The Rise of People Analytics

After several years of industry buzz about the HR possibilities that lie within data analytics, little progress was made in implementation. Business Leaders seemed to like the concept, but weren’t ready to buy in. This year, however, is shaping up to be the year that we get beyond the discussion and into People Analytics.

People analyticsPeople Analytics is a growing area of Business Intelligence that uses a data-driven approach to solving problems and making decisions using people-related data. The concept isn’t new, but its popularity is.

According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report for 2016, the percentage of companies that believe they are ready or somewhat ready for analytics increased from less than 25% to almost a third. A full 77% of the companies surveyed acknowledged the importance of people analytics for decision making and strategic planning. Deloitte reports that, due to competitive pressures and the greater availability of systems, organizations are aggressively building analytics teams and developing solutions.

Most businesses have the need to determine where to find the best employees, why employees are attracted to their organization, why they stay or leave; who will likely find success or be promoted, or who will be the best leaders. People Analytics can help. As explained in an article last week in Computer Weekly, in terms of recruitment, analytics can help to improve process efficiencies and optimize costs by determining the best candidates and the best recruitment channels for specific roles.

People Analytics is not just confined to HR decisions, however, as companies are using people-related data to provide guidance for many types of business decisions. Banks are using people analytics as a tool to analyze behaviors that can lead to fraud, noncompliance or unethical behavior. Healthcare organizations are using it to drive clinical and operational improvements.

People-related data should not be thought of as HR data. In fact, people related data can come from across the organization as well as outside of the organization. Deloitte’s 2016 report mentions a pharmaceutical company that is collecting data from social media sources to predict who the “high-flight-risk” candidates are among their current employees.

The growing popularity of People Analytics is not all related to its capabilities. Some of it has to do with Cloud Computing. As more and more analytics providers are offering cloud based services, which minimize administrative, infrastructure and equipment costs, it is easier and more cost effective for businesses to adopt.

If your organization isn’t quite ready to hire an analytics staff or invest in data analytics software, you are not alone. That doesn’t mean you can’t start with some basics, however. The 2016 version of Excel comes with a built-in capability to collect data from a variety of sources, such as corporate databases and public websites, and transform this data into something valuable. Download the Power BI Desktop to go with it for more robust capabilities, and you will have more than enough analytics power to get started.

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Big Data is Coming to Human Resources

There’s no doubt about it. In 2016, if you want to ensure that your organization remains competitive and that top talent is not only acquired but also retained, your human resources department must begin thinking of how to leverage big data.

Big DataData analytics, sometimes referred to as Big Data, is the process of examining large data sets containing numerous data types in an attempt to uncover hidden patterns. The goal is to make human resources and talent management decisions based on data, not intuition or “gut instincts”, and is being driven by all of the new sources of data available coupled with the technological ability to crunch all of it..

The business function most commonly using data analytics is, not surprisingly, Sales and Customer Management. However, according to Deloitte’s 2014 research, 18.6% of the US companies engaged in big data practices use the data for human resources decisions.

According to Forbes, one of the critical needs areas businesses can use data to focus on is healthcare. With healthcare costs growing year after year, and our current data sources providing us with only descriptive information regarding how the benefits are being used, it is time to allow data analytics to move us from descriptive statistics on health care dollars already spent and to predictive analytics that can help us to manage costs.

Keep in mind that data analytics is not focused on analyzing the data you have in house, although it can certainly do that. Big data pulls available data from a variety of sources to look for hidden patterns or connections.

According to, big data provides HR professionals the opportunity to become more analytical and strategic in acquiring candidates. Adding big data solutions to the recruitment strategy can reduce the costs associated with bad hires. Instead of a repetitious review of resumes, big data offers a quick way to learn more about candidates through their numerous social media profiles, online resume databases, online employment records, and the like.

The bottom line? Big data can help HR professionals make more strategic decisions that can impact competitive advantage and the bottom line. Your next hire may just be a HR data analyst.

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