A people analytics strategy that draws data from all segments of theÂ business is key to effective workforce planning and management.
By Simon Kent
For such a data-rich function, HR can seem behind theÂ curve when it comes to making the most of the numbersÂ it records about the workforce. But whilst finance andÂ operations may still take the lead on number crunching,Â it is clear that HR has the potential to tap into itsÂ organisational people data to not only to deliver moreÂ value, but to demonstrate that value to organisation itÂ serves.
Bernard Marr, author of the book âData-Driven HR,âÂ highlights two reasons why HR is challenged when itÂ comes to realising the power of data. âFirst, the currentÂ HR data sets tend to focus on everything that is easy toÂ measure rather than the data points that really matter,âÂ he says. âSecond, most of the data remains in siloes withÂ very little analysis applied to it.â
This disconnected approach leads to the perception thatÂ there is a lack of strategy to HRâs relationship with dataâmeaning that data points collected for purposes such asÂ recruitment, rewards, and performance exist withoutÂ leading to a broader analysis of the bigger, strategicÂ impact of HR on the businessâbut a global revolution inÂ people analytics is transforming this perception.
Data in Action
Even limited data collection and analysis can enableÂ particular elements of HRâs work. For example, HR teamsÂ can leverage data to improve four essential functions.
- Upskilling. According to Tom Ricks, senior directorÂ of culture and talent systems and people analytics atÂ Qlik, the right data can help HR teams identify whereÂ employees need upskilling, helping themÂ feel more confident in their role andÂ improving employee retention rates. âIn theÂ light of a talent shortage affecting multipleÂ industries, having access to these insightsÂ will prove vital in the longer term forÂ businesses who want to shore up a futureÂ talent pipeline,â he says.
- Compensation. Ruth Thomas, principalÂ consultant at Curo Compensation, saysÂ a comprehensive, data-based talentÂ management platform can createÂ actionable insight for HR. For example,Â by analysing compensation data togetherÂ with an employeeâs profile, technology canÂ show managers how a proposed employeeÂ salary fits within and impacts the overallÂ compensation structure for the business.Â This in turn helps the business achieveÂ greater equality across its workforce.
- Employee experience. Cathy Temple, viceÂ president of HR at Oracle, suggests thereÂ is a movement towards analysing data forÂ the good of the worker. âData insights inÂ HR are transforming the ways we help andÂ support our employees,â she says. âThe useÂ of big data in employee journey trackingÂ allows us to understand how happy ourÂ staff are in their roles and then take theÂ steps to boost morale or identify alternativeÂ roles that may be a better fit.â
- Recruitment. âData insights are also highlyÂ effective in recruitment and promotion,âÂ Temple adds. âThrough the use of âwhatÂ ifâ scenarios, we can hypothesise theÂ effect of new hires and changes within theÂ team and how this will impact the overallÂ dynamic of the organisation. This is just theÂ beginningâby making the most of peopleÂ insights, we can create better businessesÂ and happier employees.â
According to Kirsten Edwards, authorÂ of the book âPredictive HR Analytics,âÂ organisations can gain a further advantageÂ by bringing together disparate data intoÂ a single source of truth. âUnless you haveÂ a fully integrated HR analytics team thatÂ is well networked into individual parts of HR, it is likelyÂ that many parts of the HR offering may be analysing data without connecting up with other parts of the HR team.Â The real value comes from linking different data sourcesÂ across HR, such as recruitment and diversity or talentÂ review data and retention, to understand any trends orÂ patterns.â
Jane Keith, CHRO at IFS, leverages this approach,Â combining data insights from across the business toÂ enhance the three key deliverables of a successfulÂ HCM strategy: operational capacity planning, skillsÂ development, and strategic capability planning. KeithÂ believes the driving force behind all of these deliverablesÂ is clear, concise, and easy-to-access data.
Moreover, by using the correct data, IFS is able to developÂ workforce plans that align with short-term as well asÂ long-term company needs. âIn the short term, data fromÂ operations and projects provides the demand signalsÂ for capacity planning, where certified resource capacityÂ can be mined to provide a suitable fit to enable supplyÂ to match,â she explains. âMedium-term demand signalsÂ compared to current supply capability and capacity allowÂ for skills and capacity gap analysis to inform training,Â development, and recruitment. Long-term demandÂ signals from the strategic outlook and socio-economicÂ trends provides the information to advise on futureÂ role requirements, including skills, demographics, andÂ culture.â
Gathering the right kind of data to do this requiresÂ comprehensive and effective systems, but rather thanÂ seeing this as a barrier, Keith argues that similar resourcesÂ are frequently utilised by other parts of a businessâsoÂ why should HR be neglected?
âAn extensive amount of time and money is spentÂ by companies evaluating customer data, but similarÂ rewarding insights can be gleaned from doing theÂ same with current and potential employees,â she notes.Â âEase and speed of collecting and evaluating data isÂ critical, giving HR teams insight in what they need toÂ adjustâhiring trends, cultural fit, time to hire, timeÂ to productivityâunderstanding market data to makeÂ quick and rewarding decisions for both the new hire andÂ existing employee population.â
As HR continues down the path of developing its use ofÂ data, the wider world of information data and collectionÂ is also bringing other challenges to light.Â Thomas of Curo Compensation raises the ethicalÂ dimension to collecting and managing people data.
âWeâre collecting a lot of data from employees but weÂ have to be careful of who owns that data,â she says,Â adding that this situation will be more complex if anÂ employee works for a number of different organisations,Â as may be the case for contractors in the growing gigÂ economy. âLarger organisations are now hiring chiefÂ ethics officers, so itâs no longer just about countingÂ heads and getting the data,Â itâs about doing that processÂ ethically,â she concludes.