2 September 2019
How to do people analytics
Guest blog by Max Blumberg
Harnessing people analytics to optimise your workforce is always a great decision, after all, people are your organisation’s biggest asset, but it can often be confusing when it comes to knowing the exact steps you need to take along this journey.
In this blog, Dr Max Blumberg, consultant and founder of the people analytics think tank, the Blumberg Partnership, explores the fundamental questions you need to ask yourself to optimise your people analytics strategy to increase your chances of success.
Before you get started, you’ll need to answer the following questions...
1. What business problems are you currently facing?
As great as analytics is for boasting about your technological capabilities and forward-thinking mindset, the core of why it exists is to solve business problems.
When it comes to getting started with people analytics, you need to first ask yourself where the problem lies.
Identify the problems that exist within your team and the wider organisation, and rather than simply having a rough idea of these, take the time to write them down and clearly define them.
Here are some examples where you might want to start:
- Attracting and retaining top talent - Monitoring and increasing employee engagement - Promoting employee wellbeing - Understanding and reducing absence - Improving recruitment processes - Defining the value of learning and development - Increasing workforce diversity
2. What's your aim?
What are your aims as a department? How do these fall into your organisations’ overall business strategy?
It’s important to think about what you currently provide versus what the business is actually asking for.
Creating SMART objectives to clarify your aims will help to understand the course of action you’ll need to take to make them a reality.
It’s also important that you ask yourself what success will look like. Once you achieve your desired outcome, what will this look like for your team and the business as a whole?
3. What areas are a priority to improve?
Once you’ve clearly defined the problems you’re facing and you’ve established your goals, you’ll start to paint a clearer picture of what areas should be a priority to improve.
Is it upskilling your people to ensure they’re equipped with the latest competencies? Is it hiring new talent in a certain area of the business to increase the amount of resource? Or maybe it’s identifying areas of your business that need to be restructured in order to increase efficiency.
The key is to focus on one business problem at a time to avoid overcomplicating things. Often there are quick wins that will bring you a whole lot closer to achieving your aims that can be achieved within a relatively short space of time.
4. What will be required to implement your people analytics plan?
You know what you want to do, but what are you going to need to make this a reality?
Think about everything you need to achieve your aims:
What technology will you need to adopt?
Are you going to acquire the skills you need yourself, or do you need help from the experts?
What investment will you need to make?
On top of this, another question that is all too often neglected is asking yourself what data you already have present. The more relevant data you have, the better your insights will be so it’s important that you don’t take this lightly.
If the data is only partially present, how will you start collecting it? And how long will this take?
Data quality is also a biggie. It’s important to fix any missing or inaccurate data before embarking on a project to avoid getting invalid results.
Once you’ve established your results you’ll need to ask yourself…
5. How will you communicate your insights?
Understanding how you’ll communicate your insights is crucial if you want to make them count.
Adopting a visualisation tool can help bring your complicated data to life by transforming it into digestible visuals.
Once you’ve done this, ask yourself who you’ll present these findings to? Think of who will need to be on board for you to implement your new people analytics plan.
6. What action do you need to take based on your findings?
So you’ve found your insights, but what are you going to do about them?
Your answer to this question is perhaps the most important one, as what you decide will impact your organisation at a wider business level, right down to the individual level.
Whether your goal is to increase productivity or reduce absence, you should use your results to drive change. Simply emailing a dashboard over to the board is likely to fall flat. You need a programme of change to action your results.
This of course, will take some serious consideration, looking at the facts and also the wider implications, which brings us onto the next point…
7. What is the impact of the changes you need to make?
The different areas of your business are closely interconnected and changes in one area are guaranteed to have a domino effect.
This is why understanding how your workforce plan will impact the people, resources and structure of your organisation is non-negotiable.
Ask yourself questions like:
“What roles are critical and how do these play into my organisational structure?
“How will changes in employee numbers impact your operating expenses and teams?”
“What will an investment in training and development mean for the available resource in your business?”
Be sure to think these through carefully before committing to a decision.
8. How will I prepare my organisation for change?
The success of your people analytics plan is somewhat dependant on how it’s received by your people.
Transparency is everything, and educating people about the changes ahead in advance is likely to go down far more successfully than if kept a secret.
Encouraging people to embrace change rather than resist it starts by educating them about “the why”. Why go through the effort of changing things? What will be the long-term benefits of doing this?