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If your job involves HR, chances are good you have heard the growing buzz about people analytics. It represents a growing trend that is changing the way HR is being delivered in many organizations, using data and technology to inform the decisions we make about how we manage people.

Now, we’re the first to admit that using data to make decisions about people might seem a bit impersonal (even the name “people analytics” doesn’t exactly make you feel all cozy inside). But most organizations will acknowledge that their greatest asset is their people. And if people are the key to business success, making data-driven, defensible decisions about how to manage them makes a lot of sense.  

Especially in larger organizations, leadership now has enormous amounts of information about their teams available at their fingertips. From applicant tracking systems to workflow software to communication tools, we have so much more information about our workforce than ever before. And when applied properly, all of that easy-to-access information can make us better leaders.

Enables better decisions

Traditionally, most leaders have relied on gut feelings or observations to make decisions about HR topics. Those feelings can be unreliable at best, and downright inaccurate at worst. People analytics allows leadership to rely less on gut feeling, and more on the hard data. This means defensible decisions and more predictable outcomes. In short, putting data behind our hunches presents a new opportunity to make smart choices about people management.

Reduces biases

Using people analytics can also help reduce biases. Whether we are aware of them or not, we all have them! And whether or not we know about them, our biases can lead to leadership blind spots. By making data-informed choices, we can reduce or eliminate the impacts of our personal biases.

Tests the impact of HR decisions

Is that new training program working? What happens if we switch up our total rewards system? Are we attracting candidates with the right skillsets? Those are all important questions that people analytics can help answer by allowing the impact of HR initiatives to be measured.

Whether it’s a policy change, a new training initiative, or a shift in compensation practices, knowing whether a decision is having the desired impact can be a guessing game. That’s where people analytics comes in, tracking how decisions “land” in real time and allowing for timely adjustments.

Helps identify skills and competencies

Most large organizations, and an increasing number of smaller companies as well, now use HRIS (human resources information systems) and ATS (applicant tracking system) software. If you’ve got one, huge amounts of data about your teams are available in these systems already. That information can be used to identify patterns, highlight gaps, and clearly show the skills and competencies that lead to employee success.

For example, if you cross reference performance data with employee skills and competencies, you can start to see patterns that can predict performance, turnover, and skills gaps, before you might otherwise have noticed! The information is already there in your systems, and smart companies are increasingly using it to their advantage.

Supports hiring with confidence

We all want to attract and hire that next rock star employee. Identifying top performers’ skillsets through people analytics can help make that happen by informing your recruitment strategy. Instead of making an educated guess at the competencies that will enable success in a role, people analytics can be used to identify success factors in your business, making for better-informed sourcing, screening, and interviewing processes.

The bottom line? Times are changing, and with more information available to us, we can do better than going with our gut! People analytics can supplement solid HR practices, helping inform important decisions, giving HR more strategic clout, supporting responsive people practices, and helping make good workplaces even better.

Your Engaged HR Assignment:

If you had a crystal ball, what HR outcome would you want to know? Chances are good there’s a way to measure it and make better informed decisions! This week, set aside a few minutes to identify one people management outcome you want to be able to predict more accurately, and commit to tracking the data you need.

Not sure how to start? Give us a call to discuss!

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