6 Ways Data Literacy Enables a More Resilient Workforce

Organizational resilience is becoming one of the most important traits for companies facing an ever-changing and unpredictable business landscape. Factors ranging from cutting-edge tech disruptions and geopolitical uncertainty to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and an inconsistent supply chain all highlight the pressing need for organizations to be flexible, adaptive, and able to withstand obstacles. Developing resilience can help organizations survive hard times and thrive in the face of uncertainty.

Data literacy is a crucial skill for employees to learn at any level in an organization. This is particularly true with the rise of big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive analysis; understanding and analyzing data is essential for making informed decisions and creating a more resilient workforce. 

This article explores the importance of a data-literate workforce for modern businesses and how development leaders can guide the transformation of their teams.

How Data Literacy Offers a Business Edge

By harnessing data as a driver of growth-oriented decisions, businesses can adapt to changes in their market and drive better outcomes and increased profitability. However, while it’s common to have a dedicated data analysis team onboard, few companies are currently investing in the data literacy skills of the rest of their workforce.

The level of data literacy an employee needs will vary depending on their responsibilities. For example, while technical professionals should be well-versed in data science, marketing and customer support representatives typically require a different level of literacy and fluency to perform their jobs effectively.

While data literacy levels may vary, data literacy is a skill that should be seeded throughout the organization and not siloed in the data or analytics department. This article explores how a base level of data literacy can foster an analysis-driven culture that enables a business to grow and thrive sustainably.

1. Identifying Potential Risks and Opportunities

Data literacy enables employees in various roles to identify potential security and privacy risks and growth opportunities for their organization. By properly interpreting data, employees can uncover trends and patterns that may not have been visible otherwise.

Regarding risks, employees could notice and flag any suspicious or noteworthy behavior in the market, effectively spreading the business's environment and market monitoring responsibilities to all employees. For example, market trends can help companies predict customers’ needs and stay ahead of the competition.

In addition to risk mitigation, data literacy can help an organization identify unique opportunities for growth and innovation. Data literacy can also provide information that helps employees develop new products and services with lower risk by only investing in growth opportunities supported by data.

2. Responding Effectively During a Crisis

Real-time data collection and analysis are vital for making informed decisions on a typical day. But they're essential in emergencies like natural disasters, cyber threats, or economic downturns.

Investing in data literacy development in employees can help organizations better leverage data during a crisis, allowing them to promptly assess the situation, track progression, and make strategic decisions toward solving the issue and minimizing damages. 

One example was the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations familiar with data usage could track the performance of their marketing campaigns, sales, and employee productivity even as they moved to remote work. In fact, enterprises with a strong foundation of data literacy maintained up to 5% higher enterprise value compared to their less literate counterparts.

Meanwhile, organizations that weren't data literate struggled to adjust to the new reality because they lacked the necessary insights to make informed decisions. They were also often forced to react to events rather than proactively plan for them, leading to missed opportunities and potential business losses.

Data can also help organizations better estimate the damages caused by a crisis or other adversity. This gives them the time to plan a remedy while also tracking and evaluating the effectiveness of their interventions. This is particularly prevalent when combating cyber threats and data breaches. A reliable monitoring and logging system will send out timely alerts of suspicious behavior. And logs can be used in forensic analysis post-incident, possibly reducing any penalty the targeted company might face.

3. Fostering a Culture of Continuous Learning and Innovation

Businesses looking to foster an internal culture of continuous learning and innovation also benefit from investing in data literacy. Employees can adapt and respond to challenges more quickly, helping build resilience and maintain a competitive edge. 

When all employees have the skills to interpret data, they’re encouraged to use it to experiment and be creative with their solutions and endeavors — leading to new ideas and innovations. Staying up-to-date on the latest tools and techniques means employees can use them to their advantage, arriving at solutions to their company’s challenges that help drive success.

Creating an environment supportive of data-based exploration and creativity means employees are more likely to share ideas and adequately evaluate the risks of operations and experimental solutions. Furthermore, organizations and employees can use data to track their growth in particular skills and projects.

4. Breaking Down Silos and Promoting Collaboration

By understanding how data works, employees are more likely to share datasets and analysis across departments in collaborative efforts, leading to closer-knit teams and improved adaptability in the long run.

