“How do I do people analytics?” Brilliant question. And one you’re wise to ask. Especially when seeking to supercharge your talent acquisition and HR functions in support of overall business objectives.

After all, people analytics have shifted from ‘nice to have, maybe when the economy is better’ to a ‘must-have’ system. This is largely due to increased awareness for data-driven decisions and their overall value. But here’s the kicker – simply having people analytics software isn’t enough.

The thing is, you need expertise beyond the flashy AI options out there to fully harness the power of people analytics. You see, newfangled AI tools might be bright and shiny. But the operative word is tool not takeover. So don’t be fooled by the hype because they don’t provide the complete solution in their own right.

“There’s also some cautionary news: Generative AI is not yet at a place where it can be 100 percent trusted to produce accurate, valid and reliable outputs”, explained Lin Grensing-Pophal in her SHRM article The Potential and Peril of Using Generative AI for People Analytics. “HR professionals still need to apply their own expertise, insights and critical analysis to this information,” she concluded.

Firstly, let’s remind ourselves why people analytics has become non-negotiable for HR teams in the 2020s. And then we’ll dive deeper into the original question, how do I do people analytics? bearing in mind it’s only a walk in the park when you know how.  

The Evolution of People Analytics

Why has people analytics become the ‘It list’ system no self-respecting HR professional wants to be seen without?

  • The Bad Old Days. Once upon a time, your business decisions might have relied heavily on gut feeling, intuition and clunky vanity numbers that took forever to crunch! As a result, recruitment, performance evaluations, pay increases and promotions were often subjective and prone to bias. Consequently, your business probably experienced some or all of the following issues:
    • Missed out on talent
    • Struggled with employee retention
    • Stuck in a quagmire of inefficiency
  • The Rise of Data-Driven Decision-Making. With the advent of technology, HR teams began collecting data on a massive scale. Why not, when data—in colossal volumes—is everywhere, from employee demographics to performance metrics? But what happens with all that data?Well, you likely use some of it for basic reporting. But it’s challenging to get beyond the basics and combine non-aligned data from multiple data sources, e.g. ATS, HCIM, HRIS, payroll, L&D system. And even moreso when some data segments are in different formats and in disparate systems! Yes, we’re talking about when you find yourself trying to align data input in your systems with manual spreadsheet entries.

The market cried out for something more visionary and powerful. People analytics software was born. And then evolved into much more than an effective reporting tool.

Why People Analytics Matters So Much in 2023

As we navigate the 2020s business landscape, there are many and varied factors shifting opinions of people analytics from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must-have’ system. And here’s why:

  • How do I do people analytics to win talent wars? Competition for top talent is fiercer than ever. As a result, you battle on a global scale, and not just within your industry. People analytics helps you identify, attract and retain the best talent.
  • How do I do people analytics to overcome Remote Work Challenges? The pandemic expedited an era of remote and hybrid working models. These working practices call for deeper understanding and strategic management of employee needs and behaviors. People analytics enables you to excel at understanding your people.
  • How do I do people analytics to address DEI? Workplace DEI is no longer optional for a thriving workplace that meets the expectations of various stakeholder groups. People analytics helps you pinpoint areas for improvement and track progress.
  • How do I do people analytics to save the business money? Businesses must operate as efficiently as possible in a competitive environment. People analytics helps you identify cost-saving opportunities by optimizing workforce utilization.

Sounds super high tech, right? It is. Yet technology alone isn’t enough. So, when you’re talking to potential providers, don’t hold back on asking them “How do I do people analytics?” After all, the last thing you want is to buy into a system you don’t know how to maximize. And while having the software is one thing, knowing how to use it—and use it well—is something else!

Why Software Isn’t Enough

Imagine you’ve just bought the latest and greatest version of your favorite brand’s phone. It’s loaded with all the coolest apps, has a best-yet camera, and rafts of fancy features. But does it guarantee you’ll shoot like Leibovitz and make the most of its multiple capabilities? Not necessarily.

The same principle applies to people analytics systems. So, you’re going to want put some serious thought into going down the people analytics route. For example:

  • Data Overload. People analytics systems generate an almost infinitesimal volume of data. It’s like treasure chest overflowing with raw gems. But they remain untapped potential without a skilled jeweller to polish them into something valuable.
  • Garbage In, Garbage Out. It’s paramount to feed accurate and relevant data into your system. If your data is flawed or outdated, the insights generated will follow suit. To avoid disappointment, lean on experts who can ensure data integrity.
  • Interpreting the Insights. People analytics generate insights, but don’t interpret them for you. To this end, human expertise shines in terms of understanding the nuances and implications of the data.
  • The Human Touch. Last but not least, there’s the human factor. Your people aren’t just data points. They’re complex individuals with unique aspirations and challenges. While a people analytics system can’t empathize or provide personalized solutions, it can forearm you to provide relevant empathy and customized paths exactly when and where they’re needed.


So, How Do I Do People Analytics in Real Terms?

To extract maximum benefit from people analytics, you need a perfect balance of human expertise and software capabilities. Combine these two vital ingredients and you’re best placed to:

  • Interpret your data in the context of your current HR processes
  • Identify areas needing improvements
  • Devise strategies to implement change effectively

In real terms, this means getting your hooks in to key areas such as –

  • Absenteeism, including sick leave, and any other paid or unpaid leave
  • Demographics
  • Duration of tenure
  • Employee movement up, down and sideways
  • KPIs, customer satisfaction ratings and sales results against targets
  • Pay, bonuses and other perks

 And when you can lift the lid on these pivotal factors, you’re empowered with a previously unimaginable 3D overview that helps you with –

  • Recruiting and hiring faster and smarter
  • Identifying, retaining, and developing your rockstars
  • Steering ROI by investing in the recruitment, onboarding and L&D programs that produce the best results

Moreover, in today’s compliance-driven data-scape it’s not just a matter of how do I do people analytics, but how do I do people analytics ethically?

As you can see, people analytics delves deep into employee data, which can raise ethical concerns. So, it’s critical to ensure data is used securely, responsibly, and ethically, to avoid unintentionally falling afoul of compliance.

*Bonus Expert Insight* Thought leader and WTW Managing Director John Bremen advises approaching AI with caution. He told Grensing-Pophal: “…many companies don’t want to do that because of security issues. It’s important to understand what will happen to your data if you feed it into these systems—will the AI have access to it for other uses?”

Fair comment in a climate where many businesses are seeking ways to leverage the time-saving and productivity-boosting benefits of AI, while remaining unclear about ownership, replication, and the potential implications.

Expertise + Software = Success

Ultimately, when you’re asking how do I do people analytics, it’s crucial to remember the software is just one piece of the puzzle.

You ideally need expert training, intrinsic understanding, plus the ongoing support of a leading provider to truly unlock the potential of people analytics. In short, you need the human touch to get the most from people analytics. And to advance from where your business is right now to where it aspires to be.

At HireRoad, you can rely on us to not just focus on the shiny software when you’re thinking about implementing people analytics in your organization. Instead, we demonstrate how we can help turn your system into a powerful tool for growth and transformation, on the premise that it’s not just about the software and the data it generates, it’s equally about the people behind it.

Is “How do I do people analytics?” a question that’s been bugging you? Get in touch today to arrange a free demo. We look forward to showing you around PeopleInsight by HireRoad and answering all your questions.