Workforce Analytics Academy Part VIII: Staff Demographics

Sunday, November 11, 2012 7:38PM

If you work in a marketing department surrounded by 20-something year old professionals, you may form a lot of assumptions about the staff of your company hailing from the 20’s generation.  If the department you support is filled with long term engineers reaching retirement, you may feel like the rest of the company outside of your department fits that profile better.  People jump to conclusions very quickly― it allows us to “get to results” quicker.  Often, demographics are averaged or assumed while further distorted or watered down by the ‘bubble’ we work within.

Facts are needed to give the proper perspective.  Understanding the make-up of the organization based on the demographics of the workforce can support many other inquiries and understandings.  There are those who want to regulate systems from collecting or reviewing various types of demographics of our workforce, but that prevents us from getting a holistic view of the team.  It is important that we are able to review and understand the DNA of our workforce.

What are the components that are impacting our workforce decisions?

The businesses and governments throughout developing nations are facing the aging population of their workforce.Retirement of skilled, knowledgeable employees is going to be a challenge for a long time to come. There are many decisions that need to be made to help lessen the impact of this demographic. Knowledge that some could use for discrimination should be used by most to create better work environments. We can’t regulate ourselves with the notion that our employees are exactly alike, rather we need to know what makes them unique.

Age, gender, education levels, country of origin, life abroad and desired education level are all qualities that enhance the characteristics and dynamics of our teams.  So, why are we afraid to analyze the facts? If 2% of your staff has children, would you throw a family picnic with clowns, bounce houses and face painters for your team-building summer gathering?  No, you wouldn’t.  If 100% of your lab staff boasts advanced degrees, would you invest in offering Chemistry 101 classes?  Not likely.  You need to know details about your team before you make assumptions.

Embrace diversity and commonalities in order to fully support your investments in your team.  This means you need to know the trends of the types of people you are hiring.  What are the demographics of those you are losing?  What are the commonalities among your star performers?  What are the demographics of your most satisfied employees?  Put your questions into the context of your staff demographics and not only will you reach your decisions much faster, but you will also realize better success with your initiatives.

This is not a utopian view. If you are concerned about how people will use the information, then you have the wrong people making impactful decisions that will impact your employees.  Utilize the data, train people how to use it and reap the rewards.

For additional resources on HR Metrics and tying workforce initiatives to your bottom line, download our workbook Key HR Metrics and the Impact to Your Bottom Line