People Analytics: 5 steps

A few months ago I was speaking at a conference on people analytics. In the break I was talking to a group of participants, all from the same organisation. “What are you doing here with four people?” I asked. “We are the task force HR Analytics and we are here to see what we possibly can do with it.”

People analytics is not a luxury, but a necessity for HR. Sadly the “sense of urgency” is missing in many organisations.

People analytics does not have to be difficult.  The best is not to talk too much about it, but to get started. During my work at Crunchr in the previous year, I often used the attached picture when talking to HR teams on how to start with people analytics.

People Analytics 5 steps

1. Exploration

Often there is already a lot of data available. People data in the annual report. A recent employee survey. A labour market analysis. A report by an intern. Basic data in the payroll system. It can help to start to analyse these existing data. Can you detect patterns? Do you see relationships? Use the exploratory phase to formulate some hypotheses you want to test later.

2. What are the major issues in your organisation?

This is HR Lesson number 1: Try to get close to the important issues in your organisation. HR often works on very generic broad issues. Talent management, life-long learning, increasing internal entrepreneurship .To sharply formulate and understand the business issues helps HR tremendously to get a good focus, and to translate business issues into relevant HR issues.

3. What is the current situation?

Map the current situation for each of your priority areas. This is possible with existing data, but you may also need to collect new data. Do not rely on your gut feeling, but look for hard data. Is the turnover of talent in the commercial real high? Can you compare the figures with external data? Do you know well enough what new commercial employees are looking for, and what your organisation has to offer?

4. Create the most impactful interventions

This is the core of the HR profession. We have a challenge; how do we tackle it? Which HR intervention will lead to the best results? Again, focus is important: HR often wants to do too much in too short a time. Some interventions (e.g. introduction of a bonus system or setting up a traineeship) rarely lead to rapid improvement.

5. Experiment and measure

Do not immediately implement programs throughout the organisation. Experiment. Start with group A, and do nothing with group B. Measure if your intervention in group A yields the desired result. Often doing nothing is not so bad after all.

People analytics is a must for HR. It is required that the HR team has good methodological and statistical skills, and seeks collaboration with other groups in the organisation, to learn from them (Marketing, IT).

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