As the world of people analytics evolves and we become increasingly reliant on data to inform our organizations, it is critical to know the methodologies that are influencing our information. 

There are risks and opportunities that exist in people analytics. With not enough understanding, people analytics can become “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” just like anything else. Too often, the results speak for themselves. 

But that learning has also helped us build better alternatives. 

In this blog, WPA will share key aspects about how people analytics should be created; keeping in mind that the people involved is what is critical. Their contribution and action will make the difference.

1 People analytics should be Behavior-Based (usable data)

Of course, attitudes, feelings and opinions matter.  However, actions speak louder than words. Are we saying one thing but doing another? Are we aligning our time spent with value? What behaviors tie to those competencies we care about? Will they help drive success in the organization? “I have a best friend at work” might be a good question, but it is hardly actionable. 

Instead, tell leaders about how they can build more effective teams and spend their time and energy in a better way. By understanding how employees are getting the work done and combining it with the impact it has on employee sentiment, you will be able to see the full picture before building a solution. 

Because data is moving faster than policy can keep up with, it’s hard not to get sucked into the same tired methodologies that we have used for so long.  

We get it; some solutions have always been there and are easy to keep using. But we hope that you remember to validate opinions with behaviors, involve your people, focus on needs instead of wants, account for the culture and provide a holistic solution that will benefit today and tomorrow so that you and your teams can reach their highest aspirations. 

2 People analytics should be Crowd-Sourced (of the people) 

Vision sessions and focus groups are good, but they are often used in the wrong place. Leaders need to make strategic decisions with the right information, not to represent the “average employee”. If you are building a policy or solution based off the beliefs of the top 5% of the organization, don’t expect it to work for the other 95%!

Address change head on by involving the workforce; make them part of the solution, not part of the problem to gain greater buy-in. Your vision should be to present leaders with the DNA of your organization so that you can make deeper, and better-informed decisions. 

3 People analytics should focus on Needs, Not Wants (trade-offs)

Don’t mistake satisfaction with importance or priority! Wants are hard to fulfill (insert “faster horse” quote from Henry Ford here). Wants are temporary and influenced by the latest trend. 

What we want isn’t always good for us either. It can even hurt our performance as any parent or coach can confirm. You can’t be everything to everyone, so identify what your employees’ value most so you can build a brand that attracts and retains the talent that you want and need to succeed. Instead of chasing wants, let’s focus on what your workforce needs so you can align your resources to where it matters most. This will create your largest return on investment.

4 People analytics should be Predictive (scenario planning)

By the time you implement your project or plan, both the work and your workforce will have evolved, and you will be “old news” on day one. 

Are baby boomers retiring? Do you have more Tech workers than ever before? Are your future employees expecting different perks, environments and benefits than today? 

These are questions you will need to answer today if you are going to be successful tomorrow. Feel better about decisions that impact your future and create a roadmap by seeing your future workforce. Measure twice and cut once!

5 Culture Analysis (values-based) 

You might have a solid plan and see behaviors, but is your workforce aligned and ready to meet its changes? 

It has been said that culture eats strategy for breakfast, but no one seems to be measuring it. What gives? What is the current climate and where should we be going if we are going to achieve our highest aspirations, purpose and objectives? What do we believe and how do we reinforce those values and beliefs? 

Define where you are today, where you need to be tomorrow, and how to get there with a complete culture analysis. Make sure you can see this analysis by any group and demographic that is important to your success.

6 Networks & Mobility (holistic)

Without context, it is hard to distinguish the signal from the noise. Rather than mix and match your measurement solutions, look to one that measures the holistic employee experience. This needs to include a network analysis that also shows priority of those connections. Who does your team rely on? Where are they spending their time? Is this time important or not? 

Being holistic means that you can visualize and measure behavior, align your employee value proposition (EVP), define information paths and cut wasted resources all in one place. 

This goes far beyond the traditional survey or engagement approach giving you a full story of your organization at work, present and future.

7 Making People Analytics Useful and Actionable

P.S. There are actually a few more differentiators that will help you get more out of your analytics, and ultimately, out of the work that your workforce is producing:

Fast: Shorten cycles and business disruption. You should be able to understand your organizational landscape in under 30 days, on month. 

Easy: Consultancy firms have a solution that they need to convince you that you need. Analytics companies provide data with no follow-up action. 

Make sure you have an approach that closes the loop by combining data and valuable interventions to give you the best of both worlds so that you can focus on the decisions that matter.

Safe: On a scale of 1 to 5, how good is your leader? “It depends, is my leader going to see the results? Yes? Then a 5”. Junk in, junk out. 

Psychological safety is critical! Avoid traditional methodologies that put people in the hot seat, often with meaningless outputs. Focusing on how people complete their work.  Better in, better out!

Synergies: You have different functions represented in your organization. They rarely speak the same language or use the same metrics to measure success. 

Make sure your people analytics provide a common play book for everyone to use?  Provide your “band” with the same sheet of music to hear the symphony of your organization. 

Work & People Analytics 

At WPA, we know that people analytics must help an organization align its work and people to its objectives and purpose. Usability and action matters most and needs to align to the objectives of the business. If it doesn’t, question its usefulness.

As you use people analytics solutions, we encourage you to consider these key aspects that make people analytics usable and actionable. We also encourage you to take part in the dialogue and learning about people, place and work. 

Making work better in our communities is important to all of us.