Finance, marketing, operations… all these departments get fancy numbers and a definite say in company strategy. HR? Not so much. However, it doesn’t need to be that way. With advances in technology and changing thoughts around how to use data best, YOU too can be the HR equivalent of Brad Pitt in Moneyball. *Shhh* The secret is people analytics!
Right, good question. Let’s clear up exactly what ‘People Analytics’ is. If your measuring, assessing, driving insights and making decisions around employees or your company’s workforce, that’s people analytics! Ideally, a practitioner will be applying a varying amount of statistics and technology to a range of workforce data to offer insights used to drive improved decisions by management (or any relevant stakeholder!). Staff likely are one of the most significant cost overheads your business has to support. It’s essential to get a positive return on this investment in people – how to do that? Measure, assess and drive actions → people analytics!
The vast majority of HR teams focus on and are pretty good at, descriptive statistics and the resulting (albeit limited) insights they provide. Reporting on descriptive statistics lends a focus on what has happened. As well as quantitative facts about what IS or what HAS happened. While this has been sufficient in the past, it’s time to do more with this data. Ideally, we’d want to know WHY or HOW specific statistics are the way they are as well as identifying actionable recommendations as to what can be done to improve the metrics measure.
Interestingly, according to Deloitte, “71% of companies see people analytics as a high priority, but only 9% believe they have a good understanding of which aspect of talent management drives performance in their organisations.” This highlights the need for HR professionals to deep-dive into diagnosing the why behind their data as well as how they can use these insights to improve internal processes.
There are a few ways to do this, the obvious one being technology. Modern recruiting and onboarding software provides an extensive data set of relevant insights that measure strategically essential goals. For example, a metric such as’ time to hire’ can not only be vastly improved by recruitment automation software but used to optimise the process. We can see what works and what doesn’t. You can implement more human touchpoints, or less, and measure the results. Then, you can then use these insights to drive improvements in performance, delivering tangible results to management. How could you use technology to answer the ‘why?’ in your organisation?
Drive a holistic strategy for implementing improvements to the insights derived from the above. Using current ideas and trends, predict what’s likely to happen next in the market. Then, apply this to your organisation’s internal workforce. Utilise the latest technology, software and predictive techniques to model future scenarios. Financial modelling is accepted & used prolifically, and whilst potentially more complex, it’s time to do the same with talent.
There are many examples of how this could be implemented and used, however, let’s take a closer look at one in particular: Google. They’re a leader in all things data – insights, modelling, advertising ROI, predictions, the list could go on… How do they apply this to their hiring process? A computer suggests all the questions that are asked to candidates during the hiring process. The machine learns over time to find the most appropriate candidate for the role.
Furthermore, they can drive specific insights, like the finding that salespeople who don’t move up the ranks within four years have a far higher chance of leaving. This data-point may mean it would be better to cut or promote them earlier than you might have otherwise, increasing the efficiency of the talent pool and recruitment spend. I challenge you to think about how you could use a similar AI-driven approach to a variable in your organisation!
While people analytics hasn’t been a skill set that recruiters and other HR professionals have traditionally utilised in the past, it’s a massive area of opportunity moving forward. Your organisation must prioritise developing this area of the HR function to drive better insights and results from their existing and future talent pool. In this article, we’ve taken a look at what people analytics is. We’ve also covered how to improve your current efforts, as well as a glimpse into how the very best do it. In the future, the HR function will increasingly embrace technology and move towards the direction of predictive talent reporting and trend forecasting to derive strategic management actions.
I hope this article has provoked a few thoughts in your mind as to how the HR and recruiting function will adapt to technology and changes in management expectations around recruiting and talent insights when it comes to higher-level strategy. ‘People Analytics’ raises the role HR has to play in setting company goals and direction – it’s an exciting opportunity. I challenge you to make the most of it!