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Almost half of the employees choose a company based on working hours and flexible time arrangements

Data analysis concept illustration

Companies can use data analysis to deploy their staff smartly, efficiently and productively, while taking planning, available capacity and skills, and occupational goals into account.

But how far have companies come in reality? Research by SD Worx, the leading European HR service provider, shows that European companies primarily use absence and attendance data on working times when it comes to HR data. By linking HR systems together, companies can make smarter use of the available data and become increasingly agile. In so doing, they are better able to respond to the fact that today's employees value a flexible work schedule that suits their personal life. Indeed, 47% of employees choose a company based on working times, working hours and a flexible work schedule. And that means it's high time to take stock of how companies approach their workforce and work planning, and how they can improve it.

Data on employees and planning (forecasts) enables companies to deploy the talents at their disposal in the best possible way. Companies tend to include data on absences (44%) and working times (44%) in their staff reporting, which gives them greater insight into the available capacity and the time required to carry out the work, which in turn leads to greater efficiency and productivity.

    Deploy data to make smarter use of talent

    With the right data, companies can help their people to work 'smarter'.

    It's worth noting that 69% of employees consciously keep track of their working times, and 55% of employees use a time registration system to do so. In Norway (56%), Spain (54%), Germany (53%), Sweden (53%), Finland (51%) and Italy (46%), in particular, it's common for employees to use an existing system to monitor their working times. This figure is significantly lower in the Netherlands (33%) and France (32%). 

    Time registration takes place primarily at the job execution level (49%) and lower management level (44%), while it's less common in middle management (37%) and senior management (30%). In terms of sectors, the fact that time registration primarily takes place in the public sector (56%) and in industry (53%) stands out. The greater the number of employees in an organisation, the greater the chance of time registration being carried out. This figure stands at 33% in organisations with 1-9 employees; 39% in organisations with 10-49 employees; 47% in organisations with 50-249 employees; and 49% in organisations with 250+ employees.

    However, it's not only quantitative data that's important for efficient workforce and work planning. Qualitative data, such as an overview of skills, talents and expertise, also helps to ensure that all talent can be used at the right time. From an employer's perspective, one in three companies (29%) already keep data on talents and skills for staff reporting. Companies in Ireland (38%), Finland (38%) and France (35%) lead the way, while Dutch (23%), Swedish (22%) and Norwegian (20%) companies are less likely to store such data.

      Employees are in the driving seat

      Furthermore, it's also striking that one in three European companies invest in applications that allow employees and managers to enter and manage their own data. Doing so allows employees to contribute to data-driven workforce planning. Employee self-service (ESS) tools mean inputting data isn't just a task for the HR department, but rather is a shared responsibility throughout the organisation as a whole.

      At present, these applications are primarily well established in the Nordic regions (30%) and Ireland (29%), with a significant lower level in France (14%), Italy (14%) and Austria (15%). The most popular areas of application are absence requests (33%), registering working hours (32%), submitting expenses (28%), consulting remuneration and total remuneration (24%). 

      "Being transparent allows each employee to be responsible for monitoring their own working times. At the same time, the HR department can focus on their core tasks, as they no longer have to process the working hours manually", say Christophe Genilloud and Martine Pugin,
      IT Manager and HR Manager at Liebherr.

      Bruce Fecheyr-Lippens, Chief People Officer at SD Worx concludes: "We see an increasing number of companies taking a conscious decision to make more consistent and smarter use of data. By taking a holistic approach that focuses both on quantitative data (on capacity) and qualitative data (on employee skills and talents), companies can increase their focus on getting the perfect match of talents, assignments and the time available. Employees can also use this information to make a conscious choice and optimise their time management. Smart technology leads to greater efficiency, effectiveness and productivity. Companies would be wise to look into tools employees can use to manage their own data and planning. What's more, many ESS applications process their data in real time, which means they provide an accurate overview of the situation at any given time. The self-service aspect also ensures that data is entered into the system quicker. And that's crucial when it comes to workforce and work planning."