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The Power of People Analytics

April 01, 2020 Blog Post

You have the data, but are you leveraging it effectively? People analytics goes beyond pulling data, it’s about putting that data to good use. It can help your business recruit better talent, increase productivity, improve engagement and drive business decisions.

Most businesses today are sitting on a wealth of valuable information and data. Few are taking full advantage, though, because it can be difficult to access and digest. According to Deloitte, ‘people analytics’ are quickly becoming the new currency of HR, creating opportunities to better understand and impact your people, and make better organizational decisions.

If you’re not already, it’s time to get comfortable with analytics. There are a number of KPIs you can track (and may already be tracking): employee demographics, headcount, retention and risk factors, labor costs.

But, analytics go beyond just pulling data. The real impact comes from what the data means and how it can drive decisions. With the right insights, you can improve recruiting efforts, increase productivity, develop a more talented workforce, reduce turnover, drive employee engagement, and connect people to the business.

Getting Started and Putting Data to Use

It’s one thing to collect information in your HR system. It’s another to know what to do with it. Information overload is all too common, especially when most HR teams are short on resources and time. First, you need to identify and focus on what’s most important to your organization:

  • Start small. Identify those areas that create the most challenges for your HR team and the organization. If you are facing a tight labor market, that might be retention data and hiring trends. If the company is concerned with labor costs, you may want to track employee productivity and overtime pay trends. The key is where you can have an impact.

  • Pick the low hanging fruit. What can you look at easily and translate into action vs. just information? For example, what data is readily available in the system that would help address a challenge or opportunity? What would you do with the information if you had it?  

  • Distinguish between regular and situational reporting. There may be some standard KPIs you want to track regularly, like headcount and turnover, vs. reports that you will only need occasionally, such as regional compensation comparisons.

Every organization’s situation is different. If you’re not sure where to start, here are several ways that data can be used to drive results in the organization.     

Recruiting

There are a couple of angles to consider with recruiting metrics – which recruiting channels drive more candidate traffic, which lead to faster position fills, and which provide the most qualified candidates. Not only do you want to know how you get the best candidates, you also want to know trends on which candidates stay.  

This type of recruiting analysis helped GT Midwest, a mid-sized manufacturing company, discover that its employee referral program was delivering a 10% higher retention rate than other recruiting investments. The result was a significant improvement in recruiting effectiveness and a stronger, more talented organization.

Turnover Risk

Measuring employee retention by position, manager, and region can highlight underlying organizational issues and help inform leadership where additional training and succession planning might be needed. Tools with predictive analytics can use data points like drive time, compensation comparisons, and even LinkedIn updates and job searching activity to predict potential turnover candidates.  

Stonewall Kitchen, a specialty foods company, uses data about their seasonal turnover patterns to anticipate hiring needs and plan for staffing changes.

Employee Engagement

As the market for potential candidates tightens, understanding employee sentiment is a crucial factor in gauging your company culture and retaining great talent. One specific measure is an employee net promoter score (eNPS) – how likely employees are to recommend your company as a good place to work. When you know where you stand with eNPS surveys, you can do additional surveys to learn what might be contributing to a low or high score and how you might act on it.

Surveys of course offer opportunities for feedback and insight to known options. With machine learning, survey tools also offer sentiment scores on those tricky open-ended questions. As a result, HR teams know what employees really want, how positive they feel and can measure improvement on employee engagement from one survey to the next.

Diversity and Inclusion

This is an increasingly important topic for recruiting, retention and your company culture. Demographics data can show whether or not you have diversity among your current workforce and across all levels of your organization. And compensation analytics can help address any pay equity differences.  Of course, diversity and inclusion goes beyond numbers and demographics. It’s important to factor in diversity of background, skill sets, and life experience. And a true comprehensive program addresses best practices that foster diversity and inclusion throughout the organization.     

Learning & Development Program Participation

The investments you make in learning and development are significant, so it’s essential to pay attention to which offerings are effective. You can compare metrics like program usage and completion rates, which may indicate certain programs should be eliminated, or additional training and follows ups are needed. Trackable training also simplifies compliance – you know your team has taken their anti-harassment training (and who hasn’t) and can easily follow up.

Cost Management

Tracking labor costs, overtime pay, and expenses is business 101 and having a core set of standard reports makes for easy measurement. For example, Overtime Reporting can alert you to when specific employees are approaching overtime pay requirements so you can quickly adjust schedules.  At GT Midwest, the HR Manager did an analysis that highlighted variances in mileage costs as a percentage of sales revenue. This provided sales leadership with key insights to evaluate territories and processes.

Making People Analytics Easy

Once you’ve identified a few key metrics, how do you get at them in a way that makes them useful? You shouldn’t need a PhD to run reports. Once you’ve identified those key KPIs mentioned above, take a stab at pulling the data you need. If you’re getting frustrated or simply can’t find it, you might want to consider if you have the right tools in place to take advantage of your people analytics.

Easy-to-use reporting and visual dashboards are necessities here.  This is a common stumbling block for many analytics efforts. If you can’t get the data easily and view it in digestible ways, you won’t be able to share it with the executive team or translate those KPIs into actionable insights.  

Having a trusted resource can also be of help– it doesn’t all have to be self-service. Whatever solution you have, make sure you have a service contact you can count on to help you get the most value out of the reporting tool. This can help extend the reach of your HR team – big or small.

Making metrics and data analytics a part of your day-to-day can be intimidating. By starting small, picking some key areas of focus and making sure you have the right tools and partners in place, you can add real value across the organization.


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