For example, manufacturing companies can use data to track local and international supply chain disruptions, allowing them to prepare for any production or logistic difficulties beforehand. That’s because tracking requires input and information from various departments. By sharing information and working together — as opposed to operating in silos — employees can proactively identify and mitigate potential disruptions instead of only addressing them after the fact.

Employees can provide and share the tools and resources necessary to solve a specific problem or reach a new milestone, all while relying on data as their guide.

5. Enhancing Customer Experience

Customer experience is usually enhanced by extracting valuable insights into their behaviors and preferences. As a result, team members fully comprehend their customers’ needs, developing new services and products accordingly. For example, e-commerce businesses should constantly gather and analyze customer data to provide more relevant products and services.

This benefit is most prominent in customer-focused industries, such as retail, where employees can better serve customers and clients through data-driven insights. Data can help streamline various customer service processes — such as evaluating the performance of customer support employees and customer satisfaction scores — preferably through the development of specialized frameworks.

6. Driving Business Performance

Data literacy for employees can also be a critical driver of business performance, boosting a company’s bottom line by helping individual staff members make better and more informed decisions. This depends on the quality of the data and insights provided and how relevant and up-to-date the database is.

Logistics and transportation companies, for example, can optimize their routes and drastically improve delivery times, leading to improved customer satisfaction and cost savings, all through data analysis. By analyzing market trends and customer data, organizations, alongside their employees, can drive business performance upwards, creating a more resilient workforce that can adapt to various situations and challenges.

5 Ways Organizations Can Improve Data Literacy Workforce Rates

Achieving a base level of data literacy requires continuous effort on the business’s end, as it’s not easy to help employees acquire all the necessary skills needed to understand different types of data in their industry.

Luckily, an organization can improve employee data literacy rates in many ways.

1. Provide Training and Education

In-depth training offers the best, most efficient path to improving employee data literacy. This can be accomplished through mentoring, peer-to-peer training, and training and development programs — either in-house or in collaboration with a third-party partner. However, it’s best achieved through semi-synchronous, collaborative digital learning led by experts in the field, offering employees greater flexibility in their approach to learning.

Organizations can provide all the necessary study materials and bases for the skills needed to work with data effectively. Furthermore, those opportunities should be continuous so that employees remain up-to-date on the latest trends and tools in data analysis.

2. Develop a Data-Driven Culture

A well-developed data-driven work culture encourages employees to utilize data and insights in their decision-making processes and cross-department communications. This can be achieved by setting clear data-supported goals and creating an environment that supports experimentation and learning.

With room to learn and be creative, employees are more likely to use data in their work, developing the necessary skills to use it over time.

3. Use Data Visualization Tools

Data can be hard to grasp properly in its raw form. That’s why data visualization techniques can effectively bridge the gap between established data scientists and the average, non-technical employee.

Well-designed graphs and charts allow individuals to better interpret and analyze data processing outcomes — and even detect patterns and trends they might be able to act on.

4. Encourage Collaboration

Data isn’t a solitary endeavor; organizations should encourage collaboration among employees in the same department and across departments. By sharing knowledge, skills, and ideas, goals are more likely to be achieved, and data is more likely to evolve into valuable tools.

This collaboration can be further encouraged by hosting competitions and challenges that test employees’ tenacity and creativity regarding databases.

5. Reward Data-Driven Behavior

Alongside more traditional approaches to teaching data manipulation skills, an organization should encourage data-driven behavior among its employees. For example, sales representatives can utilize data from their previous interactions to personalize their approach to sales, improving their chances of closing deals and onboarding new customers. 

Additionally, with rewards in place, employees are more likely to rely on and develop data-based frameworks, tools, and observations to benefit their company.

Moving Toward a Resilient and Data-Driven Future

Investing in data literacy can significantly boost a company’s workforce resiliency and drive innovation, creativity, and data-driven decision-making. However, introducing data literacy to a non-technical staff from scratch can be challenging. Luckily, Correlation One is here to help.

Correlation One helps enterprises transform their workforce through data and digital skill development. We’re committed to helping organizations of all industries future-proof their workforce by preparing for a data-reliant future.

Reach out to us today to learn how we help enterprises build more diverse and high-performance data and analysis processes to boost business resiliency and workforce data literacy.