People Analytics: Bringing HR and Data Together

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People and data

People analytics is transforming into a primary business discipline, and HR needs to move forward in working with data like this or risk being left behind. Organizations are leveraging data to improve the employee experience and to support continuous feedback and development. In regards to performance management, data continues to drive manager impact.

According to a report by Josh Bersin and his talent management research and advisory firm, two-thirds of companies are now actively building an analytics platform, but only 17 percent are at a point where data is easy to access and used routinely. This brings up the primary challenges of venturing into people analytics for many companies: a skill barrier, technology barrier and buy-in barrier.

A recent survey by the Harvard Business Review found that 47 percent of businesses believed they lacked the necessary talent to start using data more effectively, while 44 percent said they lacked investment in the proper systems and 39 percent said there was a lack of support from the C-suite. Organizations must first get beyond these obstacles before they can make the most out of their data.

Build or buy?

Start small. Just as organizations must start from within to determine when to make changes to their performance management processes, they must also start internally when making the move to harness data by identifying what data they want to analyze. When considering vendors to use for data analysis, organizations must evaluate how easily the vendor can capture the data they need from existing tools. Then, the organization will need to determine the capacity of the vendor to aggregate and display the data in a compelling format that can be used for business cases that will drive strategies.

Address the skills gap

The current trend is to centralize the collection, analysis and interpretation of people analytics in HR. This means a big shift in the role HR will play in the future and offers exciting new opportunities for analytics experts to come on board. Previously, this role was handled by a more technically minded individual, but the trend is now to add analytics as a key skill for all HR workers. Data literacy skills will be a must. While larger companies will have teams for people analytics, HR professionals should expect to be called upon for analytical skills as well.  

Get the C-suite on board

Decision-makers need to see the value of people analytics before committing to it. Many leaders simply do not have trust in data initiatives, so it’s up to HR to demonstrate value and also involve decision-makers in the process. Seeing is believing — and sometimes it’s worth having data visualized so the decision-makers know what they’re getting into.

HR should be careful not to bite off more than they can chew. It’s all too easy to over promise something, and data initiatives have a habit of being being propped up as an answer to everything. Avoid these pitfalls by identifying the most useful data to collect and the exact questions it can answer.

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