By the time December rolls around, we may declare 2019 the year of people analytics. While the application of people analytics varies dramatically across organizations—some organizations are clearly leading the way while others have yet to determine where to begin—there’s one thing that HR leaders agree on: the rapidly-increasing influence of people analytics on their profession. According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey analysis, 85% of respondents rate people data as an “important” or “very important” human capital trend.
Given the vast amounts of data being amassed by companies, it’s of little surprise that HR is struggling with how best to get started. One way to build an effective people analytics program is to focus on a specific hiring or talent issue that needs to be solved and then assess the quality of available data to ensure you’re on the right track. Consider the more common challenges that HR is already solving through people analytics:
• Retention — Which top performers are thinking of leaving and how should organizations intervene if they hope to retain them? IBM made headlines when CEO Ginni Rometty announced the company was using AI to analyze data and predict with 95% accuracy which employees might be getting ready to quit, emphasizing that the ideal time to intervene is before notice is given.
• Collaboration — Forget the traditional org chart and its strict adherence to hierarchy. What does organizational network analysis (ONA) reveal about the relationships within the organization that result in innovation, and how can those connections be supported and even improved?
• Scheduling — How can supervisors use data to understand the “hidden” characteristics of employees who can always be counted on to show up for their scheduled shifts, as well as those who are most likely to pick up last-minute shifts? And, more importantly, how can companies use these insights to improve sales and customer service?
• Performance — What are the less obvious traits that the most effective managers have in common? How can those traits be translated into skills and abilities that an organization can cultivate through both hiring assessments and training programs?
Building Trust Among Skeptical Employees
While people analytics is advancing rapidly, keep in mind the benefit of proceeding with caution as you expand your use of data for human capital management, as any misstep can fuel employee concerns and possibly even backlash. Publicity surrounding consumer data breaches, large-scale cybersecurity attacks, and hiring algorithms that perpetuate bias has many employees on high alert. As Accenture notes in Decoding Organizational DNA: Trust, Data and Unlocking Value in the Digital Workplace, more than half of all employees say they would consider “leaving the company if leaders did not responsibly use new technologies and workplace data.”
Developing a people analytics policy that details the data to be collected, how it will be anonymized and the ways in which it will be assessed is essential to ensuring transparency and earning trust. It’s also important to offer employees a means for asking questions and providing feedback related to how your company is using their data.
While there will always be risks associated with people analytics, HR and talent acquisition can—and should—play a pivotal role in guiding companies through the shift to data-driven people practices and, in the process, demonstrate their ability to influence organizational strategy well beyond talent management.
Looking for additional tips and insights on people analytics? Download our free E-Book, Better Than a Crystal Ball: How People Analytics is Transforming the Practice—and Influence—of HR.