The global workplace has shifted in an unprecedented way over the past few years. HRForecast explored three priorities of the people analytics leaders. The research goal was to bring together experts to give idea-focused insights on people analytics.
The research sought expert insights in people analytics, on three key topics that have been widely discussed and analyzed in the past year:
- The great resignation
- Trends in people analytics
- Data culture
Let’s look at some key findings on these topics and expert insights on how they have shaped HR in terms of priorities and upcoming challenges.
Introduction of the participants
The great resignation
What has changed after the pandemic and what should HR leaders expect this year?
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that came out in January 2022 shows that 4.5 million people voluntarily left their positions in November 2021 — an “all-time high” according to the BLS. The mass exit of employees in 2021 and 2022 is not just part of the natural labor trend especially because the economy was over-heated with the pandemic restrictions and lay-offs and yet millions of people across the world, decided to quit their jobs in order to maintain a more stable work-life balance.
Research published by Harvard Business Review has shown that employers could minimize employee turnover through many different methods, such as by giving workers a sense of purpose, letting them work in self-directed teams, and providing better benefits. However, while these fixes will work out eventually, it’s important to analyze the trends and incorporate them into your plans beforehand. These trends include:
1) Flexible work environments
2) Create a sense of belonging for employees
3) Design a path for employees’ personal development
4) Encourage managers to mentor their team rather than rule them
What do you think companies should do differently to overcome employee turnover?
“The traditional approach to turnover is very reactive. Monitoring and analyzing turnover takes place only after we notice it trending higher than an internal or external benchmark.,” explains Tanu Dixit – Director, PX Data Science, Pfizer.
She further continues “In today’s complex and competitive business environment, alongside fast-paced growth in technology, companies need a more innovative and proactive approach to turnover to try to retain talent before people actually leave the company.
For this reason, people analytics teams should attempt to leverage an objective, innovative, and proactive statistical approach to the concern of voluntary turnover in their companies. The output of this statistical model could serve two objectives:
- Identify future turnover hot spots across the company ahead of time
- Highlight key drivers of voluntary turnover to help better plan interventions based on quantitative insights alongside subjective judgment to reduce this churn in the future”
While The Great Resignation might sound ominous, it also holds great potential. When businesses create a work environment where employees are engaged, they can be more innovative, productive, and collaborative.
Trends in people analytics
People analytics has become central to the HR strategy.
A study by Corporate Research Forum found that 69% of organizations with 10,000 employees or more hire a people analytics team. Let’s look at expert insights on a few trends transforming the very nature of work.
The use of people analytics in decision-making
Tanu Dixit, Director, PX Data Science, Pfizer says:
“HR in recent years has seen a change of guard, wherein folks from outside the function from other walks of life, both in terms of educational qualifications and professional experience, are joining HR. It has opened up fresh and different perspectives on many things HR, from tools to processes.
It has also opened up an innovative mindset, changing with the times, that sees value in objective decision-making using data and analytics.
Now is a very exciting time to be working in people analytics.”
The connection between people analytics and AI
People analytics has undergone a drastic transformation from administrative functionality to more advanced processes like automation through artificial intelligence, which has entirely redefined and reshaped the attributes of the workforce. AI is now integral for HR to support smart people analytics.
Organizations can enhance proficiency and productivity by deploying AI and analytics in HR functions such as talent acquisition, training and development, employee retention, employee engagement, and performance appraisal.
According to a McKinsey report covering the state of AI in 2020, the use of AI has risen by 10 percent in the optimization of talent management and by seven percent in performance management.
Alanna Roesler, People Analytics Change Leader, Schneider Electric, adds:
“In the analytics space, automated analytics and AI are no longer creating meaningful insights for only analytics teams to see. The major shift toward data democratization is leaving the bottlenecks of information behind. But with great power comes great responsibility.
Now, HR professionals can access critical information in real and directly make decisions based on it. By uniting the value of AI and proper guidance on how to use it, the future of HR will be better equipped to navigate this ever-changing world.”
Traditional HR practices vs. people analytics
The World Economic Forum and Boston Consulting Group released a joint report concluding that by 2026, as many as 1 million occupations will have disappeared. Another report issued by McKinsey Global Institute indicates that while we can expect as many as half of today’s jobs to be replaced by automation by 2055, hundreds of millions of new jobs will be created.
