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People Analytics is here: HR’s secret weapon

12 May 2016 - Blog, Events

People Analytics is here: HR’s secret weapon

“The big opportunity for HR with analytics is to provide insights on some of the big challenges facing the business such as improving sales performance.* ”


A couple of weeks ago I attended the People Analytics 2016 conference. With analytics expertise now moving into HR at pace, employee surveys are no longer about just improving engagement scores.

Leading organisations are going further; integrating survey results with wider HR and business data, creating linkages to develop powerful insights and predictions.

People Analytics Conference 2016

People Analytics Conference 2016

So what might this look like?

At People Insight, we’ve been using people data with our clients to help them solve business problems. For instance,

For example, for a large retail client, we looked at venues with a high profit vs those with a low profit. Through statistical analysis, we were able to show which engagement drivers were stronger in high profit venues, giving the low profit venues key priority drivers to focus on:

  1. Manager capability & motivation to coach and give feedback
  2. Career development planning and discussion
People Insight's linkage analysis with client data

People Insight’s linkage analysis with client data


Why should we bother?

Previously, analytics was the domain of finance, of marketing, who showed the CEO how x% increase in advertising revenue would increase sales. Whilst HR was pretty adept at showing which HR programmes were adding value, they just weren’t typically part of the ‘increasing sales’ conversation.

What CEOs want ultimately though is information that helps them run the company better:

“Get me the right people into the job, make them productive and happy, and get them to help us attract more customers and drive more revenue. I don’t care if your L&D program has a 200% ROI or not.”

Analytics teams are now appearing throughout HR, analytics experts are coming from other domains into HR. Says Josh Bersin:

 “We will see huge opportunities to leverage the data we have about people to understand how to improve the work environment, better our culture, drive higher levels of performance. Our ability to understand the data about our people is becoming core to HR’s mission in 2016.”


So where do we start?

The keynote at People Analytics 2016 described eight steps in the analytics process:

Jonathan Ferrar's 8 steps in People Analytics

Jonathan Ferrar’s 8 steps in People Analytics


The speaker, Jonathan Ferrar, highlighted the first two steps and the last two are too often neglected at the expense of the actual data gathering and analyses.

Identifying the right business questions and working with the business to develop hypotheses as to what could be the root causes are key to defining and focusing work on what is actually important to the business. If there is no business impact, what is the point of expending effort?

*David Green, Co-Chair, People Analytics 2016.

See more on People Analytics here.


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