It’s official – the data revolution is in full swing. According to one recent report, 90% of businesses now say that data and analytics are key to their organization’s digital transformation initiatives.
However, this trend doesn’t yet appear to have penetrated the back office. More specifically, HR departments seem to be lagging. According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends paper, 55% of talent professionals say they still need help putting basic people analytics into practice. Furthermore, 73% say that people analytics will be a major priority for their company over the next five years.
While these numbers look promising for the outlook, they still illustrate that there’s a gap. More companies are implementing data and analytics than are using these business-critical tools to help drive employee-related decisions.
This gap could be a challenge, or an opportunity, depending on the lens through which you view it. The shift to a more digitized world means that labour markets are changing. Employees are becoming more prized for their soft skills, and there is increasing competition for talent in areas such as data science.
HR teams that are making use of tools like people analytics, time tracking apps and business intelligence software stand a better chance of staying ahead of this curve than those that don’t.
Here are six areas where HR can leverage people analytics to ensure you’re able to keep up with the digital transformation imperative.
1. Assisting with Recruitment
In the US, it costs an average of $4,000 to hire a new employee, with the process taking around 24 days. If the employee leaves within the first year, the employer isn’t likely to see much return on that investment.
Using analytics effectively can help make the recruitment process more efficient, reduce time to hire, and decrease the chances of making a poor hiring decision. Recruitment functions can use analytics tools to assess the effectiveness of their current processes against specific metrics. However, that doesn’t mean that you should approach your people analytics solution procurements lightly.
According to a LinkedIn report titled “The Future of Recruiting,” few companies use qualitative metrics such as quality of hire or candidate experience ratings, even though most agree that these metrics are important. By correlating data relating to your pool of job applicants with these qualitative metrics, it’s possible to see where there may be improvement opportunities. For example, roles that receive a high number of applicants may indicate that the role requirements could be tightened.
Artificial intelligence (AI) tools are also now available that will help the recruitment team to filter candidates and assist in making selection decisions. For example, using machine learning, algorithms can assess qualifications against job requirements to predict which are the best indicator of future performance in the role. They can also predict which candidates are more likely to accept a job offer and help to reduce selection bias.
Even in the digital age, recruitment bias is a prevalent issue. But autonomous analytical innovations can predict candidate suitability based on concrete data, performance history, and competency. This helps to even the playing field, creating more diverse, more dynamic workforces in the process.
If you feed your recruitment data systems with the best possible candidate criteria and make informed human decisions based on your shortlist, your hiring activities will prove fair, effective and beneficial to the long-term evolution of the business.
2. Strategic and Tactical Workforce Planning
It wasn’t too long ago that workforce planning meant capturing employee entries and exists on Excel sheets. These days, the tools available make the process far less transactional, providing the opportunity to use analytics to shape the workforce according to the needs of the organization.
Workforce analytical tools can pull data from HR systems to identify recurring and long-term labour issues, such as excessive overtime or ongoing sickness absence issues in particular teams. Even a change as simple as adopting a time tracking app can go a long way towards consolidating the data signals you need to optimize shift schedules.
Take the Texas-based Platform Group Gallery, for instance. Once the packaging company started to grow rapidly, which eventually led to its acquisition by California’s Chameleon Like, in 2018, management needed to optimize customer service operations, while streamlining staff management processes and payroll costs.
Using Microsoft Excel to reconcile everyone’s punch clock data, skills, shift preferences, and availability simply wasn’t possible anymore, according to a case study recently published by Deputy. To iron out its existing staff management inefficiencies, Gallery Board Packaging invested in integrating all of its data into a consolidated system that automated much of the grunt work that had previously been required.
As a result of utilizing its data more effectively, the company achieved its goal of improving internal communication, streamlined its people-driven processes, and boosted its customer service offerings, keeping a handle on costs in the process.
For enterprises operating shift rotations, algorithms can perform real-time analysis on customer footfall or demand, making continual updates to staffing requirements as needed.
Moreover, analytical tools can also help HR functions when it comes to organizational restructures and right-sizing, by calculating future workforce needs. They can also take much of the legwork out of forecasting severance costs, or be used to help identify candidates for internal moves to avoid job losses.
3. C-Suite Reporting and Buy-In
While some organizations place an enormous level of value of human resources, some organizations view HR as a necessary evil. But people analytics can prove integral in changing these stakeholders’ views on the matter.
To add maximum value to your HR-related initiatives, gaining executive-level buy-in is essential. Without support from the c-suite, your efforts concerning strategy, company culture, recruitment, and retention will become stunted.
On the other hand, by harnessing the power of people analytics, you will be able to present pivotal HR-related data and insights in a way that gets your company’s senior executives engaged with what you’re doing.
