9 min read

From Data to Decisions: What Is People Analytics?

Human resources (HR) departments play a crucial role in shaping a company's success by managing its most valuable asset — its workforce. But traditional HR practices often rely on gut feelings, intuitions, and subjective observations, which can result in bias and poor decision-making. People analytics, also known as HR analytics, offers a data-driven approach to understanding and optimising the workforce's performance, productivity, and engagement.

What Is People Analytics?

The people analytics definition is essentially the process of collecting, analysing, and interpreting workforce data to gain insights into HR practices' effectiveness and improve decision-making. What does people analytics involve? It involves using various data sources, such as employee surveys, performance metrics, turnover rates, and other HR-related data, to measure and analyse different HR aspects. 

HR professionals can leverage this data to identify patterns, trends, and relationships that are otherwise invisible, enabling them to make informed decisions that positively impact the workforce and the organisation's bottom line.

While the terms "analytics," "reports," and "business intelligence" are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. Analytics involves the systematic analysis of data to uncover meaningful patterns and insights, whereas reports refer to structured presentations of data in a summarised format. On the other hand, business intelligence encompasses a broader scope, including the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data to support strategic decision-making.

So, what is people analytics? The people analytics definition goes beyond general analytics, reports, and business intelligence by focusing specifically on the analysis of HR-related data and the extraction of insights pertaining to the workforce. Unlike generic analytics, people analytics centres around human-centric data, such as employee demographics, performance metrics, and engagement surveys. It delves deep into the behavioural aspects of work, uncovering correlations and patterns that provide valuable insights into talent management, employee engagement, and workforce planning. 

With people analytics, you can gain a more holistic understanding of your workforce and make data-driven decisions tailored to HR needs.

What Does People Analytics Involve?

Data Collection

What does people analytics involve? People analytics involves the seamless collection of relevant HR-related data from a multitude of sources, including HR systems, employee surveys, performance evaluations, and other pertinent data repositories.

Other data sources include employee benefits, employee turnover rates, and workforce demographics. The goal is to collect as much data as possible from various sources for a more comprehensive and accurate view of the workforce.  

Data Cleansing

The data collected from various sources often contain errors, inconsistencies, and missing data that can lead to flawed insights and ill-informed decisions if not addressed. Once the data is collected, people analytics software will clean, validate, and transform it into a format suitable for analysis. This process can also include consolidating data from multiple sources, standardising data formats, and filling in missing data. 

Data Analysis

In this step, data is analysed using statistical methods, machine learning algorithms, and data visualisation tools. This enables HR professionals to identify patterns, trends, and relationships that are critical to understanding the organisation's workforce and answer important HR-related questions, such as:

  • What factors contribute to employee turnover?
  • What skills and attributes are required for high-performing teams?
  • What training and development programs are most effective in improving employee performance and productivity?

Through this analysis, HR professionals can identify potential issues and opportunities, allowing them to take proactive measures to address them. They can also explore different scenarios and test hypotheses to make more informed decisions about the workforce.

Data Visualisation

Data visualisation tools are crucial in this process, allowing HR professionals to communicate insights to stakeholders effectively. These tools can take many forms, from simple charts and graphs to complex dashboards that display a wide range of data. 

HR professionals can use visualisation tools to identify patterns and trends in the data, spot anomalies, and explore correlations between different variables. They can also use them to compare data across various departments, locations, or time periods, tell compelling stories, and generate persuasive reports. 

Effective data visualisation can be an essential factor in the success of people analytics initiatives because it makes data digestible — enabling stakeholders to grasp complex concepts and insights quickly and easily.

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Four Key People Analytics Trends

1. Revolutionising the Role and Function of HR

People analytics is reshaping the HR function from being primarily administrative and operational to becoming a strategic partner in driving business outcomes. By leveraging advanced analytics tools and techniques, HR teams can extract valuable insights from data, enabling them to make data-driven decisions that align with organisational goals. This transformation empowers HR professionals to shift their focus from transactional tasks to strategic initiatives, such as talent acquisition, retention, and development.

2. Transforming HR Business Interactions

People analytics provides HR teams with the ability to deliver data-backed insights to business leaders, fostering more meaningful and impactful conversations. HR professionals can then effectively communicate the impact of HR initiatives on key business metrics, such as revenue, productivity, and profitability. This transformation strengthens the partnership between HR and other business functions, positioning HR as a valuable contributor to overall business strategy and success.

