People Analytics: What is it and How Do You Get Started?

Blaise Radley
People Analytics: What is it and How Do You Get Started?

Nine months before an employee voluntarily leaves your company, you can predict their resignation. Not only that, but you can keep them from leaving by taking the right steps. How? By understanding each employee’s personal needs — revealed in their data. With 59% of the global workforce disengaged as of January 2020, people analytics is the best tool for addressing why. 

People analytics may have a formal title, but it’s actually a means of making data more personable. Also known as HR analytics and workforce analytics, people analytics is the process of collecting and analysing data on your workforce. It’s a vital part of shaping your day-to-day operations, and plays a key role in ensuring you do right by your team and the wider business. 

Here at Peakon, we’re a big proponent of people analytics. We built our “people-first” philosophy on our engagement with employees at a macro and micro level, and the valuable business benefits that employee engagement creates. If your goal is more engaged, more productive employees, then people analytics gives you the means to identify and address areas for improvement in real-time.

What is people analytics?

As we mentioned, people analytics is known by a few other monikers — you might also hear HR departments referring to HR data analytics and talent analytics. But, what are they? People analytics is the use of data to help nurture talent, and to inform strategic business decisions.

The benefits of people analytics in creating specific, internal HR statistics are manifold — in this Total Economic Impact™ Study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Peakon, Forrester Consulting estimated Peakon clients achieved a 244% return of investment.

HR analytics is far from a HR-specific concern, however. You can use survey data to improve people-centric processes at every stage of your company, covering recruitment, progression, performance reviews, and compensation. The insights gained from workforce analytics will impact your whole company, because your employees are your company. 

The best managers can sense when an employee may be thinking about leaving, even before they’ve handed in their resignation letter. People analytics makes spotting these tell-tale signs easier.

Peakon

Why should I make decisions based on survey data?

Basing your decisions on concrete data, as opposed to the more traditional methods of instinct and intuition, has several benefits. It removes the risk of unconscious bias, and provides a clear insight into people’s performance and needs. 

The use of hard data in the realm of soft skills allows you to quickly identify and address performance gaps, and improve company culture and employee wellbeing. More than anything, people analytics reduces the margin of human error: the Total Economic Impact™ Study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Peakon estimated that, after 3 years with Peakon, voluntary staff turnover was reduced by 10%.  

Advantages of people analytics

While the advantages of people analytics vary from company to company, there are five key benefits that apply across the board..

  1. Help shape culture 

As your company grows, your culture inevitably shifts. You need visibility on exactly how the culture is changing so that you can ensure this change is in the right direction. 

For example, if your goal is to increase employee diversity, first gather data about your current employees and the existing diversity levels. Understanding the present culture make-up is essential when looking ahead. 

  1. Improve performance 

There’s no one-size-fits-all motivator for your staff, which is why HR is important. With people analytics, you gain real-time insights concerning what motivates your team to perform consistently. Then, you can use those data insights to inform training, restructuring teams, and addressing individual concerns.

  1. Increase staff retention 

The best managers can sense when an employee may be thinking about leaving, even before they’ve handed in their resignation letter. Whether they know it or not, they’re identifying patterns in employee behaviours. People analytics makes spotting these tell-tale signs easier, ensuring you can step in, intervene, and avoid losing key talent.

  1. Lead to better recruitment 

You can use talent analytics to identify trends associated with successful hires, meaning you can create clearer, more actionable profiles when searching for future employees. By applying these insights to the recruitment process, you can create a diverse workforce that shares the same values. 

  1. Shape benefits and perks 

When employee benefits first gained mainstream traction, organisations placed a lot of emphasis on perks such as weekly yoga sessions and Beer Fridge Fridays, but those solutions don’t always lead to better engagement. 

Comprehending what your employees value — such as accessible office design, or offering remote working — and building from those values leads to far more comprehensive employee satisfaction. 

More than anything, people analytics reduces the margin of human error: the Total Economic Impact™ Study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Peakon estimated that, after 3 years with Peakon, voluntary staff turnover was reduced by 10%.  

Peakon

What type of survey data can you get? 

The survey data gained through people analytics encompasses a wide spectrum, and is  dependent on your goal. In all instances, however, the data you collect should be for the benefit of the employees, and should always remain confidential.

For the sake of ease, we’ve split the survey data into four overarching categories.

Employee performance

By tapping into effective feedback tools, you’re able to build a more holistic view of each individual employee’s performance. This can be used to provide regular feedback that is vital for building development plans and managing progression.

Employee wellbeing

Whether it’s private healthcare, a free gym membership or a company therapist, these insights offer a priceless snapshot of the most effective ways to look after your team, both physically and mentally. 

Employee productivity

People analytics comes in especially handy when evaluating productivity levels. It allows you to see what is and isn’t working well, and, more importantly, why that might be the case. From there, you can make data-backed judgements on any changes that may need to be made.

Employee engagement

We’ve previously spoken about how keeping the spark alive plays a huge part in keeping employees engaged. By using this data, you’ll know exactly how to do that, and what it takes to keep your employees motivated in the long run. 

Where to start with people analytics

The path to a more engaged, more productive workforce isn’t a straight line. HR analytics requires an active engagement on your half, and that all starts with the foundations. 

Ask the right questions: Having some idea of what you want to achieve with your findings will make the process much more streamlined and effective. Being too narrow with your line of questioning, however, can be counterproductive. Like all good things, balance is the key. 

Keep an open mind: The  idea driving people analytics is that you’re removing any preconceptions that you and senior management may have. Let the data do the talking, even if it throws up some surprising revelations. 

Act on your findings: Without this, all your hard work becomes obsolete. These insights are there to be used, so don’t be afraid to act on them, and don’t let old methods stop you from experimenting with your fresh data sets.

Move quickly: Not to be confused with rushing into things. Some of your results might require fast reactions, especially in instances where you find an area of particular concern — such as accusations surrounding abuses of power — that could quickly become a bigger issue.

Making people analytics work for you

By building a deeper understanding of your team that’s based on hard data as opposed to soft intuition, you’ll almost certainly boost your chances of success. Using people analytics to reevaluate how you approach every aspect of your organisation is essential.

Whether it’s in the office, or in your working-from-home policies, making your employees the priority naturally creates a more positive working environment. Improved productivity is important, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus. Instead, nurture the people behind the numbers.

If you want to know more about how Peakon can help with your people analytics, subscribe to our newsletter or reach out to one of our team.

Author - Blaise Radley