I once met a peer at a conference, who admitted that understanding people analytics changed her life. She told me that understanding analytics has not only made her the better professional but has also helped her in realizing that if we make knowledge and data the basis for taking important decisions in life, the chances are that we would always be ahead of the curve. Her words have stayed with me until today, and I frequently remind myself how people analytics can identify, diagnose and correct unsound practices and advance people on the professional journeys more efficiently.
Over the past decade, data analytics has revolutionized the way many companies do business. Functional teams like marketing, finance even operations have tracked patterns and preferences to predict and manage consumer/stakeholder behavior. HR too has started looking at using people analytics to deploy predictive talent management practices more efficiently. While tracking HR data helps organizations identify current challenges it does not always generate readily usable insights. In my experience, these are the seven most crucial lessons in people analytics:
1. People analytics is still a new and emerging science. Despite all the press and hype around people analytics, the vast majority of organizations are still stuck in departmental reporting. You can always be at the forefront of changing how we improve our connection to our employees. Get started now.
2. If you have enough data for payroll, you have enough data to start a people analytics initiative. We have to start with the data we have, so make the best of it. Working with your data gives you the opportunity to improve it over time. Those who procrastinate are getting left behind.
3. It is not quantitative data; it is not qualitative data, it is both. Most studies combine a mixture of quantitative and qualitative information to be able to tell the complete story.
4. Partner with internal stakeholders at the outset. Establish a partnership; it can help you get started and jumpstart your knowledge.
5. Start small to gain confidence and build credibility with your peers and those outside your department. Don’t try to “boil the ocean” at the beginning of this journey.
6. Make every investigation link to business outcomes. Analysis and modeling are valuable, but implementing the findings is critical. Investigate, experiment, learn, adjust and improve.
7. Don’t go at it alone – expert guidance, internal or external, does make a difference. It will help you bridge some of your initial knowledge gaps. You might find help in another department such as marketing or finance, or a student or professor at a local college. There are knowledgeable consultants whom can help.