How To Gain Meaningful Insights From People Analytics

How To Gain Meaningful Insights From People Analytics

As John Scully has said, “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious”; People analytics helps organisations see those possibilities.


People analytics is all about gathering relevant people data and processing it in a smart way to produce meaningful insights that improve business performance. We live in a dynamic world that is undergoing rapid changes necessitating instant solutions. Therefore, collecting and processing data is no longer a periodic activity but a continuous one warranting real-time analytics.


There is voluminous data available in every organisation, big or small. This data is crucial for organisational sustainability, and when leveraged well, it can positively impact several critical functions and business decisions. Hence, irrespective of a company’s type of industry or size, collecting and maintaining a database is the first step towards growth. Furthermore, data will yield meaningful insights only if it is put to the right use. One can use modern and updated tools or technology, but people analytics is not just data crunching or preparing sophisticated reports and presentations. The most crucial aspect is understanding how that data is interpreted and how the results are being used to improve routine tasks and innovate for the future.


How HR Can Prepare Organisations for Using People Analytics


Organisational success is about getting the right people to do the right job. Robust processes and intelligent systems bring more value in this regard, as they are more accurate, reliable, and long-lasting. Strategic decisions founded on facts and figures rather than intuition and assumptions have a measurable business impact.


At the outset, HR should begin by getting the organisation ready to be data-driven and gradually creating a culture of seamless usage. HR is a data-rich function as it works with people, numbers, and a whole lot of information involving these. It is imperative to use such enormously available data intelligently to keep pace with developments and add maximum value to every function in the organisation. A few important areas of HR where relevant and real-time analytics play a major role in preparing organisations for smart decisions, providing a competitive edge and overall transformation are:


Recruitment: Some common metrics used in talent acquisition pertain to speed (time to fill, time to hire), quality (of hire, candidate experience), cost (per hire, to acquire talent) and productivity (ROI, source, withdrawal ratio etc.). Powerful recruitment analytics helps in smart hiring (looking at granular data with AI, ML to identify the best fit), optimising costs (choosing the channels with the highest ROI, hiring vs promoting), understanding the performance of the recruitment team (KPIs, diversity hiring) and preparing the organisation for future hiring (predictive analytics in understanding behaviours, market forces, skill gaps, forecasting needs, etc.).


Retention: Apart from focusing on hiring the best talent, retaining them is equally crucial. There’s lots of data available from surveys, exit interviews, feedbacks, and other forums. Intelligent analytics gives meaningful business insights – who is leaving (tenured or new hires, high performers, any specific function role or level); why are they leaving (work profile, compensation, culture, growth, manager, performance); what is the business impact (productivity, revenue, project delays, higher recruitment cost); where is the talent going (competition) and how can organisations take appropriate corrective measures (career advancement, L&D, inclusive policies, flexible compensation structure, incentives, R&R, etc.).


Employee Engagement: Organisations are always interested to know what makes employees happy, connected, and valued because engaged employees contribute significantly to overall productivity. Employee surveys typically assess all critical aspects of engagement. Yet, in the present context where the external environment is rapidly changing, and opinions are shifting at a faster pace due to the availability of multiple options in every aspect of work and workplace, “real-time data” is required to capture the “real-time mood” of employees. Advanced analytics and design thinking help organisations know what the employees care about and what they don’t so that initiatives can be planned in areas that create maximum business impact.


Compensation & Benefits: Market trends on compensation keep changing. Data, analytics, and tools help employers create attractive packages by going for the right budgeting, keeping themselves abreast on shifting market trends, calculating fair compensation that suits the business and considering other intangible aspects that make offers competitive. Many employees prefer a flexible and variable structure with a basket of allowances, and analytics help to tailor-make solutions that work for every category of employees.


Performance Management: Analytics helps in forward-looking and futuristic goal-setting. Many organisations are moving away from periodic performance reviews and towards continuous and instant feedback because real-time analytics provides an accurate performance level for each member at any given point in time. One can also find out employees’ motivation levels, what is enabling them to give their best or stopping them from doing so, the expectations of top performers, the reasons for non-performance, etc. Analysing such data helps design programs and solutions for specific categories of employees (for example, HiPos, consistent average performers, and those moving between ratings).


Employee Wellness: During the pandemic, analytics helped organisations manage changes in the workplace and take care of their employees, physically, mentally, and emotionally, in a much better way (e.g. tracking certain parameters, identifying vulnerable groups, observing behaviours to gauge emotions, and estimating medical support required) and to design wellness policies and adopt safety measures for future wellbeing. Some interesting observations (e.g. the timing of email responses, offday workloads, no. of sick leaves taken) provide information on overall wellbeing.


Learning and Development: Compared to the conventional route of TNI and need-based training, the trend seems to be continuous reskilling, upskilling, and alternate skilling to meet the ever-changing competency requirements. Predictive analytics helps organisations understand their future skill requirements, and HR can accordingly improve capabilities that provide competitive advantages. The idea is to develop talent with relevant skills that enable organisations to meet unforeseen challenges.


 A Shift from Descriptive to Predictive Analytics


Digital transformation, external environment and employee expectations are changing so fast that for organisations to keep pace with these, a shift in focus is required from backward-looking data to forward-looking solutions. Descriptive analytics provides details on what happened and why. Organisations can remain agile by using predictive analytics to know what will happen in the future and be ready with solutions. This change may not occur overnight, but when all functions in the organisation work in unison, maintain real-time data, understand the criticality of being data-driven, it will lead them in the right direction and be future-ready. As John Scully has said, “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious”; People analytics helps organisations see those possibilities.


Sushma Bhalkikar is currently heading the HR function for GMR Varalakshmi Foundation (GMRVF), a CSR arm of the GMR Group of companies. With more than two decades of multi-faceted experience, she has extensively worked in the areas of talent acquisition and management, compensation & benefits, L&D, policy formulation, etc.


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