Is Your People Analytics Strategy Helping You Achieve HR Objectives?
By Brittany Head, PhD - March 04, 2019
Is data your most powerful weapon? Aligning analytics with HR objectives and strategies to solve problems is the ultimate goal of any comprehensive people analytics practice. But a number of barriers make this alignment difficult. Many companies currently operate in a middle ground, where the analytics strategy is loosely aligned to HR objectives; where some of the dots are being connected (e.g. a few supplemental reports are expected, but they are static or isolated), limiting data access and visibility for all stakeholders in the organization. In effect, keeping most influencers and end-users in the dark or on a need-to-know basis.
Bringing all your people data together into one place on one platform, forming a single source of truth, is where you really want and need to be—and if your company isn’t already there and doesn’t have a plan to get there, you’re going to be behind the curve in terms of HR capability very quickly. In some industries, you may already be behind the pack.
Best practice in any business is to make sure money is spent wisely. Anywhere an organization is spending resources, the effectiveness of the expenditure needs to be measured, to validate good money isn’t being thrown after bad. By stringing all analytics together and tying them to HR objectives, resources can be more effectively managed—and HR and leaders can get a fully fleshed-out perspective of the employee experience in the company. In addition, a people analytics strategy fully integrated with HR objectives boosts the influence of HR within the organization—by weaving the information stakeholders most need right at their fingertips, and by demonstrating ROI through HR’s protection of the bottom line.
This article will explore the three stages organizations go through on their way to developing a people analytics practice that is fully integrated with HR objectives and strategies. Identifying where your business currently stands on this continuum will help you determine what your next steps should be to reach the goal of full integration (Tweet this!), so the data you collect can be used by the people in your company for maximum benefit.
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Stage 1: Immature Integration Of People Analytics Strategy & HR Objectives
In many companies, there are a number of constituencies within HR—HR VPs, an organization effectiveness team, a learning and development team, an analytics team, and others—all of whom are on their own track and doing their own thing. Often there is some level of reporting between them, such as specific requests related to an initiative the team is working on, but for the most part these teams may be working on their own priorities. This can lead to limited understanding of what other teams are doing, and how the work or capabilities of each team relate to the department and the organization as a whole.
For example, if an organization has a goal of building leadership skills, the learning and development team may focus on management training. To track progress, the team might use SurveyMonkey to monitor the effectiveness of the training, or rely on anecdotal feedback from email queries. The informal data they gather is accessible only to the team leading the charge. There is no data collection governance; integrated analytics is an afterthought and the collection of data is haphazard and disjointed, because this portion (and likely many other portions) of the HR strategy is disjointed from the overall people analytics strategy.
This describes an immature system, where people analytics is not driving HR strategy, limiting the value and long-term sustainability and relevance of such initiatives. There may be some best practices in place, but the lack of integration means HR initiatives are less precisely aligned to talent needs, preventing the development of a unified HR perspective and enduring people strategy.
Stage 2: Developing Integration Of People Analytics Strategy & HR Objectives
Stage 2 indicates an evolving connection between people analytics and HR objectives. Rather than each team taking a piece of the feedback pie and working in a bubble, HR comes together for a global overview of survey data to determine the needs of the organization. This review ranges over all areas of the employees’ experience and connection to the organization—morale, diversity and inclusion, training, leadership, and more. The comprehensive analysis drills down into what is needed, who needs it, when it is needed, how the effectiveness of initiatives can be measured, and how the needs tie into other objectives.
In this phase of the developing people analytics practice, HR has recognized the importance of a more global approach—the various teams within HR are aware of the work being done by other teams, how it relates to their own work, how to work with other internal groups for stronger outcomes, and how it supports overall HR objectives.
By this time, analytics is working hard, and the teams are leveraging good data. But although it’s being kept up-to-date, the data itself remains disjointed. Refreshed demographic and other performance metric data still resides in a separate system from survey data, and there may be other silos of information housing data collected for other purposes (e.g. turnover, incident reports, or Organizational Network Analysis). Good data is available, but it takes a lot of work to uncover how the data housed in one repository relates to the data housed in another.
This stage is characterized by a unified approach to HR activities as well as carefully managed data—but the lack of integration limits what can be done with the data to support HR objectives.
Stage 3: Full Integration Of People Analytics Strategy & HR Objectives
In a fully mature system, the people analytics strategy is interwoven with all HR objectives. There is a shared understanding in HR of priorities, how the goals of each team in HR relate to the work other teams are doing, and how the activities deliver on the employee value proposition. There is tight governance of survey data and post-implementation measurement of training or other initiatives; data is kept up-to-date and carefully managed. There is measurement and analysis to assess the success of each initiative, and coordination with other business functions, creating a rich base of data for taking stock of the current status quo across the company.
HR no longer misses anything that might be trending in the data—if there is an opportunity to do something good for employees or the organization, HR is alert and takes swift, surgical action. HR also has the ability to track progress on long-term initiatives and make adjustments as needed along the way. This enables greater agility; with rich data to provide guidance, HR and the organization can be more innovative and open to taking calculated risks to invest in meaningful improvements.
In the fully-realized system, all the people data the organization collects is fed into the same system with an easy to use platform and is coded in meaningful ways, so it can be compared and interpreted. It is easy to see who needs or recently had training; departments or locations that have had or are likely to experience disruptions; which job families or departments have higher turnover or risk; and where the organization might need to support a timely intervention. Whatever questions HR or organizational leaders might have, the data holding the answers is located in one dynamic place.
In this fully-realized analytics platform, HR has all the power needed to pursue objectives in the organization in a way that truly adds value where it is needed most.
A Partner To Help You Put It All Together
In my experience as a senior consultant for Perceptyx, I’ve seen clients try to connect robust employee metrics data to survey data on their internal teams, separate from our platform, and it’s a heavy, time-delayed lift.
Those who take this approach face many challenges. Not only does technology change rapidly, exposing in-house technological solutions to lower levels of maintenance, attention to detail, and innovative updates than they would be responsible for with a vended solution, but also there is a massive amount of data to manage. I want clients to focus on USING the data and insights, not get bogged down in housing and maintaining it. In addition, there are technology and security vulnerabilities to address. As a result, building this system internally is a cumbersome and expensive process.
Overcoming the challenges involved in building a comprehensive internal people analytics system drove design of the Perceptyx platform. Our platform can be customized to address all our HR partners’ needs—whether it’s tracking the effectiveness of core initiatives, gathering information about inclusiveness, or monitoring the impact of organizational change. The Perceptyx platform was crafted for the purpose of seamlessly integrating analytics and people metrics with HR objectives, making it the most powerful tool available.