Best digital initiative in HR/L&D

Office for National Statistics


From calculating the most popular baby names in the country to reporting unemployment rates, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the largest independent source of official facts and figures, delivering statistics and analysis covering all corners of society. The only thing the organisation couldn’t understand, however, was its own workforce.

In 2017, it decide that better metrics on staff was integral to delivering a more professional, efficient business. The HR team realised it needed to adopt a more analytical mindset if it wanted to be a credible, trusted partner in the business.

The resulting initiative started small. HR began by automation the way it communicated monthly workforce data to senior leaders. The old system was static, failed to give valuable insight and took up to three working weeks to collate.

Automating these workforce reports created space for HR to improve on the information it covered. It was able to produce more than 10,000 charts per month, compared to only 108 pre-automation, on an increased range of topic areas including absence, diversity and L&D. What’s more, collating data took less than two working days, saving valuable time and freeing up team members to work in other areas.

In August, the team armed 46 times more leaders with 93 times more data points on which they could make crucial business decisions. Leaders responded well to the increased data, and some reported they were able to make evidence-based decisions about their people for the first time.

By autumn, HR joined business colleagues in the use of statistical computing and programming packages, adopting robust statistical techniques to pave the way for strategic HR functions. This upskilling and continual engagement with senior leaders on their progress has enabled the team to grow its credibility and elicited support from its audience.

Today, HR has applied its people analytics to inform a new pay framework and policy, test person-job fit with psychological trait theory and investigate the use of AI to deliver better business outcomes.

The judges found the forward-thinking initiative fascinating and inspirational. They felt the “transformational” work the team was doing extended beyond the ONS to the HR profession more generally.

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