At Cubiks, we recently conducted a global survey looking into big data and people analytics and how these are applied by HR professionals. With vast amounts of people data now potentially available to employers, we wanted to take a closer look at these emerging issues and what they mean for employers around the world. Asking questions based on the use of data today, the challenges to implementing people analytics and the future aspirations of data use in HR, the survey results highlighted a number of key issues.
- HR realises the potential of people analytics; particularly for recruitment, performance management, talent detection and succession planning
- Employers feel they lack expertise in this area and haven’t yet established the necessary data infrastructure to get started
- HR doesn’t want to come across as the department that turns people into numbers, and this poses a significant challenge.
Only a third of organisations currently apply people analytics
The majority of organisations today do not yet apply people analytics. The survey results suggest that there are several major obstacles to these employers rolling out an analytics-driven approach; most significantly limited data infrastructure and lack of expertise.
People analytics use has not yet matured in HR
Of those respondents who indicated they were already using people analytics, most had been doing so for less than three years. Only 2% of respondents rated their use of people analytics as ‘advanced’. The survey results appear to show that within businesses starting to use people analytics, there is a need either for development of in-house skills or for engagement of specialist support. Only 31% of these organisations currently use external experts to assist with their people analytics processes.
The potential of people analytics is clear
The survey results demonstrated that while many organisations are in an early stage of deploying people analytics, HR professionals definitely see its potential. 91% said they hope to apply people analytics in performance management within 3 years. Significant proportions also indicated that they are looking to apply people analytics to make better hiring choices, improve succession planning and enhance learning and development.
Concerns about the image of people analytics in HR
A clear concern was highlighted by the survey results, with respect to the image of analytics. There appears to be some tentativeness around deploying an algorithm-based or data-driven approach in a traditionally ‘human’ business function. Over two thirds of respondents were either in agreement or unsure about whether applying algorithms might be perceived as ‘turning people into numbers’.
Jouko van Aggelen, Cubiks Partner and Head of People Analytics says:
“People Analytics will push HR to a new era in which they will be better positioned than ever to have fact-based discussions with a solid business impact. I fully understand the sensitivity and HR’s struggle with embracing data driven insight. However I’d like to challenge this perception, as people analytics enables HR to have a greater impact and (maybe even more importantly) to increase the ‘human factor’ in decision making processes.”
The Cubiks survey received 275 responses, predominantly from HR professionals or managers from large organisations working in a range of industries. Most significantly, these included; banking and finance, IT, business services, manufacturing and retail.
A full report on the survey will be published in the coming weeks. If you'd like to receive a copy, please get in touch using the form at the bottom of this page.