Analytics is all about enhancement. It’s about taking what is known, turning it into what is unknown, and using those insights to drive improvement and innovation. Analytics is being applied to everything from accounting and finance to manufacturing and logistics with impressive results. That begs the question, what if analytics was applied to your most important asset – your employees?
This concept is known as people analytics, and it’s transforming human resources right now. The concept is quite simple – data is collected about employee behaviors like turnover rate, time to fill, or quality of hire. That data is then analyzed to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of a company’s recruiting efforts and the current workforce.
In practice, people analytics has a transformational effect on organizations. It takes one of the most important but opaque aspects of operations – staff – and evaluates them empirically and in-depth. The positive impact extends across departments and workflows, but here are three explicit examples:
Engineering Process Improvements
Any process can be improved, but how? One way is to look at various teams engaged in that process and determine which one is that most success at it. Using people analytics, decision-makers are able to track and then compare productivity, efficiency, or accuracy to discover which individuals or teams are best at it. Since the top teams have a demonstrable improvement over the others, they have something obvious to contribute to process improvements. Practicing people analytics eliminates the uncertainty of abandoning established practices for something new and untested.
Promoting a Positive Culture
Improving company culture is even harder than improving complex processes. Identifying the drivers of culture is difficult, and evolving them is akin to herding cats on a dark night. People analytics is a way to break free from assumptions, intuitions, and outdated ways of thinking. Data reveals how employees actually perform, interact, relate, communicate, and collaborate. For instance, consider tracking how much face-to-face time managers spend with their direct subordinates and what outcomes that leads to. People analytics reveals where culture comes from. More importantly, it reveals specific and actionable ways to improve it.
Executing a Strategic Initiative
Any new strategy involves a healthy degree of uncertainty. A big part of doing anything new and innovative is accepting unexpected outcomes. But just because the outcomes are unknown does not mean they are unmanageable. People analytics is an important component of any strategic initiative because it reveals how staff are adapting to new responsibilities and challenges. Tracking how many hours people work or how long projects take to complete reveals strengths or struggles that are not apparent otherwise. And by focusing on this data, companies are able to subtly adjust strategy organically rather than plow forward with a flawed approach.
Performance monitoring is nothing new. What differentiates people analytics is how broad and deep the analysis goes. Decision makers are able to track countless data points and generate multiple metrics across large or decentralized companies. And thanks to data-driven tools like AI and machine learning, working with data takes little time or expertise. People analytics is a tool that is valuable to all. More importantly, it’s now a tool that is accessible to all.