Originally published in InsideBIGDATA
People analytics has taken center stage as businesses seek to leverage their greatest asset – employees – to gain a better understanding of their organizations and unlock the full value of organizational intelligence in ways never previously possible. But people analytics is a big piece of the business data landscape and belongs in the boardroom. While human resource executives have long realized the impact that this information can have on employee engagement and hiring practices, people analytics has yet to make its way out of the HR department, in spite of the value it brings to the C-Suite. Mining valuable employee data gives executives a better understanding of their organizations and sets them up for success by allowing more informed decisions not just in HR, but across the entire enterprise.
The Mass of People Data
Data is everywhere today, and it comes from everything and everyone. The amount of data that can be gathered on employees is astounding. All organizations have the basic information about headcount, salary, benefits and workforce costs. More progressive businesses have information on employees’ physical activities, interactions with other staff members and collaboration habits. The most aligned enterprises have data gathered directly from employees through surveys and interviews. If collected, analyzed and shared properly, this data has the power to inform decisions and positively impact organizations. The problem is that this information still resides for the most part in HR departments and does not make its way to the wider group of decision-makers in an organization.
Making People Data Work
Aside from the fact that employees hold increasingly valuable intellectual property, each employee also knows something about the business better than anyone else. In addition, a 2013 study by Deloitte noted that businesses that placed an emphasis on human resource measurement and analytics had stock market returns that were 30 percent higher than the S&P 500 and leadership pipelines that were 2.5 times healthier. Furthermore, companies that build capabilities in people analytics outperform their peers in quality of hires, retention and leadership capabilities and they are generally higher ranked as employers.
The value of information from people analytics is dependent, however, on how the data is collected and shared. It is unlikely that executives both outside and within the HR departments are going to respond to a flood of spreadsheets full of quantitative data. These spreadsheets mostly lack the rich insights that business leaders seek and limits a leader’s ability to derive meaningful enterprise value, often resulting in the need for further analysis. Instead of trying to gather as much data as possible, organizations should pick specific focus areas and dive deep into them. In addition, they should identify platforms that allow them to consistently collect and connect this data and make it available across the enterprise.
Context Brings Real Enterprise Value
Organizations as a whole will do well to actively seek out the insights that only their workforces can provide. Real insights gained by actively engaging employees can help executives across the enterprise immediately see training gaps, shortfalls in communications, operations bottlenecks, predictions of financial performance and much more. By garnering the context of quantitative data and sharing this information across organizations, businesses can move from insight to action that creates real value and opportunity.