People analytics is key, but HR is struggling to get started, says Cubiks
Big data and people analytics (also known as HR analytics and predictive analytics) are important topics that are relatively new to many working in talent management, according to Cubiks.
The company recently conducted a global survey looking into big data and people analytics and how these are applied by HR professionals. With vast amounts of people data now potentially available to employers, the Cubiks team wanted to take a closer look at these emerging issues and what they mean for employers around the world.
Asking questions based on the use of data today, the challenges to implementing people analytics and the future aspirations of data use in HR, the survey results highlighted a number of key issues.
Only a third of organisations currently apply people analytics, Cubiks found. The survey results suggest that there are several major obstacles to these employers rolling out an analytics-driven approach; most significantly limited data infrastructure and lack of expertise.
The company says that people analytics use has not yet matured in HR. Of those respondents who indicated they were already using people analytics, most had been doing so for less than three years. Only 2% of respondents rated their use of people analytics as ‘advanced’. The survey results appear to show that within businesses starting to use people analytics, there is a need either for development of in-house skills or for engagement of specialist support. Only 31% of these organisations currently use external experts to assist with their people analytics processes.
The survey results demonstrated that while many organisations are in an early stage of deploying people analytics, HR professionals definitely see its potential. 91% said they hope to apply people analytics in performance management within 3 years. Significant proportions also indicated that they are looking to apply people analytics to make better hiring choices, improve succession planning and enhance learning and development.
A clear concern was highlighted by the survey results, with respect to the image of analytics. There appears to be some tentativeness around deploying an algorithm-based or data-driven approach in a traditionally ‘human’ business function, Cubiks says. Over two thirds of respondents were either in agreement or unsure about whether applying algorithms might be perceived as ‘turning people into numbers’.
Jouko van Aggelen, Cubiks partner and head of people analytics said, “People Analytics will push HR to a new era in which they will be better positioned than ever to have fact-based discussions with a solid business impact. I fully understand the sensitivity and HR’s struggle with embracing data driven insight. However I’d like to challenge this perception, as people analytics enables HR to have a greater impact and (maybe even more importantly) to increase the ‘human factor’ in decision making processes.”
The Cubiks survey received 275 responses, predominantly from HR professionals or managers from large organisations working in a range of industries. Most significantly, these included; banking and finance, IT, business services, manufacturing and retail.