is created equal and some information is poorly researched, or may leads respondents, or contains errors, or what you need may just not exist as a statistic. The remedy for this is to be a more pro-active force with those who conduct the research responsibly. If you think that the market is lacking data or not representative of your own experience be present for those studies when they come around and even seek them out, share these opportunities with groups and individuals who you think would contribute to the outlook of the industry, too often are studies producing reports from the opinions and situations of small and unrepresentative section of the whole.

Right now, Humdex has such an opportunity. We are conducting a study open to all business managers as well as HR professionals about the future of data in HR business strategy. We believe that a data driven understanding of the impact of workforce availability and talent is critical to the achievement of business strategy. We all know that the world is changing dramatically. Digitization is becoming more and more important, but which data really make a difference, and what is really needed from HR in the future? Our study is aiming to help answer these questions. You can take part in the study directly at: www.humdex-nextgeneration-hr.com

Or you can find out more about the study HERE

Bringing it all together

The current situation has galvanised us all into action. Data has risen to the top of the corporate agenda, as it is the way to ensure businesses stay agile and robust enough to succeed and endure in a destabilised environment. Yet, having the most data is not the answer, the answer is in being able to handle and direct the information effectively for your own purposes. To do this companies will need to tighten up procedurally, culturally, be outcome specific and pro-active. Data could be the silver bullet answer to future-proofing a business, but it is a bullet that requires long term investment and commitment to use.


We work hard at keeping up to date and informed on the latest trends and news affecting the world of people analytics & strategic workforce planning. If you would like to know more about the work we do, then please contact us.

Author -Scott Brent

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We have invited our partner Steve Marley; CEO and Founder of Ashwood Executive search to explain why he is a passionate advocate of Humdex and its data driven workforce analytics.

A perspective from the recruitment business

Steve Marley - Founder and CEO Ashwood ESI

At Ashwood we assist, our primarily FMCG, extensive client base to identify, engage and hire executives at C-Suite to C-Suite minus 2 level. We work Internationally primarily, not exclusively, across Europe, USA and Middle East and Sub Saharan Africa.

I have been in the recruitment business for over 20 years, in that time the market and recruitment methodologies have changed fundamentally and the way we do business today is very different. Recruitment methodologies and approaches change not only year on year, but now at an even faster rate, compared to when I started this business all those years ago. I speak to many HR professionals and I continue to be surprised at the ad-hoc nature of some of the data measures that we, as recruitment consultants, need to work with to define success. I believe that in some cases this is because the HR organizations themselves lack that vital data they need to better measure what they do and get an effective barometer on their own performance, particularly when it comes to how they compare with the external market.

At Ashwood we have taken the view that we must get even more deeply involved in driving and partnering diversity and inclusion with all our clients and getting an accurate barometer of the external market is an essential part of getting its execution right. We need to shine a light on this vital area because not only is it the RIGHT thing to do from an ethical and principle perspective, it is the RIGHT thing for our clients to do for improved business performance. Commitment to D & I leads to hiring better talent, which leads to improved leadership and thereby to a more content workforce that produces better business results. This commitment to evolving the workforce is essential, especially now as the pandemic accelerates and catalyses transformation even in forward thinking organisations. We see daily how such leadership talent adapts, collaborates, persuades, provides feedback, develops and inspires others to be their best.

So, it makes sense to do be close to the D & I needs of businesses, but we knew we needed a partner to help with the science. We knew that mining key internal and external data by geography and function would be essential to gaining the buy-in of our clients at C-Suite level. We sought a partner with gravitas, integrity, international experience and the relevant skills and knowledge plus the infrastructure to deliver. We insisted on a partner who can assist our blue-chip client base and mid-sized international clients all of whom are eager to build on, or create, an effective Diversity and Inclusion vision and strategy.

Well when looking for a great Partner you need both a plan and an element of good fortune. I was in luck as my ex-client, intellectual sparring partner and good friend Caroline Brent has founded a business called Humdex Ltd. (Human data experts). Humdex is a team of international data, digital and HR experts who have seen the need to bring authentic science /data to this vital issue. They are passionate about D & I, bringing an energy and skill level to projects that is impressive and that above all delivers results.

Not surprising then that Ashwood has partnered with Humdex, as we believe they can help us bring more science to the passionate area of recruiting for balance. We feel that if both Ashwood and its clients have a clear grasp of the external talent market as well the internal talent demands we can make data-driven recruitment briefs built on facts; we know this will make us more effective recruiters, we will get better results for our customers that are truly in the context of market availability and may even afford us the opportunity to celebrate better than market performances based on (factually articulated market understandings).

By using a targeted approach, we can gain a positive candidate advantage enabling our clients to accelerate not only their D & I policies, but hire the best. ALL candidates seek an impressive business culture and they believe a diverse workplace provides an empathetic environment conducive to creativity, bigger and bolder ideas leading to greater success and therefore opportunity. Candidates will benefit from this focused approach too; as we deliver talent quality in the reality of real market context, rather than chasing unrealistic calls that frustrate all concerned, especially candidates.

Therefore, investing in this partnership with a true application of workforce analytics and a real specialism in working with companies to drive data-led recruiting for diversity is essential.

• You can’t fake it – the facts speak for themselves

• We believe data will help you attract and retain better talent through more effective hiring strategies

We passionately believe all companies should have a clearly defined diversity agenda, which includes how they go to market for recruitment that is built on market facts. We know that if we help our customers achieve a diverse workforce they will attract first class talent, be leaders by improving equity (including pay and benefits), and above all benefit their EMPLOYER BRAND.

To conclude, remember that with Humdex you can’t FAKE IT and THEY’RE GOOD FOR BUSINESS in every way. So keep it real and enjoy the benefits of a targeted approach to D & I.

To find out more on Ashwood executive search C-suite services you can visit their site HERE or contact them directly via email: apply@ashwoodesi.com


At Humdex we deliver data driven high-level workforce analysis, which we decode bespoke for your Strategy Workforce Plan. For support in unlocking the power of your people data CONTACT US to find out more.

Guest author -Steve Marley -Ashwood ESI-

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