The power of people science
Paul Burrin, VP of Sage People
The volume of data being produced across the globe is increasing exponentially every day. It’s been calculated that the human race generated two quintillion, five hundred quadrillion – better known as 25 with 17 zeroes following it – bytes of data every day in the last year. Put that data onto BluRay discs and you’d need 10 million of them – which would be as tall as four Eiffel Towers if you stacked them. Every day.
And that figure is still accelerating. Nine tenths of all the data in the world was generated in the last three years. To say that we’re now living in the age of big data would be something of an understatement.
As a result, companies have a wealth of information about their customers at their fingertips – from their buying habits, to their style preferences and lifestyle choices. Companies know what type of products different consumers prefer, how they like to engage with their brand, and when they may be most likely to buy from them. And, as a result, their buying experience is constantly optimised, improved, and tailored to each consumer.
But what if you had the same level of insight and visibility concerning your employees? What if you knew where every high-potential employee could add most value? What about how your staff prefer to work? Or, who is likely to become a flight risk?
Imagine the impact on the company’s performance if an organisation tapped into this and knew their employees as well as their customers. Companies could revolutionise the way that they work and engage their people, designing great workforce experiences that enable their employees to do their best work – ultimately improving performance and productivity. All thanks to increased workforce visibility, achieved through better data reporting, analytics and actionable insights.
The answer lies in using people science in your organisation.
What do we mean by people science?
People science means applying data-driven approaches to improve workforce visibility – and how you both manage and engage your workforce. It’s about understanding people and their behavior in your company and generating more actionable insights to help you make better business decisions about your workforce.
People science is more than just people analytics. In practice, it means not just mining data and reporting it – but analysing it and gaining actionable insights to test hypotheses and identify solutions.
How to make the most of people science
With people science, organisations can use data to develop stronger and predictive insights about their people and motivations. These insights can then be used to make more informed evidence-based decisions. The data can then be used for predictive purposes, so that managers can start to understand and make decisions based on people’s behavior and motivations.
Currently, sales, marketing and operations are all using data to plan and measure objectives and gain actionable insight and visibility, meaning they can demonstrate the value of their contributions to the business and its bottom line. So too should HR and people teams as the department responsible for any organisation’s biggest asset: its people. That’s what PEOPLE SCIENCE IS ALL ABout.
Five steps to a successful people science journey
Apart from a simple headcount report, fewer than 50% of organisations today can deliver same-day metrics such as top and bottom performers, skills gaps, and attrition levels.
In fact, only 34% of companies are currently using data and analytics for making people decisions, according to our recent research report. In this world where some businesses currently operate on spreadsheets, or struggle to aggregate data from multiple sources, the ambition to use people science to boost visibility and drive business performance will involve several steps.
The journey starts – and businesses should start – with having accurate and accessible people data. That means that companies should hold all their data in one place and one system – a single source of truth.
Establishing a single source of truth enables the next step, which is to begin people reporting. This is the most common requirement for HR and people teams, who may already create charts and dashboards to visualise the data, and create those all-important report packs for the board meeting.
This enables HR and people leaders to access simple information such as headcount reports in seconds, instead of days.
From there, the next step is people analysis, where leaders can analyse the data and identify trends. Companies should dig into the detail to explore the why behind the what. What are the consistent patterns? Why are they occurring? And what can be done about them? For example, identifying those most likely to be a flight risk, or those least engaged.
Next is establishing people insights; here, companies should test hypotheses and predictions based on the analysis already done. If HR and people teams have made assumptions based on the analysis they hold, then here is where they test those to ascertain if they are correct, and as a result, identify solutions. This might mean identifying why employees might be a flight risk, and understanding the different possible factors or explanations behind this.
Finally, using these solutions to make smarter business decisions and design better ways of working is the ultimate end goal. In the example of identifying those most likely to leave it would mean knowing not only why – but what can be done to fix this and implementing a solution. Organisations which do this, use people science.
Putting it into action
The benefits of using people science in your organisation are vast. VP of people at Sound Cloud, Caoimhe Keogan, uses data to find the right people to hire. “We spend a lot of the time analysing the data we have available in a hunt for nuggets of insight that could ultimately prove to be valuable in our hiring processes,” she explains.
Soo J. Hong, chief human resources officer at WeWork, also says it isn’t just about accessing data and then reporting it. It’s a matter of being analytical and deriving useful insight. “For every interview we do, we have a very simple scorecard: thumbs up or thumbs down,” she says.
“We look at this data retrospectively against the hires we make, comparing it with the interviewing panel that were involved with hiring that person. We then look at how the hire is doing after 90 days or even six months. This way we can start to see who the best culture testers are in our company from an interview panel standpoint […] It is amazing to see in the data who is most effective at candidate assessment.”
So why use people science?
With people science, companies can boost workforce visibility and design better insight-driven workforce experiences for their people to ensure they attract and retain the best.
Low unemployment and the war for talent have given people choice, and organisations must work harder to recruit high-performing talent. This is magnified by a culture of employee mobility, especially among millennials – meaning retention is more vital than ever. And every employee has different motivations.
People science isn’t just a theory – it can have a powerful effect on the way your business runs. It can help you truly understand the different needs and priorities of your workforce, and change company policy as appropriate. Employee analytics should be as much of a focus as customer analytics – only then can company and workforce benefit.
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