Organisations across industries are bracing for a challenging future of work, but amidst these disruptions, several opportunities for growth and innovation can lead to meaningful changes. As businesses embark on digital journeys, having the right data insights to drive your business and people strategy is vital to this change. As new technologies emerge, work models change, and employee expectations evolve, informed decision-making and policy implementation will be critical for HR leaders to build a resilient workforce. People analytics then becomes a powerful tool that leverages data to identify patterns, trends, and insights to devise solutions that address unique organisational concerns. This will inevitably enable businesses to grow, attract, engage, and retain top talent.
In this exclusive webcast with Akrivia HCM, People Matters brings together industry leaders to understand the different facts of people analytics and decode how to utilise them effectively to grow, attract, engage and retain talent. This article brings together the insightful takeaways that stemmed from the engaging discussion between Arun Paul, Head of Human Resources, Orion Innovation, Madhu Subramani, Senior General Manager HR & Admin, Bridgestone India and N S Sethumadhavan, Implementation Manager, Akrivia HCM.
The importance of people analytics in strategic decision-making
Every business has become a digital business to some extent over the past decade, explains Arun. Led by digital transformation, companies are now operating with a digital-first mindset. From an HR perspective, this has created a massive skill shortage in all industries, whether tech or non-tech. This change, coupled with a mindset shift to a more flexible work mode, the emergence of the gig economy, and increasing concerns about data security and privacy, has necessitated agile decision-making to get things right on the first attempt. The unforgiving business environment means there are no second chances, particularly for young enterprises and start-ups. That’s why organisations want to identify repeatable and pattern-recognisable trends that can help foolproof their decision-making to a higher degree. The latest wave in this phenomena has been the rise of AI-driven tools and chatbots, making this technology accessible to everyone.
HR’s role is instrumental in the business evolution and changes we witness today, also highlights Madhu. To live up to the expectations set and deliver results, HR needs to build strong business acumen so that HR professionals can wear different hats and support different functions by providing the right solutions. Next, building agility, project management, and leadership skills are essential for faster decision-making and improving the employee experience. By being aware of the different people analytics solutions, understanding how to analyse the amounts of data coming in from various sources, and simplifying the challenges we are solving, the HR function can play a pivotal role in helping organisations make the most of people analytics.
How to initiate and strengthen a data-driven work culture
Sethumadhvan says that the first step of this process is to define your aspirations and compare them with the organisation's current position. Understanding where the company is heading, what the leadership aspires to achieve, along with competitive and external factors, will help you ‘see’ your organisation in a new light and enable you to take the right action to realise organisational goals. Next, once you know the existing gaps, it is necessary to determine which processes can be automated and which cones can be simplified for better efficiency. Additionally, HR needs to garner support from different stakeholders to ensure smooth rollouts and sustained usage. All in all, implementing a people analytics-driven culture in the workplace isn’t as simple as buying a third-party solution or measuring one metric. It requires daily actions and progress to build a culture that leverages the power of data-driven decision-making.
While following this journey, Arun adds that companies can adopt these best practices:
- Hold meaningful dialogue with the company leadership: To ensure that the CXOs prioritise talent, understand people's objectives, have clarity on what to expect and can measure progress regularly.
- Design a suitable data setup: To facilitate accurate, reliable and efficient data collection through the right sources and points.
- Bring in real-time insights: HR needs to look beyond attrition, cost-to-hire and compensation analytics, as these are postmarked lagging indicators of what has already transpired.
- Focus adequately on culture: To sensitise, understand and appreciate the importance of data, HR needs to foster a culture of expertise and problem-solving internally.
Pitfalls to avoid before embarking on the people analytics journey
Sethumadhvan explains that companies that wish to utilise people analytics more effectively can benefit from keeping the following things in mind:
- Lack of pre-planning can be detrimental: Conduct an in-depth study to understand the current challenges and gaps and align that with the organisation's trajectory. Having a basic yet clear end goal in mind makes implementation and ROI evaluation supremely simpler.
- Do not disregard the importance of stakeholder planning: Most HR leaders focus on taking other business leaders on board, but working with different teams, like the IT and finance functions, will help build the type of people analytics experience you envision. This outreach and buy-in is best garnered before starting the process, as it can be challenging to remedy resistance during implementation.
- Not taking 100% ownership can prove fatal: Since no change is easy and there’s always a risk of rejection or criticism by the workforce, HR tends not to be fully invested in its own vision. Being an agent of change isn’t easy, and the fear of backlash is real, but in order to benefit from a new paradigm of strategic decision-making, HR needs to throw its weight behind innovation completely.
- Vendor evaluation must not be hurried: Instead of vendors and solution providers, look for partners that offer scalability and compatibility. Understand how your company’s tech ecosystem communicates with different functions and focus on building points of integration.
Getting started with people analytics: The final word
Madhu says that the most important thing to remember is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and you need to understand your business needs and expectations to choose the right tools. Having a customised, user-friendly and scalable system that fulfils your unique requirements is a non-negotiable first step to success. Sethumadhvan adds that segregating all identified people-related challenges into three categories or changes, namely, people or behaviour, processes and products, can help us understand how to solve them effectively. Arun sums up by saying that people analytics can support HR professionals in creatively solving workplace and business problems, but it needs to offer real-time, efficient and visualised data insights to lead to any meaningful change.