Unleashing the Power of Systemic HR and People Analytics

Unleashing the Power of Systemic HR and People Analytics


Human resources (HR) work has typically been considered administrative since the turn of the 20th century. As large corporations became the norm over the years, HR professionals took on various roles related to finding and managing human capital, including recruiting, payroll, benefits, incentives, compliance, and career development.

However, the business landscape has now shifted, and with it, so has the nature of HR. Industry analyst and thought leader Josh Bersin has officially dubbed this the era of Systemic HR, a comprehensive framework that shifts the HR organization from a service delivery model to a product- and consulting-focused function.

To that end, people analytics is critical to the maturity of the Systemic HR model, as it gives way to rich data mining that can unearth significant insights into your workforce. Additionally, it allows you to identify challenges and design business-oriented systemic solutions that drive change and growth.

Exploring the shift to (and power of) Systemic HR and people analytics and subsequently making the appropriate changes to your HR department is essential to helping your business thrive in the modern business climate.

The Evolution of Human Resources

Much has changed in recent years regarding HR, from the emergence of new technologies to a pervasive and longstanding labor shortage to a move toward remote and hybrid work. That is to say nothing of the shifting demands brought on by the new generation regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), work/life balance, the employee experience, pay equity, professional mobility, and corporate social responsibility.

All of these factors have required a significant change in the nature of HR roles to the point that they can no longer be seen as purely administrative. Instead, they are now official business functions. Instead of simply putting out fires or attending to squeaky wheels one at a time, an integrated and systemic approach is necessary to promote change across the organization. The result is a more mature HR department that focuses on solving business problems with real-time data and analytics.

Systemic HR 101

Systemic HR integrates the HR organization with a focus on these six core elements:

  • Business-Centered HR and People Strategy
  • An Integrated HR Operating Model
  • An Integrated HR Operating Model
  • Dynamic HR Work
  • Flexible HR Organization Structure
  • Employee-First HR Technology

Together, these elements foster a holistic business environment, allowing HR teams to address the entire organization as one large ecosystem instead of trying to tackle individual issues as a siloed department. On top of that, the HR organization supports corporate strategy by acting as a consultant and presenting people-oriented solutions to pressing issues that can keep the company from reaching strategic goals.

Altogether, this approach feeds into increased employee engagement and development. As you gather data, you’ll understand what skills are needed to achieve the corporate mission and how to recruit and reskill to fill any gaps. Additionally, you’ll determine how to respond to the many factors that have already changed the HR landscape, as mentioned above.

Over time, you’ll be able to improve your employer brand in a way that attracts and retains candidates. You’ll also gain an understanding of how technology can enhance these efforts and help you build a comprehensive HR strategy that drives genuine business growth.

The Role of People Analytics in Systemic HR

At the center of the seismic shift toward Systemic HR is people analytics. The term does not merely reference the collection of HR data, though. Instead, it refers to turning robust HR data into meaningful business insights, which is crucial to Systemic HR. It allows organizations to identify where the real gaps are, develop clear strategies to address them, and show how those strategies are creating value throughout the organization.

Though that may sound daunting, many major corporations have already integrated people analytics into their HR strategies to much success, including the following:

Went from struggling to forecast talent needs to forecasting within 5% of actual hires, all while saving 15% of its recruitment budget

Saved $270 million by using people analytics to predict which employees were likely to leave and find strategies to retain them

Used analytics to figure out that lateral moves could help them retain employees and decrease attrition by nearly half, saving millions

Conducted frequent pulse surveys and used that data to strategize to increase employee engagement and performance

The issues these companies faced represent some of the most common challenges that many businesses face today. Other challenges include creating a better employee experience (especially when it comes to remote work and burnout), taking a skills-based approach to hiring, and reskilling and upskilling current employees to meet the demands of new technologies.

The good news is that people analytics can overcome all of these challenges. As major corporations have demonstrated time and again, employee surveys and actionable data insights on everything (from job performance to skills gaps to promotions and career development) can help teams implement Systemic HR and solve business problems with good decision-making.

Once you have the data and have mined it for actionable insights, you can measure its return on investment (ROI) by tying it back to business performance and strategy. But in order to do that, you must first identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that relate directly to business revenue.

From there, look at your people data points and figure out which ones you can connect to those KPIs. For example, an increase in employee productivity may lead to greater customer satisfaction, which in turn could lead to more repeat sales. It may be hard to recognize this trend when looking at your data sets in silos, but organizing and integrating data within your people analytics tool can shed light on these interdependencies.

Such an approach forms the core of Systemic HR, as it helps stakeholders see how investing in the HR organization will lead to big things for their business outcomes.

Best Practices for a Systemic HR Approach

Properly sustaining a Systemic HR approach requires an organizational culture that fully supports it. That starts with building a culture that supports systemic thinking and analytics. You’ll need full buy-in from company leadership, for which pointing out the ROI in your people analytics data can be very helpful. It’s also critical to be well-versed in data-driven decision-making, as successful Systemic HR depends on it. If you don’t have analytical expertise in-house, an external people analytics partner may be needed.

Additionally, you must cultivate viable strategies for effective communication and collaboration across departments. Remember, the Systemic HR approach removes departmental silos and looks at the ways in which the HR organization can consult and support the entire company in moving toward strategic goals. That requires clear, systematic communication and alignment.

Finally, because Systemic HR requires an agile company that can respond quickly to market changes, it helps to create an HR organization that believes in continuous improvement and learning. It’s essential that the entire HR team be open to new strategies as well as taking on new roles as they learn to adapt to changing times.

Changes in the Business Landscape Require a New Kind of HR Department

Systemic HR isn’t just a different way of performing the same old HR functions. It’s an entirely new framework for approaching the critical work of supporting a business in reaching its strategic goals by tapping into its most important resource: its employees and their skills. People analytics supports Systemic HR by providing access to data and holistic insights for better, more data-driven decision-making.

As technology continues to evolve and skills needs change, Systemic HR and people analytics will only become more important. Having these systems in place now will ensure businesses can keep up no matter what the future holds.

Further Reading and Resources

If you’re looking for additional reading related to Systemic HR and people analytics, check out the following resources:

For those who want to leverage people analytics to view and act on your comprehensive people data all in one place, PeopleInsight is the perfect place to start. Book a free demo with PeopleInsight to learn more about how we can help you turn disparate data from across your organization into actionable insights to drive business growth.