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The adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been more relevant than in today’s popular visual media culture. Visual communication is used everywhere—in education, media, entertainment, art, and now more than ever, in the world of business.

Companies are recognizing the immense potential of visualizing their data—especially when it comes to uncovering insights and better communicating to stakeholders. Human Resources (HR) teams, in particular, are seeing the vast benefits of data visualization.

HR has access to a large variety of data such as employee data, pay information, engagement scores, feedback, surveys, email responses, and performance reviews. Luckily, advances in technology have made it possible for organizations to store, model, and transform their HR data into meaningful visual insights allowing for:

  • Faster, more accurate people decisions based on in-context insights

  • Better collaboration with other departments to create effective HR resources and programs

  • Effective workforce planning with data from across the enterprise

  • Proactive decision-making during uncertain business environments with a comprehensive view of all business data across the enterprise

  • Gain leadership buy-in with easy-to-understand dashboards and visualizations

Below, we’ll explore these vast benefits of data visualization and how an analytics and data visualization strategy can lead HR teams to success.


Table of Contents:

What is Data Visualization?

Data visualization is the graphic representation of data. It's an efficient way of communicating information, particularly when that information is numerous. Visuals such as charts, graphs, maps, and bars help to communicate a story about your data so that stakeholders can clearly and easily consume and understand patterns of information in an efficient manner.

Businesses face an ever-increasing flow of data and are challenged with gaining insight from enormous data lakes. When data is translated into insights, you can better understand your business processes, make informed decisions, and pivot your business strategy confidently.

Effective visualization helps make complex data more accessible, understandable, and useable.

HR and the Role of Data Visualization

HR works with an enormous amount of data—from pay information, employee data, engagement scores, feedback, surveys, email responses, to performance reviews. This also includes core data such as name, personnel number, assigned organizational unit, days of vacation, special qualifications, and position details. And the bigger the company, the greater the amount of information.

The fact is, this large amount of HR data contains extremely valuable insights, key performance indicators (KPIs), industry trends, and potential future outcomes. And this information can provide HR with a means to deliver strategic recommendations and drive better experiences for its company and people.

While this data is essential to drive business success, it’s a tremendous task for any department to collect and make sense of all that HR data. This is where data visualization and analytics can help.

Data visualization encourages your HR teams to interact and engage with their data and metrics—in a way that is easily consumable by all. When done correctly, data visualization enables your people to get to the truth more quickly—a crucial component of high-stakes decision-making.

Let’s take a look at some examples of data visualizations relevant to HR:

1. KPIs, Charts, and Graphs: Gain instant insight into your workforce, headcount, talent, recruitment, performance management, and diversity, with easily digestible visuals.


2. Maps: Such as geo maps and heat maps. Discover People trends across locations in an interactive way.


3. Forecasts: Identify workforce shortages and risks, determine demand and supply, and discover workforce gaps with forecasting.


Interested in learning more about SAP's Enterprise Strategy for SuccessFactors? 

Read the blog

The Top Benefits of Data Visualization for HR Teams

1. Make better hiring decisions

Hiring new talent is an expensive process in terms of time, money, and effort. That’s why it’s crucial to recruit the right people with the right skillset at the right time.

Data-driven recruitment is the key to hiring and retaining the best talent for your business objectives. Data analytics and data visualization can be used to discover patterns and correlations in your data. For example, whether there are certain characteristics that the top performers have in common. Using this information, HR can lead insightful hiring decisions at a lower cost.

Integrating a data-driven approach versus not utilizing one is the difference between making decisions based on facts rather than on a gut feeling. The data-driven approach will always lead your company towards the truth and as a result, to success.

2. Elevate your workforce planning

A big part of the workforce planning process is analyzing your data and distilling your findings into easy-to-consume dashboards and visualizations. The right data visualization and analytics tool will allow you to:

  • Detect trends: Track trends through time and across different periods, such as annual, quarterly, monthly, and seasonal time models.

  • Create actionable visualizations: Answer key questions about your workforce and spot risks and opportunities rapidly with visual, interactive HR analytics.

  • Plan and simulate future outcomes: Use ad hoc and what-if analysis to explore alternative courses of action and compare the impact of potential decisions.

3. Improve retention rates

Retaining the best employees continues to be one of the biggest challenges for companies. To reduce the cost and disruption of attrition, analytics and visualization tools can help you uncover the reasons behind employee retention.

Using the information gathered, you can proactively take the right action to prepare for vacancies and skills shortages and address employee engagement needs before your staff leaving. In other words, data visualization and analytics equip your business with the agility to anticipate employee turnover and make better strategic decisions.

4. Develop more effective training and development programs

Training and development programs are a necessity for business performance. However, gaps in training processes can increase costs and introduce unwanted challenges. If not handled properly, training programs can negatively impact your company’s budget.

To create effective training programs, it’s important that you are leveraging your employee data to identify opportunities and gaps in your training. Using data visualizations, you can pull insights on which training programs are performing well, what types of employees (based on characteristics) suit what type of learning environments, and which employees are most likely to seek additional learning resources. Using this information, you can better optimize the time, resources, and money spent on different training programs for specific employees.


5. Visualize future trends and workforce needs

HR managers know how important it is to detect future trends and potential outcomes, such as flight risk or salary budget. Data visualization combined with predictive analytics allow you to simulate and identify or visualize future trends and patterns so you can act ahead. When looking for your solution, make sure you have basic capabilities, such as automated forecasting, or more advanced features like predicting future outcomes to identify the probability of specific scenarios.

Data Visualization Use Cases for HR

Want to learn more? Check out the following use case blogs to learn how HR leaders Susan and Jasmine from Best Run Bikes leverage data visualizations and analytics to improve their HR planning and processes:

  • Headcount planning use case: Meet Jasmine, an HR Manager and avid SAP SuccessFactors user at Best Run Bikes. Jasmine is responsible for creating her company’s Headcount Report but has run into some roadblocks, such as slow access to data, fragmented plans, and inability to extract insights. Discover how Jasmine streamlined her Headcount Reporting process by leveraging connections, data visualization tools, and augmented analytics to improve her headcount planning process.

  • How to hire, retain, and train top talent use case: Susan, an HR executive at Best Run Bikes is looking to optimize hiring, retention, and training across the company. Learn how Susan uses SAP Analytics Cloud’s data visualization tools to make better decisions for her company’s hiring and training programs.

SAP Analytics Cloud – all analytics, all users, one product. Discover a new generation of cloud analytics.

To learn more about how analytics can work with your line of business explore the Ultimate Guide to Enterprise Analytics.