Human resources roles will exist in the future, but they will look different than they do today. For example, HR will manage and use big data in nearly every people aspect like resistance to change, internal communication, and employee engagement in activities of organizations, right from the time of recruitment to training.
“I find it counterproductive to think that there is a dichotomy between the value of traditional HR activities and the advancement of people analytics.,” says Cheska Marie F. Samaco, Analytical Business Partner for People Analytics, SAP.
Cheska Marie F. Samaco, further adds:
“Traditional HR activities, at their core, will most likely never be obsolete. Regardless of how organizations may evolve, there will always be a need to hire, develop, and reward employees.
With that in mind, I would argue that the growing interest in people analytics actually furthers the conversation on the role of HR as a critical business partner. As organizations invest more in analytics, we ensure that people-related decisions are made with the complete picture in mind — knowledge (and intuition) coming from years of HR expertise supported by evidence collected using people analytics.”
“They are not becoming obsolete — they are becoming optimized, with HR professionals spending less time on low-value tasks and more time influencing strategic decision-making through analytics.,” says Alanna Roesler, People Analytics Change Leader, Schneider Electric.
Alanna Roesler, further explains:
“ Putting the focus on value allows us to rethink the way we approach our roles. Take, for instance, planning our talent strategy for the next few years. The entire employee lifecycle is no longer delayed by HR processes remaining manual or based on gut instinct alone. For HR organizations, having an open mind to shift to this approach will keep them leaders in their space. Through the partnership of HR professionals’ expertise acquired through experience and the value of data can keep them from falling behind organizations ready to take on the tech and data revolution that is upon us.
HR activities are not the only area that will change. The role of the analyst will also change over time. Technical skills may get us into the roles that we have, but more advanced problem-solving skills and the ability to influence at all levels of an organization will come to define our roles. We need to be bold and have the confidence to lead HR into these uncharted territories.”
Businesses today are focused on making a shift where they can underpin their decision-making with factual data rather than gut feelings. Older systems that no longer support new ways of working and that stand in the way of adopting new tools and techniques should be replaced.
However, many organizations are struggling, as they don’t have the right data culture.
What are the components that contribute to a data culture?
“For analytics teams, I like to think of ourselves as coaches in this step just as much as we are analysts, data scientists, etc.,” says Alanna Roesler, People Analytics Change Leader, Schneider Electric.
Alanna Roesler, further explains:
“First, I believe analytics teams many times take the approach that analytics alone will transform us to a data culture if they are delivering value. From my perspective, this is rarely enough for the cultural impact we are setting out for. I believe it requires a core partnership with three key stakeholders:
1) Analysts enthusiastic about cultural change
2) Change management experts providing tools and guidance on creating successful change
3) Leaders at all levels of the organization leading the way
Next is where the support comes in to make progress on this transformation. First, we have to understand what our current level of data literacy is across the organization. A baseline understanding of this allows us to start fostering a learning culture that welcomes those at all stages of their data literacy journey. For analytics teams, I like to think of ourselves as coaches in this step just as much as we are analysts, data scientists, etc. Our agendas rely on organizations adopting, understanding, and truly leveraging what we are spending 40+ hours a week developing. Coach your stakeholders on the data-driven decision-making journey. Coach them on how to build their confidence in this space and be more self-service-oriented when leveraging analytics solutions. We can no longer put a product out in the world and expect people to simply use it. Coaching through the process is key. This coaching can be scaled by leveraging collaborative workspaces such as Microsoft Teams and Slack to answer user questions, share best practices, and make yourself available where the masses can learn.
The second item supporting this transformation is to look internally at our own operating models and prioritization process within analytics teams. As the culture starts to shift, stakeholders start to get on board by asking more questions and looking for more solutions! To keep the momentum moving forward while delivering value, the prioritization process should be based on three main areas: 1) time saved to help remove manual tasks with little value add for the user base, 2) better decisions by supporting or enabling a strategic initiative, and 3) the financial impact this product can help drive across the business. This helps keep users focused and utilize analytics that will make a real impact. Executing through an agile framework with the end users in mind will again reinforce that the right products are being developed in the right way for the right reasons.”
While many businesses have moved from an operational to a more strategic and skills-based approach in workforce planning, by looking at the general level of people analytics maturity in organizations, we can say that the journey has just begun.
Contact us and our consultants will help you embark on your people analytics journey.