Various respected technology analyst and industry commentators agree that people analytics is a top priority for HR, but few organisations seem to be really nailing it.
In 2017, Bersin by Deloitte found that businesses with analytics capabilities ‘produce output that is 5% to 6% higher on average’. The same report indicated that analytics was a high development priority in 70% of businesses.
That was echoed a year later by Fossway Group’s 2018/19 future scoping HR technology report, which named analytics as the top HR technology concern for HR and business leaders.
Fast forward another year, and Deloitte’s 2019 Human Capital Trends report states, ‘Despite the intense interest in better data management, only 26% of respondents report effectively using technology and analytics.’
Not surprising, then, that a brand-new survey from myHRfuture just found that, by some distance, HR professionals’ top skills development aim for the next year is, yes, people analytics.
While developing people analytics should by no means be the first step on HR’s digital transformation journey – here are some steps you can take to kickstart the process in your organisation.
(Incidentally, this article shows where analytics fits into that digital HR journey: ‘The first 8 steps in your digital HR strategy’)
Establish clear objectives
What are your strategic objectives? Reduce turnover, retain talent, improve recruiting efficiency or boost engagement? Data analytics can uncover insights that support your efforts in many areas, but for the project to drive real value, it must be aligned with bottom-line organisational strategy.
Everyone involved in your analytics implementation needs an implicit knowledge of what these objectives are so they can understand how their data practice and analysis contributes.
Without data, analytics is nothing. So one of the first steps in delivering game-changing strategic insight is to ensure that your analysis tools have access to the data sources they need. Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends survey suggests that many organisations run multiple siloed people data systems, with some companies operating up to nine different systems of record, and only 5% integrate their HCM application into other business systems, like ERP, PSA or Sales.
If this sounds familiar, your first mission is to work with IT to integrate as many of these data sources as possible. Accessing data across disparate systems is time consuming, error-prone and painfully inefficient, so for analytics to stand any chance of delivering value, you need to centralise your core HR data; demographics, overtime, absence and leave, performance, remuneration, recruitment and development.
Identify your metrics
If you’re in a traditional HR function, self-service analytics dashboards are going to change your life.
Incorporating all your core HR data into an analytics platform will allow you to track and analyse basic metrics and create data visualisations that highlight correlations and trends.
Common analytics metrics include:
- Revenue generated per employee
- Voluntary and involuntary turnover
- Turnover rate by team or department
- Talent churn risk
- Absence costs
- Time to hire
- Formal job-offer acceptance rate
- Average time to promotion
- CPD effectiveness
The age where HR was expected to produce huge monthly performance reports that may or may not be read is being rapidly supplanted by a brave new world where that same information is available on demand to anyone with the security credentials to access it.
More advanced analytics can incorporate additional data sources, like internal communications, to measure morale and engagement through sentiment analysis, or third-party data, like HMRC, to benchmark your organisation against its competitors in areas like gender pay gap reporting. This makes data analytics a valuable resource, providing employers the opportunity to utilise HR and payroll software in addressing inequalities that might exist within their own organisation.
And using modern HCM applications, you can create and share personalised dashboards with c-suite leaders, which they can then personalise further if they wish, and that will display a realtime snapshot of the metrics most pertinent to their sphere of responsibility.
Become a data storyteller
Metrics, analytics, spreadsheets and visualisations are a relatively new addition to our five million years of cognitive evolution. So, if you need to provoke action, or you require busy staff to quickly understand and pay attention to an important point, it pays to use an ancient method of communication that all humans are innately wired to understand. Stories.
The best analysts use data to tell a story, with visualisations highlighting how their metrics are relevant to key organisational challenges.
Busy c-suite leaders, who may not have a technical grasp of metrics, will more easily grasp the meaning and value of your data when presented in a narrative, where key insights clearly demonstrate cause and effect relationships as part of an overall story.
Compelling stories, backed up with fact-based visualisations, enable leaders to draw the right conclusions from even the most massive and complex data sets.
You might also like, ‘Opportunities and challenges in the age of HR data’.