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Workforce analytics: back to reality

Published by OrgVue

Workforce analytics - transform HR

Can we close the gap between the rhetoric and reality of workforce analytics?

Just 7% of organisations consider themselves ‘advanced’ with workforce analytics, according to our recent report Strategic Workforce Analytics, carried out in partnership with the Corporate Research Forum.

But with the global market predicted to reach $1.29 billion by 2022, it looks like workforce analytics will fundamentally transform HR. So what is the current state of workforce analytics right now, and what can your business do to take advantage of the emerging tools and techniques in this field?

Building value through collaboration

It is clear from the report that workforce analytics will only reach its full potential by combining workforce and business perspectives. Effort is often too focused on ‘HR for HR’s sake’, with emphasis on metrics with little actionable insight.

By operating in an HR data silo, organisations will never be able to make meaningful connections between the workforce and the business – and this will limit workforce analytics from ever gaining traction or achieving tangible results. Disappointingly, it appears that organisations have a long way to go until these data silos are broken down; less than a quarter of respondents to the survey see collaboration to any great extent between their HR analytics teams and the rest of the business.

Considering the rapidly shifting nature of work and the evolution of the workforce, it is now even more critical that organisations take a collaborative approach to analytics. For example, automation and machine learning will give business leaders opportunities to reinvent their operating models and enter new markets, but they will need to rework their processes, systems and workforce. Analytics is key to understanding where the workforce can be reconfigured most effectively.

Equally, political forces like the UK’s upcoming exit from the European Union will continue to affect talent strategy at an enterprise level. Examining the labour implications of Brexit on an organisation requires data from across a multitude of departments, combining growth plans with turnover rates and demographic data.

Leadership and delivery

Of course, the success of workforce analytics is not just reliant on breaking down data silos. Insights are only valuable if they lead to action, and this requires collaboration between HR and business leaders to deliver tangible change.

But what is striking is that organisations are still in the very early stages of deploying workforce analytics to improve performance; only 14% of businesses have used analytics to successfully predict outcomes and take action to a great extent. In my experience, leadership is the ultimate bridge between workforce analytics and actual execution. Without the ownership and sponsorship of the entire executive team, insights remain worthless.

Closing the gap

So how can businesses start to close the gap between the rhetoric and the reality of workforce analytics? At Concentra, we believe that organisations should begin by identifying what analysis is likely to add the greatest value to business outcomes. To do this, we help our clients use scenario modelling and other techniques to help companies better understand the relationship between their strategy, work and workforce. The result is unparalleled visibility across the organisation and auditable, data-driven decision-making.

The report asks if the reality of workforce analytics lives up to the hype. My answer is “not yet”. It’s clear that many organisations are a long way from realising the true value of analytics. But by connecting workforce to business strategy, and by building capability through collaboration, workplace analytics can and will make a significant impact on business performance.

Want to find out more? Download the full report here.