Earlier this year, Mckinsey’s quarterly report asked HR chiefs to consider whether they’re using ‘people data’ to create value. It’s an interesting and topical issue, and one that we encouraged HR leaders to consider in our recent webinar on the use of analytics in business.
As Sage People’s recent survey showed, although 83% of HR and business leaders see workforce analytics as critical to business success, almost half have only basic capabilities – a clear indication that the subject is still a confusing concept for the majority. And even with the capacity to collect the relevant data, how many are really using it best effect?
Rather than focusing on the tech, however, our webinar centred on the actionable insights that HR analytics can deliver. With attention now firmly back on the employee as key to business success, businesses need to know their workforces better than ever before. So, if you’re getting lost in a proliferation of HR information and searching for that lightbulb moment, analytics is your answer.
Here’s an example of six things you may never have known about your workforce – but which shine a spotlight on the insight to be gained from HR analytics.
1. Do you know who your best performers are?
Look at the performance of your employees and whether this correlates with your company’s turnover to find out who the highest performers in your organization are. Data can help you look at different segments and groups of talent – gender, demographic, skill level, functions – and work out who are providing the best results. From there, you can try to work out whether your best people are experiencing your organization in a different way to those in different segments, and apply that knowledge across the business to generate better results.
2. Do you know the time and cost involved in hiring new recruits?
Understanding HR processes and activities can help you to generate a stronger workforce. Analytics allow you to look at how metrics vary for candidates from different recruiters, for instance, and how that produces variance in terms of time to hire, cost and quality of talent. Applying this across the HR function will help determine how best to grow and develop your workforce after hire, and identify different opportunities in the talent supply chain.
3. Do you know which employees are admired most by their peers?
It’s important to look not just at how the activities of an organization link to the qualities of its people, but how those activities directly impact a workforce. With employee engagement figures at a critically low ebb, determining which workers are most engaged and most productive is key. Productivity can be hard to measure, so using social peer-to-peer recognition to assess who is generating value can provide actionable insight.
4. Do you know whose skills will be most in demand over the next two years?
Different types of analytics can allow you to look forward as well as back, and work out what your business requirements will be in years to come. Looking at descriptive analytics, to see how things have changed can help businesses predict how things will change in future; a good exercise is to develop different scenarios and work out what activities might be needed to fill future skills gaps.
5. Do you know that the person sitting opposite you in the cafeteria could be your next CEO?
Analytics can also work out how well you understand the potential of both your employees and your business. Predictive analytics can facilitate more effective succession planning and identify candidates for future leadership roles. What qualities did your current leaders demonstrate when they were operating at junior levels? And how will this change for your business in the future? Only once you’ve identified the people who are demonstrating these same characteristics, can you ensure they are appropriately developed and rewarded.
6. Do you know where your workforce gaps are? (and how to fill them in order to meet your strategic goals?)
Business objectives will vary from sector to sector, and organization to organization. Your HR team should adapt to your changing business strategy, so figure out what works for you and what aspect of the workforce you need to focus on. Looking at what your key business priorities are for the future will result in different strategic focus for your HR activity.
With analytics becoming ever more central to good workforce management, it’s time to assess whether you and your team are confident using data, and whether you have the right balance of skills to be able to make the most of evidence based HR.
Ultimately, harnessing analytics for HR requires a balance of data, technology, flexible mind-set and forward planning. But the biggest secret to success? Just giving it a go!
If you’d like to listen to an on demand version of our webinar and get an insight to just what is possible in terms of employee knowledge, register here. And if you’re looking for more guidance on starting your own analytics adventure, be sure to read our recent report on the subject.