Sick Employees Blame Data Stress

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Doucefleur

Companies are paying for their inability to find data talent, and the costs are amounting to billions of dollars of lost opportunities. This is one of the stark conclusions from a new report from Accenture and Qlik.

Titled  “The Human Impact of Data Literacy” and conducted on behalf of The Data Literacy Project, the report found that most companies understand the value of data. But turning it into opportunities has been a struggle for many. The report found out that the real issue lies in employees’ ability to create business value with data.

The research showed that despite 87% of employees recognizing data as an asset, only 25% believed they’re fully prepared to use data effectively, and just 21% are confident in their data literacy skills — i.e., their ability to read, understand, question and work with data.

Additionally, only 37% of employees trust their decisions more when based on data, and 48% frequently defer to a “gut feeling” rather than data-driven insights when making decisions.

Lost days due to stress around information, data, and technology issues equate to billions in lost productivity.

When employees struggle to make sense of data, productivity and business value can be affected. Accenture and Qlik's survey of 9,000 employees around the world found that each year companies lose an average of more than five working days (43 hours) per employee. These lost days due to procrastination and sick leave stem from stress around information, data, and technology issues, and equate to billions in lost productivity around the globe.

When broken down into major countries, the losses are:

  • USD 109.4bn in the U.S.
  • USD 23.7bn in Germany
  • USD 15.16bn in Japan
  • USD 13.17bn in the U.K.
  • USD 10.9bn in France
  • USD 9.4bn in Australia
  • USD 4.6bn in India
  • USD 3.7bn in Singapore
  • USD 3.2bn in Sweden

"No one questions the value of data – but many companies need to re-invent their approach to data government, analysis, and decision-making. This means ensuring that their workforce has the tools and training necessary to deliver on the new opportunities that data presents," says Sanjeev Vohra, group technology officer and global lead for Accenture’s Data Business Group. “Data-driven companies that focus on continuous learning will be more productive and gain a competitive edge.”

31% take at least one day of sick leave due to stress-related to information, data, and technology issues.

Companies that do not reduce this gap will also directly affect the health of the employees. The report highlighted that 74% of employees were overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data, 36% stating that they will find an alternative method to complete the task without using data.

Data overload is also contributing to workplace stress noted 61% of respondents, while 31% take at least one day of sick leave due to stress-related to information, data, and technology issues. 

The research advised companies to focus on data literacy and training, instead of merely offering self-service access to data.

Employees who identify as data-literate are at least 50% more likely to say they feel empowered to make better decisions and are trusted to make better decisions. Furthermore, 37% of employees believe that data literacy training would make them more productive.

“There has been a focus on giving employees self-service access to data, rather than building individuals’ self-sufficiency to work with it,” says Jordan Morrow, global head of Data Literacy at Qlik and chair of The Data Literacy Project Advisory Board. “Yet, expecting employees to work with data without providing the right training or appropriate tools is a bit like going fishing without the rods, bait or nets – you may have led them to water, but you aren't helping them to catch a fish.”

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Doucefleur