The reality of People Analytics – What’s HR doing and where are we going next?

A few years ago, it wasn’t unusual to hear Talent Management professionals expressing doubts about the value of People Analytics.

For many, this seemed to be yet another fad that would sweep through the HR world and then fade away as quickly as it had appeared.
It’s amazing then, how quickly People Analytics has become a vital part of how we do Talent Management. As workplaces continue to evolve, HR teams face increasingly complex challenges seeking talent to match their crucial competencies. And when tackling those issues, many now turn automatically to People Analytics to build their solutions.

Jakob Radeborn

Psychologist/Consultant Analyst

Sweden

People Analytics

Make your data work for you.

Find out more.

Can combining science with people management really succeed?

Talent Management should always, always put people first. Wherever you’re working, whatever kind of organisation you are, your people should be your highest priority. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be scientific in our approach to HR. When you deploy a scientific method as an underlying framework, your HR team can reap the huge benefits of collecting, analysing and drawing conclusions from objective data. And of course, HR won’t be the only ones experiencing the benefits – it naturally follows that your people will too.

 

That all sounds great, but what’s happening with People Analytics in the real world?

Oracle – one of the world’s largest software companies - recently published an international study with over 1,500 participants across 23 different countries. They investigated how HR and finance departments really use and apply data in their organisations.*1
The study highlighted that Analytics within HR management is now a standard procedure in many parts of the world. This is a dramatic shift from a few years ago, when Google was the only big player taking Analytics seriously and using it in a sophisticated manner.

Here are a few key stats demonstrating the extent to which Analytics is thriving all over the world. Of the study’s respondents:

  • 89% believes that their HR function is skilled at using data to make better decisions when identifying future personnel needs
  • More than half (51%) say they have the capacity to conduct predictive analysis which can be used as guidance for future actions
  • 94% believe that they can predict the likelihood of turnover in critical roles with a high degree of reliability.

So we’re doing better. But we’ve still got a way to go…

These findings are of course very encouraging. But at Cubiks, we understand the massive potential of People Analytics, and we know there’s still great scope for Analytics to grow. The Oracle study highlighted a few key obstacles and challenges people face when deploying Analytics, and I’d like to take this opportunity to explore a few of these and suggest how you can handle them.
Difficulties implementing your findings
This study indicates that analytics is becoming a standard procedure within HR even if it varies somewhat geographically and within different industries. Still, it is apparent that many organisations are struggling to fully utilise their collected data and the insights it can offer.

The key here is to have a well-planned and executed process for your Analytics projects. Always start with a burning question, and build your approach from there. And make sure you’re not only seeking to confirm what you already suspect are the answers. If you design your project intelligently, it will deliver truly actionable insights.

Visualising results

We also note that HR encounters a big challenge when looking to explain Analytics results in an interactive and engaging manner. We call this ‘telling a story with the data’. Without being able to clearly demonstrate the valuable insights you’ve found in the data, you’ll struggle to persuade your key stakeholders of its benefits and your project is likely to lose   impact.*2  
It's important to ensure at all times that every Analytics project is infused with the human touch. By keeping people, their challenges, ambitions and stories at the heart of the data, your project is bound to deliver compelling outcomes. There are a range of interactive data dashboards on the market that make your data beautiful, equipping you to easily, and visually explore, discuss and communicate the results.

Your analytics programme needs to become more than a tool. It has to be a part of your culture.

Bridging the data divide – learning to love data!  

As we always say at Cubiks, ‘People Matter’. You can have the most sophisticated Analytics tools invented, but if your people aren’t on board with the initiative, it isn’t likely to be a success. In many organisations, there’s still a ‘data divide’; i.e. analytics may be championed by one or two people, but generally people don’t know how to work with it or don’t understand it enough to reap its benefits. It’s like the old saying; ‘a hammer will not build a house on its own’.
Once your Analytics infrastructure is in place, you need to be sure that your HR department has the skills to deploy it in the best way possible to answer critical questions and plan for the future. This is a complex process, requiring a high level of competence and expertise. It’s therefore vital that your people are supported, either with in-depth training, or assistance from outside consultants.

Additionally, those managing the data aren’t the only ones who need to be on board. For real and far reaching impact, your analytics programme needs to become more than a tool. It has to be a part of your culture. When your people truly understand the value of Analytics, both for the organisation and for individuals, everyone can contribute, build and grow from the insights discovered.

cubiks people analytics logo with connecting blue dots icon and strapline

Download our People Analytics survey results to get a deeper understanding of the key issues, obstacles and opportunities analytics presents.

The future is bright!

By all accounts, data driven decisions connected to people will play a key role in the future. We’ve already seen a rapid rise in People Analytics becoming an integral part of HR. If the current trend continues, this integration will probably happen surprisingly quickly all around the globe.
There are extraordinary opportunities for HR departments to strengthen their positions within organisations. Analytics will help them demonstrate their value as a critical strategic partner with the competence and capacity to attract, recruit, keep and develop talents - one of the few competitive advantages in the market today.*3
This all might seem futuristic. It might look overly technical or confusing. But it’s increasingly clear that Talent Management professionals are quickly adapting, upskilling and learning to draw from Analytics.
Luckily, adaptability and creativity are two of the main strengths of our species. On top of this, we’ve got the world’s most complicated and advanced analytics tool of all time - the human brain. When you look at it this way, there’s no doubt that human capital will be pivotal to managing the issues we face today as well as preparing for the challenges of the future.  

If you would like advice on how you can begin to work with People Analytics in your own organisation, you’re welcome to contact us at Cubiks. Our statisticians and psychologists are market leaders in managing, interpreting and visualising psychometric data. It’s not only our expertise but our passion too.

 

References

1.    Davenport, T. & Anderson, D. HR Moves Boldly into Advanced Analytics with Collaboration from Finance. Oracle 28 (2019).
2.    Davenport, T. Is HR the Most Analytics-Driven Function? Harvard Business Review (2019).
3.    Isson, J. P. & Harriott, J. People Analytics in The Era of Big Data. (Wiley, 2016).

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