How HR Can Use People Analytics to Make Smarter Decisions

  • People analytics is all about using data to understand your teams’ motivations and work smarter.
  • It doesn’t have to be complicated — Vincent Chee, director at Bevel PR, uses employee surveys.
  • This is part of Insider’s virtual event “Transforming HR in the Digital Era” presented by Paycom.
  • Click here to watch a recording of the event. 

Businesses need to start thinking about people analytics the way they do employee analytics — because ensuring that the right people are in the right roles is the key to creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. 

“People analytics is looking at data and information in order to better understand your employees, largely, thinking about things like retention, productivity, innovation, culture building,” Dane Holmes, chair, CEO, and cofounder of HR software firm Eskalera, said during Insider’s recent virtual event, “Transforming HR in the Digital Era,” presented by Paycom, that took place on June 15.

The panel, titled “People Analytics Turns HR Data into Decisions,” was moderated by Shana Lebowitz Gaynor, strategy correspondent at Insider, and featured Holmes along with Vincent Chee, director of people and culture at Bevel PR.

Holmes believes that the role of the chief HR officer (CHRO) is going to evolve with data, similar to how chief marketing officer roles have evolved from anecdotal and conceptual to data-driven. 

At first, the people-analytics team will help HR understand the diagnostic score and core focus, Holmes explained. Then, they’ll move on to “the why” — which he said “is always the most important thing.” HR might know where to focus, but they must ask “why is it happening,” he added. “Then, it will ultimately evolve to what I would call test and learn.”

This phase should be about understanding what impacts certain changes can make. Addressing the root cause “then ultimately evolves into being able to project and predict what’s going to happen if I do X,” Holmes said.

“Like any sort of analytical process, it’ll move along that evolution of progression — from diagnosing, to then explaining why it’s happening, to then helping you understand how to respond — and ultimately being able to project expectations based on the data,” he said.

Depending on an organization’s development stage and business model, people analytics can provide a range of value. CHROs, therefore, need to consider different use cases depending on who they are and where they want to go. 

In small and growth-oriented firms, the data operation doesn’t have to be complex, Chee said. Bevel largely uses in-house surveys as a starting point for data collection before drilling down to obtain employees’ perspectives through “intimate conversations” and critically acting on the information. 

“Within small businesses, the real value is within retention and making sure that we set people up when they first start for success,” Chee said.