7 Key Essentials for your People Analytics Strategy

Hannah Wright
Published on 3rd April 2017
3 min read

People analytics, the analysis of large sets of people data, to make better management and business decisions for an organization, is going to be big in 2017. Josh Bersin, people analytics expert and founder of Bersin by Deloitte believes that in 2017 analytics is no longer a “nice to have”, but is mandatory for high-performing HR teams. It will no longer be perceived as purely a HR tool but a wider business tool that impacts the whole business.

Yet, some companies are still struggling to tap into the full potential of their people analytics tools and they are not alone. Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report contended that only 8% of organizations report they have usable data, while only 9% believe they have a good understanding of the talent factors that drive performance. Some HR departments may still struggle with clunky HR systems, disparate data pockets, and a lack of the right data skills set. As daunting as it sounds, doing nothing about it is no longer an option as the modern workplace becomes increasingly digital. There is however, plenty of guidance on hand, and if HR teams adhere to seven key steps, they can optimize their people analytics systems effectively.

Align your people analytics strategy with your business strategy

Ensure your people analytics strategy is in line with your business objectives.

It should not be an annex to your business strategy but rather be an integral part of it, if your business is to achieve its goals. By using people analytics, organizations can get a comprehensive picture of what’s working and what isn’t. It takes the guesswork out of your most important workforce decisions, ensuring that you better manage people risk, match employees to jobs, reward people appropriately and are more efficient and cost-effective.

Encourage a culture of data based decision-making

Encourage a shift away from decisions made on experience and instincts alone and use the data to inform, quantify and underline those decisions. People analytics is the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data to drive good people related business decisions. Organizations with advanced people analytics capabilities “produce output that is 5% to 6% higher on average” than their competitors, according to Bersin by Deloitte research.

Make people analytics your HR mantra

HR departments should promote people analytics as the new normal, not as an “add on” or a “nice to have” but an integral part of any HR function to do its job and support the company’s business strategies with better, faster workforce decisions informed by data.

Collate, clean and ask your data the right questions

Without data, you have nothing. It is critical that you have enough historical data, that it is located in one place (or at least can be drawn together easily), that it is clean (there is little point in having old or useless data which will slow you down), that you are asking your data the right questions to fulfill your criteria and that you have a flexible enough system to run searches quickly and efficiently in real time in order to make informed decisions.

Get the right data analytics skill set

One of the biggest challenges for HR professionals is the lack of analytics expertise to interpret the data. A Harvard Business Review survey of executives found that 47% believed the biggest obstacle was a lack of analytic acumen or skills among HR professionals.

People analytics cannot replace the role of HR professionals, however HR teams do need to up-skill or hire in data analysts to use their judgment and expertise to carefully assess the quality of the data being collected, to contextualize and make sense of the analyses, and to decide how the results should be best turned into action. This is the critical thinking that algorithms cannot replace.

Communicate your findings effectively

In business, analytics expertise isn’t just the ability to perform statistically sound analysis, it’s also the ability to ask the right questions, prioritize ever-competing demands with often tight budgets, and tell a clear and cohesive story with the data that drives action. At the end of the day, if you cannot communicate your findings in a compelling way, then they are effectively useless and you will not affect change in your business.


Put people at the center of people analytics

Don’t forget the “people” in people analytics. Although the technology is used to drive business objectives, it is the people that drive your business. People analytics can therefore be used to help employees which will have a positive impact on your business. For example, by using people analytics, HR can proactively support employee health and wellbeing thereby creating happier and healthier employees, which will in turn boost their performances and their longevity with the company

Browse more topics from this article

HR Analytics HR Strategy Workforce Visibility