12 October 2012

Using Your Data - Workforce Analytics


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


HR transformation Technology


In the current challenging economic climate, workforce analytics are more important than ever.  Knowing where your business is performing well and, more importantly, where it isn’t, can be crucial when strategic decisions are being made.

What is workforce analytics?

Many companies have the ability to capture, and in some cases, analyse certain amounts of their data, such as absence, manpower and salary information to a certain extent, but how useful is the output?

Can you take this a step further? A company’s workforce is its most important asset, but how much information is readily available to that business about this crucial asset?  For years it has been possible to analyse and report on financial data, but why has the same not been applied to the workforce?  Workforce analytics can be used to achieve a whole array of vital information, which can then be used when making strategic decisions.

Why use performance analytics?

On a proactive level, workforce analytics used effectively enables HR to drive the business forward, ensuring that strategic milestone’s are set and achieved. On a reactive level, workforce analytics allow a business to identify top talent and potentially have the ability to replace an employee with an internal resource, rather than suffering the additional costs and effort associated with a recruitment campaign. Workforce analytics let you analyse your data to gain insight, make better decisions and take appropriate actions to drive greater business success.

What do I do with performance analytics data?

Collecting and recording data from different areas of the business is only the first step; in order to capitalise on this data, it needs to be presented correctly. Data that is static and is simply a series of numbers is not useful to anyone, however, data that is processed dynamically quickly displays trends and statistics, which is far more valuable.  For example;

If you have a spreadsheet containing over 10,000 records, in no particular order, of the age ranges of your staff, their department and location, then this would take a long time to analyse and yield any benefit from. If you presented with this data in graph form, displaying the different age ranges for each department and location, then this is much quicker and easier to read, analyse and gain insight from. You can then quickly see how many of your employees are nearing the age of retirement and implement a succession plan.

Some of the areas that benefit from workforce analytics are;

  • Training and development
  • Talent retention
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Employee performance
  • Aligning and motivating workers to achieve your business strategies
  • Linking employee survey results to financial performance and productivity

Consolidating data

Although there are a multitude of  ways to combine and analyse the data held by businesses, there is still a lack of knowledge amongst those involved on how to effectively carry out this analysis. Real-time data is required, and transferring this data from various systems to one central repository can prove an expensive and complicated exercise. Systems such as Ciphr Connect or Org Plus enable businesses to gather data from disparate sources and combine it into a single ‘source of truth’.  This data can then be effectively analysed and reported on, to aid the development of business strategies and justifying critical decisions.
An important consideration is that the system should be able to integrate HR data across all areas of the business;  whether this is through automated exports of data or direct integration between systems. Whichever system is used to incorporate this data, should be intuitive and easy to use to interrogate the information gathered.
The output of the workforce analytics should be such that it enables the business to quickly see trends and important human capital information from all areas of the company.

The tools that businesses currently use are;

  1. Spreadsheets …..62%
  2. Integrated analytics from HRMS/HRIS …..39%
  3. Analytics from financial solution (e.g., ERP) …..14%
  4. Corporate/IT-delivered business intelligence system …..12%
  5. Dedicated business intelligence for HR…..8%
  6. Dedicated workforce analytics solution……7%
  7. Other….. 10%

Source: Visier Inc. 2012 Survey of U.S.-Based Employers; conducted by Fisher Vista

As you can see from the above statistics, currently the majority of businesses are still using spreadsheets to analyse their data. In most cases these spreadsheets are neither automated or intuitive, and would require many man-hours to produce and analyse effectively.