3. Elevating the HR-Employee Connection

People analytics is also driving a transformation in the HR-employee relationship. By analysing employee data, organisations can gain deeper insights into employee sentiments, preferences, and needs. This data-driven approach enables HR teams to personalise employee experiences, tailor development programs, and create a more inclusive and engaging work environment. The result is a stronger bond between HR and employees, as HR professionals can better understand and meet the individual needs of employees, leading to higher levels of engagement and satisfaction.

4. Enhancing the Quality of People Analytics

With the advancements in AI and machine learning, HR teams can unlock more sophisticated and accurate insights from complex data sets. Predictive analytics models can forecast future workforce trends, identify potential attrition risks, and even recommend personalised learning and development opportunities for employees. These enhanced insights enable HR professionals to be more proactive and strategic in their decision-making, optimising talent management strategies and improving overall organisational performance.

Embracing these four trends empowers HR teams to become strategic partners in driving organisational success, creating a more data-driven, agile, and employee-centric HR function.

Choosing the Right People Analytics Tool: 3 Key Metrics

When selecting the right people analytics tool for your organisation, it's essential to consider three key metrics to make an informed decision. These metrics will enable you to evaluate the effectiveness, usability, and compatibility of the tools with your HR objectives.

1. Data Integration Capabilities

Ensure the tool can seamlessly integrate with your existing HR systems, such as your HRIS, performance management software, and learning management system. The ability to aggregate data from various sources is vital to obtain a comprehensive view of your workforce and maximise the insights derived from the analytics tool. Look for a tool that offers flexible and efficient data integration capabilities to support your data-driven decision-making processes.

2. Analytical Capabilities

Evaluate the tool’s capabilities in data analysis, statistical modelling, and predictive analytics. Consider the range of analytics techniques and algorithms it offers, as well as its ability to generate actionable insights. Robust analytics capabilities enable you to uncover patterns, trends, and correlations within your HR data, facilitating strategic workforce planning, talent management, and employee engagement initiatives. Look for a tool that aligns with your specific analytical requirements and provides advanced analytics features to address your organisation's unique challenges.

3. User-Friendliness and Accessibility

Consider the user interface, ease of use, and the availability of user-friendly dashboards and visualisation features. The tool should empower you to navigate and extract meaningful insights from the data effortlessly. Accessibility is equally important. Ensure the tool is accessible across devices and provides secure data access to authorised users. Look for a tool that prioritises user experience and provides intuitive interfaces to maximise adoption and utilisation across your HR teams.

One Comprehensive Solution for Data Integration

One Model offers a comprehensive people analytics platform that integrates data from multiple sources, making it easier for HR professionals to gain insights into their workforce. The highly customisable platform allows organisations to tailor their HR data needs to their specific requirements. 

One Model's platform can also save organisations significant amounts of money. For example, Paychex, a leading provider of HR outsourcing solutions, used One Model's platform to expand its people analytics capabilities, resulting in an 800% savings over the cost of an internal build. 

Why Is People Analytics Important?

Why should you invest in people analytics? Why is people analytics important? At the core, HR analytics means driving better, faster talent decisions at all levels of the organisation.

You need to invest resources in HR data to drive and accelerate this mission. The value of people analytics should be judged by the quality of talent decisions that are being made across the organisation and the ROI of those decisions on the business.

With the right people analytics tool, users can quantify and measure the ROI of people analytics on an organisation, including cost savings, employee retention, new hires, and more. Below are several core benefits of people analytics:

  • Improved HR Practices: People analytics tools enable HR professionals to make informed decisions based on data rather than subjective observations or intuition. HR analytics means more effective HR practices that are aligned with the organisation's goals and objectives.
  • Better Workforce Management: By analysing workforce data, HR professionals can identify skills gaps, training needs, and performance issues, allowing them to take corrective actions to improve workforce management.
  • Increased Employee Engagement: HR analytics can help identify factors contributing to employee engagement, such as job satisfaction, work-life balance, and career growth opportunities. By addressing these factors, organisations can improve employee engagement and reduce turnover.
  • Higher Return on Investment: By optimising HR practices and improving workforce management, HR analytics can help organisations achieve a higher return on investment (ROI) and improve their bottom line.

The Role of AI in HR

According to Bersin’s research, a mere 2% of HR organisations actively utilise people analytics. This presents a significant advantage for innovative businesses looking to tap into this field and leverage its potential.

