HR Trend of the Week: People Analytics

Human Resources is not generally known to produce data that
is overwhelmingly quantifiable. The essential duties of the department are not
wholly based on numerical systems and decisions are not always data-driven. But,
as technology continues to alter the business world, the application of new
techniques and new thinking to talent management is becoming more mainstream. “People
Analytics” is the trending term where techniques originally used to mine
consumer and industry data may also let HR tackle employee retention and

Photo Source: People Matters

Human Resources data is not a new concept, but its pervasiveness
to all aspects of the profession certainly is. Advanced analytics provides a
unique opportunity for Human Resources professionals to position themselves as
fact-based strategic partners, using state-of-the-art techniques to recruit and
retain the great managers and great innovators who often drive superior value
in companies.

The more recent and effective iterations of these systems
start by collecting whatever data they can about the performance
characteristics of current employees — how long they have been on the job, how
many calls they process or sales they close. In the tests, the purpose of many
questions isn’t to see whether someone gives the “right” answer, but to see how
long it takes them to answer it, or how consistent it is with other answers
they have given.

The willingness to use data to drive decision making in an
area where analytical data is not the norm signals a new era in Human
Resources. Organizations can use people analytics to cut costs and increase
savings while simultaneously improving the engagement of its workforce. The
important advantage of new analytics techniques is that they are predictive,
rather than reactive, and they provide more objective information than the more
qualitative findings of typical one-on-one discussions with employees.

Another approach to people analytics starts from the premise
that happy workers are productive workers. Data-driven
initiatives are ways to turn managers into “people geeks,” who are obsessed
with quantifying the otherwise hazy concept of corporate culture. In a way,
people analytics is about offering credibility to one of the most crucial and
yet overlooked functions of a company—getting the most out of those who make it

While people analytics may be the future, some are concerned
that these systems are likely to produce companies with rather homogeneous
workforces. In work settings requiring teamwork and collaboration on tasks
involving creativity and judgment, there may be a danger in winding up with
employees who all have the same personality traits or the same strengths and

Overall, an HR-analytics approach is no substitute for
engaging directly with employees in an effort to understand their challenges
and needs. People Analytics, if done well, generates great organization-specific
insights for Human Resources executives to make more strategic decisions about
their people, and can be a great addition to any HR department.

Key Takeaways:

1. People Analytics utilizes techniques originally used to
quantify consumer data to quantify data about employees.

2. The data collected can help cut costs and simultaneously improve
employee engagement.

3. Experts are weary that People Analytics may produce
homogenous workforces if relied upon too much.

4. Find the balance between traditional HR approaches and
technologically-driven tactics.

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