3 key steps for better decision making when using people data and analytics!

People data and analytics continues to be an evolving area for the people profession. With the availability and quantity of data both increasing there are many opportunities to use people data to generate meaningful insights about the workforce and its impact on business performance. Equally we can learn much about how work is impacting our people by exploring and generating data on employee engagement, employee wellbeing, and even workforce risk. So how do people professionals’ upskill themselves in the area of people data and analytics?

At the CIPD, we believe the future of the people profession is based on 3 key tenets; being principles-led, evidence-based and outcomes-driven. Let’s now consider the application of these ideas to the area of people data and analytics.

Firstly, it’s important when applying analytics to workforce issues that HR keeps front-of-mind that the data being processed relates to living, breathing people. It is for this very reason that we must use ethics and take a principles-led approach to the management of this information. Being principles-led means that HR develops and uses its strong moral compass and situational judgement to guide decision making when using people data and analytics.

Secondly, given that HR analytics includes workforce data it is critical that the HR analyst is evidence-based. The CEBMA state that evidence-based practice ‘… is about making decisions through the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of the best available evidence from multiple sources… …’. These sources of evidence include organisational data, practitioner’s professional expertise, evidence from the scientific literature, and stakeholder’s values and concerns. For HR analytics this means that we need to gather information from multiple sources and be able to apply critical thinking to assess the trustworthiness and relevance of the information we have gathered in order to enhance the quality of our decision making. As we start off we don’t necessarily need to be statistical wizards but we do need to have a basic understanding of statistical principles in order to judge the trustworthiness of the information in front of us.

Thirdly, to have an impact HR analytics must be outcomes-driven, focused on both the outcomes for business, in terms of performance and financial returns, and the ‘people outcomes’ that all individuals should gain from work, including knowledge, improvements in wellbeing, opportunities to develop, and social interaction. It is not always easy to hold the outcomes for multiple stakeholders in balance but we should be cognisant of the impact our decisions will have on different stakeholders and most importantly how these decisions will be received by these different groups of people. In the end this will help us to improve organisational decision-making resulting in better outcomes for all.

Analytics practice differs across geography, region and industry: there is no such thing as a one-size fits-all approach and this can be viewed as an opportunity for people professionals. By adopting the 3 key tenets - being principles-led, evidence-based and outcomes-driven - people professionals have an opportunity to craft an analytics approach and system that meets the unique needs of their organisation, and most importantly, the needs of their stakeholders. Getting the foundations in place first is key if HR analytics is to flourish and deliver value. The Valuing your Talent Interactive Framework on the CIPD Knowledge Hub is a great starting point from which people professionals can build their people data and analytics strategy.

To learn more about the CIPDs thinking on people data and analytics, evidence-based practice and the future of the people profession visit the Knowledge Hub on CIPD.ASIA, CIPD.AE, CIPD.IE, or CIPD.CO.UK and join our International Webinar Series.

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