Employees Lack Data Literacy Even as the 'Analytics Economy' Dawns

Posted: 2/2/2018

Employees Lack Data Literacy Even as the 'Analytics Economy' Dawns


Kathryn Moody@KatMMoody

Valerie Bolden-Barrett


Jan. 31, 2018

Dive Brief:

  • Another skills shortage is emerging with little fanfare: data literacy, according to a study by analytics data firm Qlik. The U.S. Data Literacy Survey revealed that just 33% of employees were confident about their data literacy skills, which include the ability to read, analyze, and work and argue with data. Qlik surveyed 1,920 business decision makers across industries.
  • Data literacy and analytics skills allow employers and workers to make strategic decisions in what's called the "analytics economy," Qlik claims. The survey found that most respondents (97%) think that data improves their job performance and raises their credibility (87%); 74% believe their employers would value them more if their data literacy improved; and 82% said they would invest more time and energy into improving their data literacy ability.
  • The survey also shows that 55% of workers don't have the education to make decisions based on insight from data and instead make decisions based on feelings.

HR leaders, like IT and financial professionals, oversee and maintain high volumes of data. HR knows somewhat personally the value of data literacy and its impact on the workplace, often using analytics for decision-making and planning strategies.

Clearly, HR leaders have an opportunity to provide data analytics training as both a retention tool and a pipeline creator. More employers are looking for candidates that understand data storytelling, so being able to seek out talented individuals internally would go a long way in helping employers remain agile in a shifting market. And solid employee development programs are, naturally, a boon to engagement.

But even the HR department is struggling to reconcile the new data frontier with their long-held expectation to be a manager of people — aka to have mostly soft skills, with little tech experience required. HR departments that cross the divide by focusing on what the data reveals about their key personnel goals, rather than corralling as much data as possible, will stay afloat in the coming years.