Analytics has moved well beyond just the scope of technical teams within organizations as senior executives understand that data is critical to making better decisions at all levels. While number crunching was once the exclusive domain of the financial team in terms of running the business, data analytics has extended to other disciplines such as marketing. It is now common for every marketing dollar spent to be justified based on a return on investment. No more guessing and no more joking about not knowing which half of the marketing dollars are working and which are being wasted.
The same holds true for Human Resources, with people analytics becoming a force in the HR department. In successful and forward-thinking organizations, paying attention to people analytics is not just lip service – it provides real value to the organization. As people are generally the most important asset for an organization, it makes sense that talent management should be a strategic initiative and it is for successful organizations. This is especially true as we move beyond “The Great Recession” and the effort to attract and retain the best talent becomes increasingly difficult. Over time, if your organization does not have control of its workforce through talent acquisition, performance management, employee engagement and leadership and development, it is destined for less than stellar performance.
How do you get there? How does an organization move away from making “gut” decisions about its people and take the leap to embracing people analytics to improve its workforce and achieve the accompanying organizational improvements?
While it may seem daunting, by taking a basic 5-step plan of attack, organizations can make the move to adopting people analytics and becoming a data-driven organization. But first pick an area of focus – for example, talent acquisition, onboarding, performance and goal management, succession planning and learning and development. While the ultimate goal is for people analytics to permeate your entire organization and all people-related decisions, it is much easier to take smaller, incremental steps. In this way, you can realize some quick and impactful wins in a short amount of time, building momentum and gaining buy-in for future accomplishments.
The 5-step path to people analytics:
Whichever area of focus you’ve selected, you need to determine everyone involved in that function. For example, if you’re focusing on recruitment of new employees, you need to meet with recruiters, HR specialists, hiring managers and anyone else involved in the process. This includes job requisition, approval, posting, assessment, hiring and possibly onboarding of the new employee. Understand each of their challenges, frustrations, goals and opportunities.
With the stakeholders identified, you’ll need to work closely with them to map out mutually agreed upon goals and objectives. For talent acquisition, this might be reducing the time to hire, finding better-quality candidates or reducing recruitment costs. If you’re tackling performance a goal might be to improve retention rates, employee engagement or your organization’s ability to identify and develop the next generation of leaders.
From here you can prioritize what is most important so you can focus on attainable goals that will deliver beneficial changes. Determine quantifiable targets so that you can measure whether or not you meet the targets and how you are tracking against them. Adjustments can be made along the way as necessary.
Take a real, honest assessment of where you are today versus where you want to be. If you are losing too many candidates because your hiring process is too long, determine a realistic goal for improvement. If retention rates are poor, set a goal of how much you realistically expect them to improve.
This is the step where you ensure you have everything you need – people, processes and technology – to accomplish the goals you’ve set. Procedures need to be established for collecting and sharing data. The necessary technology needs to be available and usable for everyone with a need to use it. Specific reports and dashboards need to be defined and created if they do not already exist.
At this point in the process, you can highlight successes, areas requiring improvement and areas that are not working. Analytics will make the results visible. Has time to hire decreased? Are retention rates better? Is employee engagement up?
Within the area of focus, data will show where problem areas are. For example, time to hire could be acceptable except for one particular organizational unit or hiring manager. Overall retention might be good, but one team has a problem. From here, you can put corrective plans into action to make improvements.
With data underpinning them all, these 5 steps are the path to implementing people analytics within your organization. With a wealth of data at your fingertips, you’ll be in a position to answer a plethora of questions on virtually any area of your workforce and the talent that comprises your organization. And along with those answers, your organization will be positioned to move away from instincts to a new way of decision making – decisions based on hard data and people analytics.