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HR – Think and act like a marketer: Segment your data to fuel evidence-based workforce decisions

Companies spend a great deal of time, money, and resources to understand, target, recruit and retain customers. They approach these tasks with rigour and rely on data and analytics as the key input to decision-making. It’s time we took the same approach with the company’s most important asset – the employees.

We know that no one in finance, sales or marketing would make a decision or propose a solution to a business issue without data to support it and the same should certainly hold true in HR. HR needs to think and act more like its colleagues across the business who are solidly at the table, contributing to business conversations, and driving business improvements through evidence-based or data-driven decisions.

To get there, HR and Talent Leaders need to start leveraging workforce analytics the same way that marketing makes use of customer analytics. Today there are workforce analytics solutions available that quickly and affordably make connections across data sources and deliver insight that was previously unachievable. Workforce analytics solutions can take away the grunt work of gathering and manipulating data in excel and leave team members with the higher value tasks of segmenting, analyzing, and interpreting the data.

With a workforce analytics solution in place, HR teams can take a page from the marketing playbook and start looking at employee data through a strategic lens. Segmentation is key! And…within a workforce analytics solution, segmentation is fast and easy. When the data is connected, a simple click or two of the buttons allows for rapid filtering and slicing and dicing of the workforce into different groups with shared characteristics. This can take the form of segmenting via any variable available – demographics such as age, gender, generation, lifestage or attributes such as tenure, department, region, role, training received, recruitment channel, etc.

Here is an example of the types of variables that can be filtered at the click of a button. In this visual we can look at Retirement Eligibility by Department, Year and Job Title. Very quickly and at-a-glance we can see that in January 2015, 25% of the Team Leaders/Supervisors in IT will be eligible to retire. Now that’s a very specific fact worth discussing.

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Through segmentation you can develop a more granular understanding of the workforce, identifying groups or areas where attention might be warranted. By using the power of segmentation you can move from simple and accurate views of must-haves like headcount and turnover to more complex insights generated from connecting multiple data sources. Because with a workforce analytics solution you can achieve connections across both HR and business data, you can start segmenting with precision in outcome areas that matter to the business.

Here is another high-impact example. Look at the Turnover Dashboard below. Instead of reporting on a company-wide turnover rate of 12%, you can start to dissect it. For example, you can look at Turnover by Geography, Performance, Department, Reason for Leaving, and Cost of Turnover by Reason. With this information you have the ability to focus your attention and your action where it matters. Note too, that this dashboard could just as easily have shown Turnover by generation, Age, Manager, Tenure, Learning, Year over Year, or any other variable you capture.

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By segmenting the data you move from broad and generic numbers (e.g. overall turnover of 12%) to specific and detailed information that can be acted upon (e.g. high turnover among Top Performers in IT).

Of course it’s easy to get carried away and lost in all the data as you start segmenting. There is so much to discover and it’s important to allow yourself time to explore… but be sure to start small and stay grounded in your objectives. Objectives are the key to making workforce analytics purposeful and must be the foundation for any foray into the data. For more information on the power of setting objectives and staying focused, download the eBook: Putting Workforce Analytics to Work: Achieving Objectives and Realizing Outcomes.

By leveraging workforce analytics and its power of segmentation, HR can step confidently into a position of influence. Armed with insight that is data-driven, you’ll be speaking a language that has currency at the table and you’ll quickly gain credibility and influence.

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PeopleInsight

Workforce Analytics at PeopleInsight
John Pensom is CEO of PeopleInsight with 20 years’ experience in the "people" business and gained deep knowledge in how technology, information and analytics drives business and culture change. PeopleInsight is a Canadian company delivering cloud-based workforce and business analytics; it connects and unlocks traditionally disparate HR, talent, engagement, business results and external market data to deliver rich insight through analytics in clear, visually appealing and actionable ways. Read more
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