Effective implementation: driving positive change through people analytics

Elaine Mahon gives you the ABCD to implementing positive change through the power of people analytics. Elaine is speaking at the CIPD HR Analytics Conference and Workshop, 27-28 November in London. Book your ticket today.

So, everyone knows that basic workforce reporting provides essential stats for managing your workforce – how many people work for you, how much they are being paid, how many have sickness absence – but imagine a world where those stats told insightful stories about the future. Stories like – how can I help my people truly engage and drive my business journey? What will my workforce of the future look like and will the skills I’ll need in the future be out there in the market? What is the single biggest factor that could sink my business and how can I mitigate against it?

In the world of people analytics, we have started to tell stories; stories about how our business can become more effective through its people and stories about how people could be happier in their working lives. It is delivering change because of four key activities, memorable through the acronym ABCD:

Adopt an Agile approach
You have a vision and know where you are headed on your people analytics journey. But you are falling foul of trying to map that journey out to the nth degree, foresee every barrier, challenge, risk and activity which is swiftly resulting in non-delivery, or delivery of a product which as time passes, becomes less and less fit for purpose. Adopting the Agile methodology prevents just that. It ensures all projects have regular check-points, seeking customer feedback where needed. It enables identification of where things might be going wrong, and provides the space to fix it fast, whilst ensuring the final product will still meet customer specification.

Build senior leader engagement
Any people analytics venture risks failure without the buy-in from senior leaders. How to get it? Show the art of the possible. Identify what is keeping them awake at night, which may not necessarily seem to be people related on the surface. Explore what data you have available to you, thinking outside the box if needed – a Google search puts free and open data sets at your fingertips ranging from UNICEF stats on women and children to World Health Organisation stats on health and diseases. Then start small focusing efforts on analysis that will answer their questions.

Create tangible actions – the ‘So What’ factor
Analysis that fails to provide actionable and relevant insight in impact terms is useless. Analytical insights should allow you to identify tangible actions. These may not always be clear, so partner with your business leaders to explore what the analytical findings might mean in the context of their people or business. Questions such as ‘is this what you would expect to see?’, ‘Is there a behaviour in your leadership that you think might be driving this reaction?’ can help to prompt the ‘so what’ factor and drive change.

Deploy the right skills
Eliciting action on the back of analytical findings to add real value is absolutely essential, but without analysis there would be no analytical findings to act upon. Advanced Excel skills will always be required, but to smash through the maturity ceiling, people analytics is requiring more and more statistical and data science capability than ever before. This is to handle not only complex data preparation activities, such as merging and cleaning large data sets in an automated, speedy and accurate way, but also to apply the right statistical techniques to certain data sets which produce reliable, valid and robust findings.

Putting these steps in practice is delivering an award-winning people analytics service in the Office for National Statistics. We are looking forward to sharing examples of this with you at the CIPD HR Analytics Conference and Workshop in November.

Elaine Mahon is presenting ‘Effective implementation: driving positive change through people analytics at the CIPD HR Analytics Conference and Workshop, 27-28 November in London. Book your ticket today.