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Part 1 of 5: Getting started with people analytics, 10 common questions

Peopleinsightimageapril16It’s not always easy getting started with something new. Sometimes it’s all good and we launch straight in, embracing change full-on. Other times we may know that a particular change is for the better, but we can be pretty comfortable with the way things are. When that happens we can be a little reluctant towards the change, even putting up barriers (intentional or unintentional) against it. There are also times when we’re ready for change but we have questions and we need answers before we tuck in.

For many in HR, getting serious about workforce analytics represents a change to the way things have been. To help navigate this change, we’ve put together answers to 10 of the most common concerns and questions we get asked by HR professionals as they are looking to get started with workforce analytics. In this blog, we’ll cover three of these concerns/questions. Stay tuned for our follow-on blogs that will cover the remaining seven.

#1 – I don’t have time to start another initiative right now

Time-crunched? The thought of adding something else to the mix, making you a bit nauseous? We get it. We’re all busy and, in HR, that’s an understatement. There are priority projects, the flash fires that need dousing, and the 25 other tasks you have to do – all with deadlines of yesterday. And who needs another item added to this? Well… actually, the answer to that question is… you! You need to add people analytics to the agenda.

Believe it or not, by carving out time to get going with analytics, you’ll be creating the conditions for having more time and more resources to devote to the entire realm of HR activities – including thinking and acting strategically. Once you’re up and running with people analytics you’ll realize immediate time savings as team members are no longer burdened with manipulating spreadsheets and preparing ad-hoc reports.

With data available and accessible in real-time, you’ll be able to make better decisions faster. And here’s a key thing to consider – it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or energy to get started. With a few hours of effort on your part (literally) some providers can have you up and running in days…yes, days. Ask around… it’s possible… and the payoff for a few hours of upfront attention will reap long-term rewards, guaranteed.

#2 – We don’t have the skills needed for robust HR & business analytics

You may not have data scientists or those with deep analytics skills on your team. That’s perfectly okay and most HR groups are in the same situation. This shouldn’t have any impact on getting started with people analytics. In fact, there are a number of ways you can address a skills gap in analytics.

  • Teaming up with a cloud-based analytics partner is an obvious approach. This provides access to subject matter experts in the business of HR, in workforce data, in metrics, and in analytics. The nice thing about this type of relationship is that you can get started while you build and develop in-house capabilities in analytics. A workforce analytics solution will deliver integrated workforce data as well as visualizations and dashboards that make digesting the information and insight easy. It provides you access to all the analytics you need, delivered in a way you can understand and act upon, without requiring you to become a data guru or algorithm aficionado.
  • Another good alternative if you’re looking for help in the realm of analytics is to seek assistance from other parts of the organization where there are experts in this area. See if you can borrow and learn from sales, marketing or finance as you get started with analytics. In other words, you don’t have to be the expert yourself, draw on those that can help, whether they are inside or outside the organization.

#3 – I don’t have the budget

Money is tight these days and making the case for a new initiative in HR might not be easy. However, if you’re carrying around the thought that getting started with workforce analytics is a big project requiring a big investment, think again.

Times have changed and truth be told, you can be up and running with a solution in just a few days and, depending on the size of your organization, the cost of this can be as little as a few hundred dollars a month. For many companies, the annual cost is less than one agency fee and much less than the salary of filling an analytics role internally.

Here are some ways you can justify the cost of an analytics solution:

  • At the most practical level, you can speak to time and productivity gains for your HR team. Add up the time spent mining and muscling around in spreadsheets, creating reports, and responding to ad hoc requests for information, you’ll be surprised at the number of days, hours, even weeks you’ll save.
  • At the level of business outcomes, there are a number of key areas where workforce analytics can prove its worth (and more) very quickly and with impact. Here are just a few examples:
    • Building a precision view of turnover and its associated costs can ensure that efforts are put in the right places to reduce turnover and increase retention
    • In areas of absenteeism/sick leave, deep understanding of what is happening and where within the different groups can lead to activities that curb unwanted trends
    • Connecting recruitment and first year outcomes data can reap quick rewards in identifying recruiting sources/investments that are working and those that are not.
  • Not to be overlooked is the ability of workforce analytics to elevate HR to a position of stronger influence in the organization. Workforce analytics can bring added credibility to your group and can help you speak the language that resonates with executives and other stakeholders in the business.

Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll cover more on our list of the 10 common concerns and questions. We’ll tackle one of the biggest questions which is “Can’t my HR systems do this already?” as well as one that has to do with IT, “What about IT…isn’t analytics their territory?”

Note: this is an excerpt from the eBook: Getting Started with People Analytics | 10 Common Concerns and How to Overcome Them.

Can’t wait for the next blog for answers to your questions? No problem, get ahead of the game and download the eBook here.

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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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