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How to get started in strategic workforce analytics

Published by Concentra

strategic workforce analytics

Strategic workforce analytics – three ways to improve its value for the business

The history of workforce analytics – often known as HR analytics, people analytics, or talent analytics – is littered with tools and ‘best practices’ that over-promised and under-delivered. Despite the growing popularity, there is still confusion about what workforce analytics actually means and what it entails.

In the research report we developed with CRF and IBM, we dissected this issue. Below are three key takeaways from the report that will help you realise the potential value that workforce analytics has to offer your business.

  1. Avoid analysing data for its own sake

“Ultimately, HR analytics is in danger of hanging in a bubble unless you attach it to specific business outcomes. The question you should ask is: ‘Why should we care? For example, if I can reduce attrition from 5% to 4%, what value will that add to the business, and is it worth it?’”- Chris Barkataki, Principal Consultant and Workforce Intelligence Lead, KPMG.

Often, organisations’ starting point for analytics is: ‘What data do we have and what can we do with it?’ This approach might extract some interesting insights to share with the business, but a better approach is to start with a clear end goal.

Before diving into the data, make sure you have a clear list of the critical business issues you want to solve, then identify the key priorities where any analytics intervention is likely to have greatest payoff. These might include how to improve performance or productivity, reduce costs or build the organisation’s capacity to innovate.

  1. Insights are valuable only if they lead to action

“Just finding relationships is not nearly enough; you need to figure out what to do with the results you find – and this may be the hardest part of all.” – Josh Bersin, Principal, Bersin by Deloitte

Analytics is only as valuable as the actions that it prompts. Establishing a correlation between two factors is not enough on its own. There needs to be a clear ‘so what?’ in terms of practical recommendations and an agreed implementation plan.

Just learning something ‘interesting’ about people and processes doesn’t justify the investment of time, energy and analytic resources that is required for such a project. Finding something actionable that can drive better business results is a far more valuable objective.

Our research highlighted some practical ways of ensuring that recommendations are followed through with actions. One of them is by getting the business buy-in.

  1. Get the business buy-in

“If you can get HR business partners, who interact with the business daily, to be both analytically minded and able to see how analytics can help them deliver their role more effectively, then that’s when you start to make significant progress.” – David Green, People Analytics Leader, IBM 

It’s critical to engage the key stakeholders who will make or break the success of the analytics initiative. You need to present the results in a compelling way if you are to get their buy-in to drive through change.

Influence and strong relationships with the business leadership team will build momentum, bring insights to the attention of the board, provide air cover when needed, and open doors for the team to get resources and data from outside HR.

Most organisations that have been successful in deploying workforce analytics is having a CHRO who ‘gets it’. A good CHRO can act as a sponsor, playing a critical role in championing the work and making sure it is followed through to implementation.

Do you want more expert insights and recommendations to build a successful workforce analytics capability in your business? You can download the full report for free here