An introduction to people analytics

People data, which is collected by HR systems such as payroll, is analysed along with other company data, including operations performance.  The type of data includes:

  • Employee data, i.e. skills, demographics
  • Performance data, i.e. appraisal assessments
  • Everyday data from HR policies, i.e. company programme participation, attendance records.

Using data mining, patterns of behaviour are discovered, which can be turned into actions and applied to business processes.

The people analytics process

There is a tried and tested 7-step process in adopting a people analytics culture within the workplace.

Step 1 – it’s important to determine the data that is relevant to the company’s business goals and dig the data that is going to add value.  Digging the right data enables management to apply the relevant strategic tools.

Step 2 – when choosing the right people analytics tool, it’s important to research the different options and explore which one is right for your company.  Most people analytics platforms available offer a range of techniques including data mining, data visualisation and data transformation.  Testing the platforms to ensure that their features are going to match the analytical goals you are looking for is essential.

Step 3 – once you’ve decided on your ultimate goal and the data you require to achieve that goal, develop an action plan.  With a well-defined plan that’s been created using big data analytics, then applied to leadership development, managing talent and training capabilities, you will have a better understanding of how your business is functioning, and where changes may need to take place.

Step 4 – bear in mind at all times that with people analytics, you are collecting personal data from your workforce.  Therefore it is crucial that you are legally compliant in the way you are sourcing the data and the process you are using.  In addition, before you are allowed to publish or apply any of the insights you have learned, the resulting data has to be approved.  Privacy and data protection laws apply on all the data gathered and analysed.

Step 5 – Any basic data analysis process should remain simple and easy to apply, as well as being readable and quick to update.  Avoid complex, difficult-to-manage systems.    There needs to be a balance between all the elements of people analytics; build a team that has the right skill set to enable the process to be streamlined, with the relevant quality controls in place.

Step 6 – as with all business processes, there needs to be a measurable HR strategy that is based on fact and can be aligned to the company’s overall strategic development.  Develop KPIs that are clear, with ROI expectations, which is backed up by the data and plan of action.

Step 7 – technology is a part of our everyday lives and nowhere more so than with adopting a people analytics culture.  To be able to analyse big data and gather informative, insightful, real-time information that is easily accessible, you will need to take up the tech support offered by system providers.

Benefits of people analytics

There are a number of benefits that can be gained from using people analytics.

  1. More effective hiring — no longer do you have to rely on gut feelings. Being able to analyse potential candidates based on specific criteria to assess their ability to do the job, such as qualifications and experience, drastically shortens the hiring process.
  2. Improved employee experience within the workplace — data analytics will help to identify what employees feel strongly about, what they appreciate, and what they don’t like. Such insights enable employers to improve the work environment; happier staff equals better performance.
  3. Reduced employee turnover — people analytics enables HR and management to identify the reasons why a member of staff has left, and work to make the necessary changes to reduce turnover. By being able to see what employees find appealing about the business, such as the work culture and company structure, businesses are better able to improve employee retention and increase productivity.
  4. Better training opportunities — once you’ve hired the best talent, you then want them to grow and develop their skills. Without people analytics, it can be difficult to determine the true benefits of employee training.  With it, HR departments can determine which training courses are effective and which are not.
  5. Forecast future requirements — people analytics provides the data to be able to predict any future personnel requirements, avoiding any potential downtime in operations.

People analytics relies on two key technologies: data mining and data interpretation.  The information gained provides a valuable insight into the business’s employees and lead to better decision-making which is based on actual evidence.  People analytics allows employers to focus more on the human element of the business, highlighting a variety of issues, such as skills gaps.  There are four key areas that people analytics is transforming:

  • What HR is and what it does — HR is changing the way it operates, from recruitment and staff retention to measuring performance and identifying training requirements.
  • HR’s business interactions — how HR interacts with company stakeholders, both internally and externally, is being transformed with greater transparency and actionable insights.
  • HR’s relationship with employees — enabling HR to improve the employee experience.
  • The quality of insights is greater.

Today’s business environment is far more data-driven.  The aim of HR is to turn their records into data that can be used to evaluate processes, ultimately improving decision-making.

For many, the first step in looking for a new job is searching online, and as we hit January there are plenty of great job opportunities available.  At Atkinson Moss, we consistently work to listen to our clients and candidates, adapting to ever-changing needs, and will continue to do so in 2020.