Focusing on analytics


In the last of our series of blogs looking at the concept of business management in the people function we’ll be focusing on analytics.  If you missed our previous blogs we looked at the overall principle, including finance. We’ve also looked at strategy & planning, projects, risk and supplier management. This blog won’t be looking at why you should generate insight and data. Let’s face it, there has already been enough written on the why. Instead we will focus on the how. By that we mean what are your options for generating analytics.

Analytics is a broad term, so what do we mean by it?

We see analytics as any insight around your people and/or your people functions performance. By that we mean:

  • Traditional reports such as headcount, labour turnover, sickness absence, length of service etc.
  • Value added insight such as links between talent, performance and pay for example.
  • Ad hoc information i.e. Covid-19 absence data.
  • Historical data (i.e. past information and previous trends) and predictive data (i.e. making some assumptions about the future such as projecting possible leavers)
  • Functional performance i.e. time to hire, cost to hire, service level agreements, people to employee ratio etc.
  • External insight i.e. benchmarking.

Analytics can be standard reports, presentation packs or dashboards. These can be paper based or via self service options. Often the people team still provide the insight, although technology does allow managers the option of accessing their teams data.

So, how do we best deliver this insight?

There are two core components you need. Firstly, technology, which we will come back to a bit later on. Secondly you need people. So, in terms of people it really depends on the size of your organisation and how much budget you have. At InFocus we have seen dedicated people analytics teams created, through to a single resource managing insight as part of their role. The best option for you will depend on your organisational need but there are a number of things to consider:

  • Good analytics resources are hard to find, the demand for these skills has grown significantly over the years and the job market hasn’t necessarily kept up.
  • As a result of this demand, these resources can also be expensive, especially if you are creating a team. According to Indeed the average UK salary for a People Analytics Manager is now £63k pa.
  • More organisations are creating single analytics teams for all areas. There are benefits to this approach in terms of shared resource and creating great insight. However, people data can be sensitive so clear rules around GDPR and data access are required.
  • How much technology is in place to automate and deliver the standard reports and insight. Freeing up your analytics people to focus on more complex data which means higher skills are required.
  • Quality of your data. The more ‘crunching & cleaning’ that’s required the more resource you’ll need to provide even basic insight.
  • The amount of data and you’ll be surprised at how much data you have. However, more data = more work, unless you have the technology in place.

One final consideration is actually how much insight and data are you going to provide? We heard a great quote from a UK HR Director which we think is an accurate description of people analytics at the moment:

“Managing HR data is like trying to drink from a fire hose”

Data overload

The challenge is that people teams now have access to so much information. Trying to distill that down to what’s actually relevant and meaningful for your organisation is becoming a skill.

Okay, so back to technology

Theres no doubt that having good technology helps. Firstly, it should mean your data is more accessible. Secondly you will probably have access to different data, although see quote above! It should also mean that you have more options for presenting data to your organisation i.e. using self-service for standard insight. However some things to consider:

  • Your organisations approach to people technology i.e. one single system or multiple platforms. The more systems you have the more complex the data and potentially more work behind the scenes to manage, including additional technology.
  • People systems can provide access to literally hundreds of different reports. That’s great but you need to determine what’s actually going to add value to your managers or people team.
  • The insight you get is only as good as the quality of the data that goes into the system.
  • Predictive reporting (and systems providers will push hard on this in their sales pitch) is getting better. However, at the end of the day we are still dealing with people who make decisions that even the best predictive analytics can’t determine.
  • Data is often held outside your core systems, i.e. by 3rd party providers. So agreeing that data in advance and then understanding how that data is accessed in a secure and timely way is critical.

Could we outsource?

In short, yes. Organisations may choose to outsource people analytics for a number of reasons. For example a lack of good people technology i.e. having to use lots of manual solutions such as excel. It can also be due to the shortage of good analytics resource or even capability to undertake more complex requirements. We have certainly seen organisations partner with data companies for either full outsourcing or more often support for specific activity. The list of organisations now providing data support is growing, however at InFocus HR we have worked with two companies who we would certainly recommend.

If you need organisation wide insight to support senior level decision making then Simple Get Results would be our default partner. Through their leading edge technology they can take any organisational data (from any system, even excel) and use that to help identify root cause issues, essentially they can help with ‘what’s the business problem you are trying to solve’. They can also support scenario planning through providing future impact assessments based on testing different organisational decisions. For example, investing £X in reducing labour turn over will improve retention by Y%

However, if your need is more around additional external insight, specifically benchmarking we would recommend HR Datahub. The team have a growing database of organisations who provide frequent data on key people metrics. This allows you to understand how your organisation benchmarks to other similar organisations.

Further insight into Business Management

Hopefully you’ve found our blog series around Business Management of use? If you’d like to find out how InFocus HR can help you then click here for more information.

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