Dynamic data-driven reporting tools will empower you to arrange your most important people-powered metrics and insights in a way that is accessible and impactful in equal measures. By visualizing your most valuable people analytics data, your c-suite decision-makers will be able to understand how your proposed activities can help to boost workforce-based ROI at a glance.
If your staff-centric insights are quantifiable and tell a data-driven story, you far more likely to get your c-suite on your side which, in turn, will catalyze the success of your HR-based initiatives.
For instance, if you can prove that your new onboarding process has improved staff retention over three months with people analytics data, it’s all the more likely that your company’s executives will be inclined to offer further investment in this area.
Data-driven organizations across sectors are proven to outperform those without an analytical approach. And, buy-in starts from the top. Utilize the power of people analytics to create a deeper level of transparency with your business decision-makers, and the HR department will suddenly be seen as a key profit centre.
4. Improving Retention
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the median employee tenure is 4.2 years. However, age plays a significant factor, with tenure for the 55-64 year age group over three times the length of the 24-34 age group, who stayed in a job for under three years.
Given the costs of replacing employees are so high, organizations must be able to identify the reasons employees leave. However, some analytical tools can already take this a step further, using exit data and behavioural analysis to determine which employees or groups may be the biggest flight risks.
Algorithms can also assist in helping to understand which factors may entice employees to stay with the company, for example, offering learning opportunities, the choice of telecommuting, or a change of role. In addition to drilling down into behavioural analytics, then, people-centric data also aid retention by improving internal motivation and engagement.
Performance-driven people analytics offers a wealth of insight into individual output and competency. If you notice a dip in individual employee performance over a predetermined time frame, for example, you will be able to reach out and offer support or training. In doing so, you will boost engagement levels and, as a result, increase staff retention or loyalty rates.
Moreover, gaining access to performance analytics will help you reward and recognize achievement—an approach that will also result in increased employee motivation.
5. Honing Reward Strategy and Practice
Expanding on the previous point, according to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2019 report, only 11% of organizations have a rewards strategy that’s aligned with the organizational goals, and nearly a quarter said that they didn’t know which rewards their workers valued.
A coherent analytics strategy will enable organizations to conduct, collate, and analyze reward survey data, tracking trends over time. In doing so, it’s possible to identify those rewards that workers value the least and replace them with rewards that motivate people.
Analyzing benefit take-up can also provide deeper insights into how employees are using their rewards, justifying spend, or identifying ways to redirect it into benefits that would offer more value.
Furthermore, analytics can be applied to comparisons of rewards versus performance, on both an individual and organizational level. These insights can help to identify the best ways to motivate high performing teams and individuals with incentives that work.
On a more fundamental level, analyzing pay structures against internal and external market benchmarks can ensure pay equity and that the compensation structures in place are competitive.
When it comes to employee compensation and vocational value, striking the right balance is imperative. By drilling down into pay structure metrics and understanding when to reward loyalty or performance, you will create a happier, more productive workforce – a key benefit of advanced people analytics.
6. Breaking Down Silos
Studies show that organizational silos hinder collaboration and stunt communication. The world’s most successful organizations boast company cultures that are based on transparency and open communication.
Without empowering your employees with access to key information, you will create organizational silos that can cause internal friction and ultimately, slow down the progress of your business.
If you give everyone in the business access to people-centric data that allows them to perform and understand how each department within the organization is linked, you will break down communication barriers and encourage cross-departmental collaboration.
Moreover, by using data-driven tools to identify key departmental trends and patterns, you will gain the insight you need to create initiatives that benefit internal communication—removing any organizational silos in the process.
If you witness a silo forming, people analytics will provide you with the vision to nip the issue in the bud before it becomes firmly cemented into the cultural veins of the organization.
Some Additional Benefits of People Analytics
In addition to the above six core benefits of using people analytics to improve your HR initiatives, there are other business-boosting advantages that you should be aware of. People analytics will:
- Allow you to identify better quality talent sourcing pools and resources.
- Save time across all departments while boosting organizational output significantly.
- Refine your company’s cultural blueprint based on informed data-driven decisions that will assist the progression of the business.
- Utilize powerful insights that will make your HR department more robust, innovative, and adaptable to constant change. This is an effect that will ripple throughout the entire organization and foster a wealth of positive change.
The move to digital isn’t one that HR teams can afford to ignore. The organizations that will thrive in the decade ahead and beyond will be the ones that can keep up with the changes among employee skills and work patterns. Furthermore, they’re the ones that are starting to leverage the power of people analytics now as a means of anticipating what’s to come.
If you leverage data to your organization’s advantage, analyzing it in a way that transforms insight into action, you will push yourself ahead of the pack, earning sustainable success.
For more insights into the importance of driving organizational innovation, read “In Digital Transformation, HR is Your Most Trusted Friend.”