The human element of data


Jonathan Evans

CEO

 

 
 

Data drives business, so it’s no surprise that HR functions are increasing their efforts to acquire data on people and use it to inform their decisions. In fact, 65% of people who said they work in an organisation with a strong people analytics culture said that their business performance was strong when compared with competitors.[1]

Getting insightful, practical data on people is hard, but the reason it’s hard is really simple: people aren’t consistent! Not only are we all unique, but we are also continually changing and evolving. All other functions in a business can obtainfactual data: whether it’s cost savings, profits or social media engagement, but it’s not so simple when it comes to people.

Research suggests that 40% of HR leaders don’t know what skills their workforce possesses [2], which is unsurprising when Executives are relying on their “gut feeling” to establish that less than half (45%) of their workers are capable of adapting to the future of work.[3]

 

The challenge to obtain people data existed before Covid-19, but, as with many things, the virus has accelerated us towards a ‘new normal’ where the challenges of the future are now on our doorstep. The stability that masked underperformance, attrition and cultural mismatches has gone, and business leaders are looking to HR teams to find the answers.

The difficulty with people data is that it is often focused on subjective indicators of past performance rather than being an objective analysis of current and future outcomes. The traditional tools for measuring people are only scratching the surface: KPIs only look at a niche area of performance, appraisals are subjective and often don’t result in tangible measurements, and the success of training is virtually impossible to track without assessments before and after. Under the surface lie huge challenges: disengagement, attrition, the inability to recognise HiPos, toxic leadership, and much more.

 

So, what’s the answer?

When it comes to people, the first step is recognising that you need a solution that accounts for the fact we’re all unique, and so is your business. To build an effective workforce, every function, team and person needs to be aligned to your business strategy and engaged with your business.

In short, HR needs to adopt the data-driven methodologies similar to those that other functions rely on. The Discovery team liken this to a car’s MOT – every year we have a legal obligation to check our vehicles are fit for purpose, i.e. that it meets the Government’s minimum acceptable standard. Your car may be getting you from A to B, but over time cars experience a degradation in performance and safety; without taking the time to look, there could be a whole host of problems underneath the bonnet, ready to fail at any point.

In HR, we need that same measurable standard, an 'MOT' that compares people to an objective benchmark and competency framework that are empirically linked to the future needs of your business strategy. At its core, this approach measures your people against a consistent framework, providing you with tangible metrics around an individual’s performance and future potential.

It’s only by aligning your talent management strategy to business strategy that you can establish the required competencies, behaviours, cognitive ability, values and relative pace that your employees need to demonstrate for future success.

Businesses who have already adopted this approach have: recognised and promoted HiPos, experienced higher sales growth, increased Net Promotor Scores, engaged their employees, demonstrated positive ROI for L&D spends, decreased attrition, and identified toxicity and disengagement.

With the changes that have already happened in the business world, and those that are likely to come in the next six, twelve and eighteen months, now is the time to reimagine your workforce.

Are you ready to improve your workforce?


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