People analytics has played a key role in transforming how HR leaders make decisions. It is more than just an emerging HR trend today, it has become central to an organization’s broader people strategy.
A research study conducted by Corporate Research Forum found that 69 percent of organizations with 10,000 employees or more now have a people analytics team. These teams provide valuable insights from data collected by monitoring workforce engagements, interactions, and performance. Let’s look at a few trends that are transforming the very nature of work.
4 People Analytics Trends That Will Shape the Future of Work
Thought leaders, premier organizations, and HR influencers are constantly experimenting with advanced capabilities of people analytics software. To help you understand how these high-level applications of people analytics will impact future business dynamics, we have listed four people analytics trends that are shaping the future of work.
People Analytics Trend #1: Moving from Descriptive to Predictive Analytics
Most HR departments relying on people analytics use descriptive analytics to inform their HR decisions. Descriptive analytics relies on the data an organization already has and presents it in an easy-to-understand format. Descriptive people analytics lets HR leaders understand what has already happened. While it is useful, it doesn’t tell you what will happen next. And being able to predict future events based on data is a powerful advantage when it comes to dealing with and influencing employee behavior.
Enter predictive analytics. How awesome would it be if your recruitment team could determine if a potential candidate is a perfect fit for your organizational culture even before they’re hired? Or if you could estimate how long an employee stays with the company? Or even identify the risk of attrition for high performing employees?
Yes, the advent of predictive analytics has enabled employers to gain such valuable, and in some cases, sensitive insights of their employees. Predictive analysis is the process of analyzing historical and real-time data to predict future outcomes using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to provide insights. These insights are potent sources of data points that will influence the future of organizations going into the future.
People Analytics Trend #2: Cognitive Computing Empowers People Analytics
You might all be familiar with the spooky yet exciting applications of AI. Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S., an artificially intelligent virtual cognitive computer, is a source of inspiration for AI engineers around the world. But what does Mr. Stark’s fictional AI assistant have to do with people analytics?
This example is a fictional representation of the capabilities of cognitive computing led by people analytics. Cognitive computing is a powerful combination of data, analytics, machine learning, and infrastructure. Its applications in people analytics promise to reinvent the way HR organizations function.
Cognitive computing offers unbiased suggestions and complex insights empowering HR managers to make informed decisions. This technology will go beyond reports and analysis, having deeper dialogues with your employees. Imagine a digital assistant that can answer questions like “what skill should an X employee develop? How?”, “who would be the right fit for X project?”, and “how do people move across business units?”. Yep, spooky!
Cognitive computing demonstrates the abilities to understand contexts, form hypotheses and learn from digital footprints. Although a wonder of the future, this thought-provoking technology compels us to rethink our current HR processes.
IBM is already at the forefront of implementing this mechanism with IBM Watson – a supercomputer capable of answering questions posed in natural language. The company uses cognitive applications across the employee life cycle to provide solutions for employee problems at multiple stages. Anshul Sheopuri, former Director of the People Analytics, and now VP and CTO, IBM, quoted in an interview that “in the cognitive era, the role of the HR practitioner will evolve to one of a consultant who can nimbly leverage cognitive solutions and add value where the technology has ‘blind spots’.”
People Analytics Trend #3: Shifting Focus from Individuals to Organizational Network Analysis
Most people analytics models focus on individual employees. The problem statements for these models ordinarily revolve around – What are the characteristics of high performing employees? How to measure the individual employee experience? How can we boost productivity?
However, today’s market leaders are stepping up their game of people analytics by focusing on Organizational Network Analysis (ONA). Deloitte defines ONA as ‘a structured way to visualize how communications, information, and decisions flow through an organization.’
ONA enables HR and organizational leaders to analyze the flow of communications, information, and decisions within the company, to gain meaningful insights that will aid strategic decision making. The applications of this system are endless, providing prescriptive solutions to business challenges such as reducing time-to-productivity for new hires, characteristics of high-performing teams, stimulating innovation within the organization and identifying real subject matter experts.
In 2017, MIT Slogan Management Review published a case study on how GM used ONA to drive innovation and disrupt the organization from within. The automobile conglomerate leveraged their ONA capacities to identify patterns within employee connections. This activity was focused on classifying a group of employees that have the highest impact on innovation and product design to work together on projects. Coupled with similar initiatives, the program enabled GM to launch innovative products such as Maven and Book by Cadillac.
People Analytics Trend #4: Using People Analytics to Identify the Gaps within Organizational Processes
Enterprise companies with a massive workforce are determined to identify gaps in their current established structures to maintain equality and attain compliance standards. People analytics poses as a natural solution to this complex challenge. With a proper mix of descriptive analysis and ONA, companies will leverage the power of people analytics to look themselves in the mirror.
One such example of people analytics applications is presented by multinational FMCG conglomerate, Nestle. Nestle built a people analytics model to understand and measure the gender pay gap and equity within the organization. In a podcast interview with David Green, Jordan Pettman, Global Head of People Analytics at Nestle, shared how their people analytics team used a winning combination of data, statistics, and psychology to build a regression model that aids their leadership team to measure gender pay gap issues.
This is another key application of people analytics that will help organizations identify their structural shortcomings by looking back into history and work together for a better future.
People analytics has positioned HR functions as one of the primary influencers in business decision making. These people analytics trends will play an important role in shaping the future of organizations in the coming years.