Changing nature of people analytics in organisations

The human element has always been crucial in business context. Talk of employees, employers, customers – existing or potential, clients, consultants, partners, mentors, investors, shareholders, community et al, the pervasive human element is applicable without an exception. People analytics is a structured business function to manage this element.

Research suggests that the HR leaders of tomorrow would understand what technology can do, how to mine contextual insights from technology and how to apply them to the workplace to achieve organizational goals. According to a Deloitte report (Global Human Capital Trends 2016), 75% of companies agree using people analytics is important, how only 8% express confidence being strong in this area.

The nature of people analytics in organizations in changing at a rapid pace. Every passing year, technologies, processes and systems used in people analytics are showing change. This change could be termed a paradigm shift.

Paradigm shift in people analytics

People analytics is now a not-so nascent business function. It is fast evolving as a profit center for organizations that are choosing to invest in and focus upon it. We look at the hot 6 trends that indicate how the paradigm shift in people analytics is taking place at the ground level:

1. Gut driven instincts to number driven decisions: Before technology took businesses by storm, leaders often relied on their gut and subjective, cursory data-driven discussions to take important business decisions. A technology and system driven people analytics function has ensured that hard data and information supplement that gut to say the least, if not form the only basis to drive businesses forward. Take recruitment and appraisal systems, for example. Assessment of candidates' performance in interviews as well as the performance appraisal process is now increasingly becoming number driven. Online recruitment tests, e-assessments and interviews conducted and recorded online are the new normal of the recruitment sphere. Likewise, most mid-size and larger organizations choose to invest in automating their performance management systems vis-a-vis drive it manually.

2. General management to specific interventions: People analytics based systems have empowered businesses to design, monitor, review and execute business projects and processes at a meticulous and specific level, making them more robust and reliable. For instance, people analytics has expanded the purview of HR MIS (also called WFM – work force management) from employee attendance, payroll and productivity data to include well-defined KRAs, rewards, recognition, engagement, happiness, motivation, performance management, compensation and benefits et al. Realizing objectivity for factors that used to be considered subjective and largely immeasurable hitherto, is no mean feat. Technologies supporting people analytics also impart agility to the top-down as well as the bottom-top communication involved in the above-mentioned aspects, reducing turn around times in a considerable way.

3. ERP driven intranets to SMAC driven web services: Technologies supporting people analytics have opened the internet wide open for businesses, and that too in a secure manner. This suggests, organizations need not worry about the security of their data systems and confine themselves to privately hosted, high investment ERP and HRMS driven data and information systems. They can focus more on their core business by endorsing Social, Mobility, Analytics / Big data and Cloud (SMAC) – the trump quadruplet of modern technology. The inclusion of SMAC based employee and client behavioral insights into the stability and robustness driven ERP data warehouses imparts efficiency and efficacy to the people analytics systems of organizations. Employees and clients of the modern generation endorse social media and mobility and analytics systems too have adapted to the trend.

4. Ad-hoc software driven to end-to-end automation driven: Deriving consistent business value out of the technology systems you have invested in is an iterative process. Businesses themselves change and evolve over time and therefore, flexibility and dynamism are must-have features of such systems. Whether you choose to update your information system in-house, or you seek help from a professional vendor, you need to ensure your system meets your ever-increasing business requirements. You also need to mitigate the risk of potential system inadequacies and perform contingency planning well in advance. People analytics includes working with data such as employee performance, compensation and benefits, retention rates, happiness levels, productivity levels, engagement levels et al. Such huge variety and volume of data needs a sophisticated technology platform to be made workable.

5. Convention driven to innovation driven: There are 4 generations of employees working parallelly across industries – the Gen X, the Gen Y, the millennials and the Gen Z. Capturing such diverse demographics and customizing compensation, benefits, rewards and recognition to a plethora of employees is no mean task. Inclusion of innovative rewards such as experiences and vouchers to recognize, motivate and engage employees in addition to cash-based and product-based, tangible rewards is a away out. People analytics helps you ascertain what compensation structure and which types of rewards appeal to which segment of employees. A certificate, a cash award and a memento might be good enough for a Gen X employee, however it’s possible that a tech-savvy, Gen Z employee prefers experiences and vouchers over product-based awards or financial rewards.

6. Structure driven to culture driven: Modern workforce prefers a work place culture filled with fun, monitored with broad guidelines and designed through friendly policies over a structure of rigid discipline and rules. Creative freedom and flat structures are preferred over bureaucracy and hierarchies. People analytics helps you pin-point the specific benefits and pain points that you would like to keep in mind while designing your organizational structure, poilcies and guidlines. Further, employee-centric culture also makes your business more responsive and adaptive towards change, expected or unexpected, as a whole. Your leaders too are better and promptly aware of the pulse of the work place.

People analytics is a function that is cross-sectional by design – it applies whereever there are people involved. Employees form an important people stakeholder and there is a general need to engage them more closely. Employee engagement specialists and solutions providers such as Xoxoday ensure that organizations leverage both technology-based gamification and innovative RnR (rewards and recognition) to engage employees in a sustainable manner.

The future might well belong to businesses that grow in an inclusive manner, taking their people along. In order to achieve that scenario, organizations cannot afford to undermine the importance of people analytics a

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