What Is People Analytics – And Why Is It Changing the HR Game?

“What is people analytics?” Brilliant question – and one business leaders are increasingly asking as they turn to data for direction. You see, we now know that the key to success doesn’t come down to simply amazing products or services. It goes deeper into the heart of the organization, to your greatest investment – your people. As Dr. Tyrone Smith (Udemy’s Director of People Analytics) says in this interview with Forbes “That is why, in this new era, many organizations are adopting people analytics as a business imperative to focus on delivering value to the business by looking for patterns at scale around talent in the workforce and linking it back to the business and people strategy.” This signals how people analytics has become more than the collection of reports you might be compiling across your teams. Quite the opposite! It’s a change-enabler for turning your raw data into actionable insights. And when you can do that, you’re empowered to use those insights to make better business decisions and drive growth.

So the question “What is people analytics?” should be geared less towards the what, and more towards the “so what?” In other words, think about “What is people analytics?” in terms of the difference it can make to your organization. 

“What is People Analytics?”

As you’re already aware, your employees are central to ongoing business success. It’s them who make your products, deliver your services, engage with your customers and solve your problems, after all. So, “What is people analytics?” as far as the broader business is concerned?

Well, right now is the time to debunk a common misconception. People analytics isn’t just a HR tool. It’s much more far reaching across the entire organization. This is because it guides you towards better informed, data-driven decisions. And these decisions impact your workforce and your bottom line.

Yes, of course being better equipped to maximize employee potential and business results is a gigantic advantage for the HR team. That goes without saying.

But the real transformation happens when insights are democratized organization-wide. So, bear in mind there’s a much bigger picture. It looks something like this… 

How Does the People Analytics Magic Happen?

Like many businesses, you might have exponential volumes of data scattered across various business sources. This disparate data includes but isn’t limited to key factors such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Job roles
  • Performance ratings
  • Tenure
  • Salaries

Now, you may be thinking “I can analyze most of this data from within my HCM platform or HRIS”, but to what extent? HCMs are primarily meant to manage processes such as payroll or performance management, and while they may include basic analytics capabilities, at their core, they provide operational reporting, aka: the ‘What’. Going back to the original question of “What is people analytics?”, the impact it makes is identifying the ‘So What’.

This is something you don’t get with transactional reports, which take massive amounts of time and effort to pull together. By comparison, people analytics enables you to:

  • Connect the dots between multiple data sets and how they work together
  • Unearth any problem areas and / or bottlenecks quickly
  • Understand why these problems are happening
  • Offer insights on how to fix them
  • Monitor progress against programs put into place
  • Demonstrate the success of those efforts in a way that leadership can clearly understand

And better still, people analytics is pretty much a no-brainer in practice with an analytics tool that follows three simple yet powerful steps.

Data, Analytics, Insights

The answer to the question “What is people analytics?” becomes clearer when considered in context of the process, not just the results. While it can fulfil many complex and nuanced tasks, the people analytics process can be broken down into three effortless stages:

  • Data – This is all the information your organization collects about your employees. People analytics extracts this data from the HR tools you use, such as your HRIS, HCM, ATS and payroll system. The beauty of this stage is how a premier people analytics systems becomes a unifying force. In short, it gathers your data from however many disparate sources you have into one coherent view.
  • Transformation – Once everything has been amassed, people analytics goes on to process, clean and organize your data. This is the stage where the magic really starts to happen, going far beyond static numbers. Comparatively, it joins the dots by establishing relationships between different data points. This means you can ask multi-dimensional questions to gain a deeper understanding of your workforce against your organization’s current position and future aspirations.
  • Insights – Wave “So Long” to drowning in raw numbers that don’t ultimately tell you much about anything! And “Hello” to bringing your data to life in clear and compelling ways. For this reason, insights are the icing on the cake, with user-friendly charts, graphs, questions, and moreover, answers. Couple strategic insights with simplified views, enabling quicker analysis. That’s hours of manual data manipulation saved!

By now, you’ll be getting a clear picture of “What is people analytics?” and what you can achieve with it. But, let’s wrap it up with some specific examples that might resonate.

What Can You Do with a Market Leading People Analytics System?

The possibilities are as endless as your data.

At the end of the day, people analytics software puts at your fingertips the insights you need for confident and qualified decision-making. You will be equipped to answer hard-hitting questions from your stakeholders, like:

  • Does the organization need to hire more people? Or is it a training / upskilling issue with your existing team members?
  • Which recruitment channels are coming up with the goods by job vacancy, department and location?
  • Which training courses are supporting and promoting the best KPIs and promotions?
  • Who deserves a promotion – and why?
  • Who might be at risk of quitting – and why?

Need any more guidance about “What is people analytics?”. Ultimately, it’s a catalyst. It enables you to capture your organization today and propel it into tomorrow, armed and prepared with all the information you need.

At HireRoad, we’re with Gartner’s Human Resources Glossary definition of “What is people analytics?” –

People analytics is the collection and application of talent data to improve critical talent and business outcomes. People analytics leaders enable HR leaders to develop data-driven insights to inform talent decisions, improve workforce processes and promote positive employee experience.

Are you looking for the right people analytics leader to partner your organization? The search stops right here. Book a free demo of our HR Insights system and see how you can be shaping a data-driven culture that fuels success in just 10 days.