People analytics profoundly impacts how HR functions by transforming recruitment, performance measurement, compensation planning, growth mapping, learning, and retention management. 

In fact, studies by Deloitte indicate that people analytics is rapidly becoming the new currency of HR, providing benefits such as increasing job offer acceptance rates, reducing HR help tickets, and optimising compensation. As the new currency, people analytics brings a wealth of benefits to HR professionals, enabling them to enhance key aspects of their work. 

HR analytics is evolving from a one-time initiative to becoming a real-time, easily adaptable tactic that offers immense benefits for HR as processes scale with business needs.

HR analytics means HR teams can make data-driven decisions that result in more successful recruitment outcomes, streamlined HR processes, and better alignment of compensation practices with employee performance and market trends. This shift towards people analytics as the new currency signifies its increasing importance and its pivotal role in shaping the future of HR practices.

At the core of people analytics is artificial intelligence (AI). AI allows HR professionals to analyse vast amounts of data quickly and accurately. AI-powered HR analytics can even inform candidate screening, performance evaluation, and workforce planning, freeing HR professionals' time to focus on higher-value activities. AI can also provide predictive insights, allowing them to anticipate workforce trends and take proactive measures to address them.

How People Analytics Has Evolved

People analytics has evolved significantly over the past few years, thanks to advances in technology and data science.

Although managing humans may be the most complex aspect of work, other humans have been the primary means of interpreting and managing them thus far. But this is gradually changing, with computers beginning to provide more nuanced and targeted support for managing humans. People analytics is now becoming an expected way to enhance HR teams' decision-making, with more and more teams relying on this function daily.

Initially, HR analytics primarily focused on HR reporting and compliance, such as tracking headcount, turnover, and diversity metrics. But as technology and data science advanced, it’s now more sophisticated, enabling HR professionals to gain deeper insights into the workforce's performance, productivity, and engagement. As a result, organisations that embrace HR analytics are gaining a competitive edge by making data-driven decisions that positively impact their bottom line.

As more HR leaders become aware of the advantages of people analytics and these teams learn to integrate it into their function, they will recognise its benefits and embrace it as an essential part of their work.

The Stages of People Analytics Maturity

To truly understand the question, “What is people analytics?” you also need to know that people analytics is a journey, and organisations can be at different stages of maturity. The spectrum of people analytics maturity consists of four stages:

  • Descriptive Analytics: Organisations at this stage use basic HR metrics to describe what has happened in the past, such as headcount, turnover, and time to fill vacancies.
  • Diagnostic Analytics: At this stage, organisations use data to diagnose the reasons behind HR-related issues, such as high turnover or low productivity. Diagnostic analytics involves identifying patterns and relationships in data to understand the root causes of problems.
  • Predictive Analytics: Organisations at this stage use data and AI to predict future HR trends and outcomes, such as workforce demand and supply, turnover, and performance. Predictive analytics enables organisations to take proactive measures to address potential issues before they occur.
  • Prescriptive Analytics: Organisations at this stage use data and AI to prescribe specific actions to improve HR outcomes. Prescriptive analytics involves recommending specific HR interventions to achieve specific goals and objectives, such as training and development programs or employee engagement initiatives.

Leveraging the Latest People Analytics Solutions

The latest people analytics solutions enable organisations to delve deeper into the behavioural aspects of work, better understand the cause-effect relationship between various human and non-human aspects at work, and make data-driven decisions. 

There are three key points to make the most of a people analytics solution:

  1. Identify and quantify the relevant data to be analysed.
  2. Stay updated on the latest industry trends. 
  3. Create clear end goals when implementing these solutions. 

Additionally, HR professionals must continually update and upskill their knowledge and capabilities to ensure that the organisation can optimise the latest people analytics offers and effectively leverage the latest trends for a more productive and satisfied workforce.

Why One Model Beats The Competition

One Model stands out as the best-in-class people analytics solution on the market. With its comprehensive platform, organisations gain access to a robust suite of tools and features designed to streamline data collection, analysis, and visualisation. The customisable nature of One Model empowers HR teams to tailor their analytics needs to fit their unique requirements, enabling them to extract actionable insights that drive strategic decision-making.

Unlock the full potential of your HR analytics capabilities with One Model. Book a demo today to discover how One Model can revolutionise your people analytics journey, helping you uncover valuable workforce insights and propel your organisation towards greater success.

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