people analytics

How to Use People Analytics for a Better Workplace Environment

What do people analytics mean and why is it considered the yardstick for improving work environments? People analytics are defined as the collection and application of talent data to improve critical talent and business outcomes, according to Gartner

By utilizing behavioral data with automation to analyze large numbers of datasets, talent managers can gain the ability to devise substantiated insights to improve the whole HR pipeline from attraction, recruitment, compensation, promotion, training, to evaluation.

This is possible because of the deep history of people analysis in the talent management profession. It can be traced down to Frederick Taylor who earned the title of “Father of Scientific Management.” The mechanical engineer sought to achieve optimal productivity by implementing principles of scientific management. But his efforts to achieve operational efficiency were met with qualms from workers in the early 1900s. However, the origins of people analytics are now lauded as a powerful tool in organizations, most especially in Human Resources (HR) management.

With today’s advancement in technology, the application of people analytics has truly been maximized to an extent where businesses can consider Taylor a hero in talent management.

A word of caution

It’s essential for business executives to understand that data shouldn’t be perceived as conclusive information. YSC Consulting warns businesses of the significant penalties of using incorrect data. Beyond the financial consequences, analysis of unreviewed historical data can affect employees’ lives drastically. 

In 2018, an e-commerce giant had to scrap its AI recruitment tool when it was uncovered that it demonstrated bias against women. Therefore, utmost sensitivity should be maintained when handling any form of data. 

Other forms of more subtle biases come from gathering data that doesn’t capture important measures that are equally essential to common measures that HR experts would deem more definitive. 

For instance, the most common factors in evaluating candidates for a certain position include undergraduate GPA, certificates, and licenses. However, in a Harvard Business Review article, data analytics practitioners and advocates explain that data coming from this information are incomplete and often don’t define the candidate fairly. 

They explained scenarios where job applicants don’t necessarily have considerable grades during college because of time management difficulties stemming from their economic circumstances but demonstrate high resilience quotients are often overlooked. The failure to correspond what you want to measure and what you really measure will ultimately result in the misuse of any people analytics tool.   

So how do you maximize people analytics in an organization? First, talent managers like HR staff and global mobility professionals must be mindful of the limitations of AI-based models and observe their application across demographic groups. This is especially useful in cases where an AI’s algorithm recommends training gaps based on data that could misrepresent the workforce population. Experts suggest using a bias dashboard that separately monitors how a people analytics tool performs using different demographics such as race, gender, or age to detect any biases.

The role of workplace analytics

Another aspect analytics can play an important role is in the workplace, whether onsite or remote. Robin, a workplace platform, elaborates on how to leverage workplace data and analytics. It emphasizes that workplace analytics provides explicit evidence that office space contributes to the ease of work for employees and not just because it’s perceived to be so. With the emergence of work-from-anywhere workplace setup, business leaders are concerned about not getting their money’s worth in real estate and utility costs. 

To be able to identify which spaces are now unnecessary, the workplace platform company recommends gathering information by asking the following questions:

  • Which conference rooms are used more often than others? At what rate are they being booked?
  • What spaces throughout the office are underutilized?
  • Why are employees avoiding the areas of the office that go underutilized?
  • Do the types of meetings employees are having match the space they’re booking?
  • How many no-show, abandoned, and ghost meetings happen every week? Do those meeting rooms open up to the rest of the office when no one shows up?

Once this information is gathered, departments handling IT and facilities can now make adjustments accordingly. 

But what of the remote/hybrid workplace setup? What specific data should be measured in this workplace model? There may be much information that can be measured in the workplace set-up, but one specific outcome that has businesses keen on observing in the remote workforce is productivity.

ActivTrak, a workplace analytics platform, recognizes the significance of measuring workforce productivity in today’s circumstances regardless of a company’s workplace model. The ability to understand and improve productivity lies within teams leaders’ knowledge on:

  • How teams are investing their time to assess if that aligns with priorities and roles
  • How much time is spent on focused work vs. in meetings, or in collaboration apps
  • Which apps commonly cause distractions that interrupt focused work
  • Where working hours are spiking or consistently high so you can help avoid burnout
  • How efficient individuals are with their time, i.e., how much of their screen time is spent on productive activities

Once they gather relevant data, they now have the resources to perform analyses on quantifiable data. It’s important to note though that before making any conclusions based on quantitative data, it’s best to accompany it with qualitative investigation to reduce the risks in formulating conclusions stemming from biased or misinterpreted information.