How to deal with an influx of HR data

March 13, 2019
How to deal with an influx of HR data

When business is steady going, HR data is steady flowing. But business is not always steady going – and sometimes, there’s an influx of HR data. And whether that’s because of a recruitment drive, an acquisition, or just a change of systems… dealing with large quantities of new HR data is something you just have to do sometimes.  

Why you need to mitigate the risks of missing data

When it comes to HR admin, human error is one of the costliest mistakes. But when you get a sudden influx of HR data, it can be easy to miss important details. Especially if you’re trying to input each line of data manually.

“As an employment attorney I am constantly amazed at the lack of quality record keeping when it comes to employees” says employment lawyer Richard Celler. “During an employment case, the discovery process typically reveals missing records and incomplete forms. This is a sure fire way to increase settlement amounts and lose employment lawsuits.”

But it’s not just the legal side that should drive you to keep accurate records. Most of the HR data you hold, is probably held for a good reason – if you’re missing things like address details, bank details, or next of kin information, then you’re setting yourself up for potential disaster.

Digitalise the inbound flow of HR data

According to Nate Masterson, HR Manager for Maple Holistics, the first step to dealing with a mass influx of HR data, is making sure it all arrives in one consistent, digital format.

“It’s the best way to organise everything and save space and resources” he explains. “It also makes it easy to sort through. It’s common to receive an influx of HR data if your company is in the process of recruiting, but if you only accept emailed resumes for example, it will help simplify your system.”

Masterson says that as well as helping you keep data together, when you digitalise inbound recruiting data, it can help you easily find the right people you want, too. He says it’s easier to find particular keywords you’re looking for. Of course, scanning for keywords is a hotly contested topic in recruitment!

During an acquisition, it’s OK to maintain separate systems for a while

Acquisitions can be a lot to handle for HR. One reason is because HR ends up scrambling to merge all HR data into one uniform system. But while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the long run, it’s not always the right answer immediately.

“Sudden and abrupt change can disrupt workflows” says Tammy Cohen, founder of InfoMart. “For HR departments dealing with a flood of data, particularly due to mergers or acquisitions, consolidating technology systems is simpler in the long run. But leaders should consider the needs of each business unit within their organisation, and allow them to maintain their current environment for a period of time.”

You have a lot to deal with already when a merger or an acquisition is on its way. No need to further complicate this by taking people out of the environments and systems they’re used to – at least, not until the dust has settled.

Adding an influx of data requires a consistent process

Whether it’s a merger, an acquisition, a recruitment drive, or something else completely, you need a consistent process if you want to mitigate the risks of missing data. Now, depending on your HR system will depend on how you do this.

For example:

  • Entering each line of data bit by bit
  • Performing a bulk data upload
  • Requesting the service from your HR software provider

You probably want to avoid entering each line of data bit by bit, as this will require a dedicated data entry professional, and runs you a greater risk of missing data. Of course, if you use a paper-based HR system, or spreadsheets, then this may be your only option.

Paid service VS bulk data upload

If you are trying to add an influx of HR data to a digital HR system, then the company supplying the software will most likely offer a data load, normally as a paid extra service. This is because in the background, your software provider will have a data specialist working on transferring your data from one format to another.

But if you don’t want to pay for this kind of service, or wait for your service provider to tell you it’s ready, then you may want to enquire about the option of a bulk data upload that you can do yourself.

The way this works requires a bit of groundwork, but not much. Generally, you just need to add your bulk data to a pre-prepared spreadsheet template, and then check all fields match up. If done correctly, this template should then correspond perfectly with the fields in your HR system – as long as the template has been supplied by your software provider. If you’ve created it yourself, this might not work so well!

We added a bulk data loader for People® customers, as an extra option for an influx of data. Here’s how it works in practice.

So if you don’t want to risk making mistakes with slow, manual data entry, and you don’t want to wait for a professional to migrate your data for you, then ask for a data load template. Not all HR software suppliers will offer this, but it won’t hurt to ask.

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