How can HR departments use quantitative and qualitative data?

Written by sue smith Google
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How can HR departments use quantitative and qualitative data?
Management decisions are most effective when they are based on clear data. (Getty Thinkstock)

Management tasks benefit from research and analysis. Within Human Resources departments, there are various approaches to gathering and analysing data in ways that inform the decision-making processes. Both quantitative and qualitative data can play a role in these approaches. Quantitative data concerns information that can be expressed numerically, or quantified, for example employee salaries. Qualitative data concerns non-numeric data, such as employee morale levels. HR managers can benefit by using both types of data to gain insight into individuals and teams within the organisation.

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Performance measurement

Employee and team performance measurements can involve both quantitative and qualitative data for human resources managers. For example, measuring performance in a manufacturing environment could involve quantitative numeric data indicating employee productivity. Qualitative data may be a factor in performance measurement for a manager or customer service operative, for example through surveys carried out by other employees or customers. Qualitative data is descriptive, so in performance measurement terms it is most likely to be useful where perceptions of employees are concerned.

Budgeting

Budgeting tasks in HR benefit primarily from quantitative data, although there are some tasks where qualitative data is also relevant. Typical uses for quantitative data in budget management include monitoring staff salaries and employment terms such as holiday entitlement, including benchmarking these with industry or sector standards. One use for qualitative data in budgeting may be where training is concerned. For example, if, following a training experience, trainees are given a survey to determine their perceptions of how useful the training was, this qualitative data may feed into analyses of Return on Investment (ROI) and future training decisions.

Workload

In certain contexts, both qualitative and quantitative data may feed into analyses of employee workload. In environments where employees are given daily, weekly or monthly targets, quantitative data can be used both to track employee performance in relation to these targets and to optionally review whether or not targets are realistic, revising them as necessary. Qualitative data may be a more effective tool for analysing workloads where more complex tasks are concerned, particularly tasks whose completion cannot be easily quantified. This would require some sort of employee dialogue such as a survey or questionnaire, gathering perceptions of workload, possibly including stress levels.

Management

Human Resources managers can apply both qualitative and quantitative data to various aspects of personnel management. A simple, everyday example could be analysing employee attendance and absences over a period, a task which would require quantitative data. However, if such an analysis developed into a further management activity such as disciplinary proceedings, qualitative data may come into play, for example when interviewing the employee in question. Another use for qualitative data in this context could be attempting to measure staff morale throughout an organisation, using a structured feedback system.

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