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Blog : People Analytics - where to start?


People Analytics - where to start?

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By guest blogger, Sally Brand

When typing ‘people analytics’ into Google, I nearly fell off my chair when 140m results popped up. We all know it’s a hot topic in HR and the wider business world.

As always, the end goal is to uncover ways to help organisations attract, develop, engage and retain the right people to drive growth and profitability. So how can people analytics effectively support this? And with so much information out there, where do you start?

As with all business needs, the key thing is to start with ‘why’ - what issues are you actually trying to address? Is it poor retention, leadership capability, low employee engagement or a lack of succession planning? For example, people analytics could you help you understand the skills/competencies you have in the business (and those that are missing) to influence internal people movement.  

Once you are clear on your business priorities, look at the type of approaches and technology to suit your needs and business culture so that you’re not merely ‘measuring HR’ though using data to better understand and predict business needs and outcomes.

Taking time and effort to consider how this will help ensures that you are able to create value for your business. It can be unnervingly easier than anticipated to implement a system and process which, at best, the business is disinterested in, and at worst, just doesn’t work. As the CEB has found, “only 8% of senior HR leaders believe they are getting returns on their talent analytics” - there is clearly work to be done!

Once you have reviewed what your business needs, Bersin and Associates have identified four key stages in the effective implementation of people analytics as follows:

  1. Reactive
  2. Proactive
  3. Strategic
  4. Predictive

They explore how to apply this here.

Before getting started it is important to ensure that the data you are working with is clean and up to date. Data, ideally, should be linked and merged where possible to avoid duplication to support the most effective analysis.. To achieve this, and avoid a silo approach, it’s beneficial to involve other key departments such as sales, marketing and IT as early as possible.

At this stage it is worth considering the pros and cons of single vs multiple vendors. Business leaders agree there is no single system which does it all when it comes to effective people analytics (if there is I’ve not seen it, read about it or met a business that has it!). As such, savvy businesses are integrating systems so that they can make best use of the expertise of large, core system vendors as well as exciting new tools, which are usually only available from small, innovative vendors.

Ultimately, from talking to multiple companies and data experts about people analytics, the key learning is that high performing businesses keep things simple. They understand their cultural and business needs, source a tailored solution, aren’t afraid to evolve and they work with expert partners who really understand their end goals and culture.

If you haven’t introduced people analytics to your organisation, or you are a business that isn’t getting the results you need, it is worthwhile taking things back to basics without trying to ‘boil an ocean”’

For further insights into the contemporary role of people analytics in improving business performance download, Purple Cubed’s purple paper here.

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