Organisations upskilling to make sense of people data

New research claims that there has been a huge rise in the number of people analytics teams as HR is called on to take an increasingly strategic role in shaping business performance. Innovation generation: the big HR tech disconnect, a report released by Thomsons Online Benefits, claims there has been a significant increase in the proportion of UK-based global organisations building people analytics teams, rising from 8 percent to 43 percent in just three years. With tech talent in short supply, the survey of 60 HR decision makers from UK-based companies suggests that employers are looking to upskill existing HR team members to make sense of the data now available to them.

Over two thirds 70 percent of those surveyed say they have upskilled existing HR team members to meet their needs for data analysis, almost 50 percent more than those who hired in external talent. A further 22 percent plan to upskill HR team members over the next 12 months

Matthew Jackson, VP Client Solutions at Thomsons, comments: “There’s a common misconception that digitalisation and increasing automation will lead to job losses. Our research indicates that when it comes to HR, this simply isn’t the case – at least not in the near to mid-term. Instead, we will see an evolution of skills as businesses increasingly look to HR teams to supply data-based insights that can play a real role in measuring and informing people strategy.”


The advantages of drawing on people data

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“There’s a common misconception that digitalisation and increasing automation will lead to job losses.”[/perfectpullquote]

87 percent of UK-based global employers surveyed currently use or plan to use employee data to report on business operations and performance. And those employers who do so are seeing significant results:

• 44 percent have used people data insights to improve employee engagement
• 31 percent have improved employee productivity
• 62 percent have improved their benefits programme by looking at employees’ interactions with their benefits platform

Lisa Morrow, Global Benefits Program Managers, at NetApp said: “We’re only just starting to tap into the potential that people data in the modern workplace offers. There’s huge potential for us as HR professionals to make a tangible business impact by harnessing this information, but it’s essential that our teams have the skills needed to interpret data and provide insights in a way that is useful to business leaders. The more we develop our understanding of people analytics, the more we’ll be able to contribute at the boardroom level, offering expertise that can feed into business strategy and encourage greater productivity and company loyalty among employees.”


The disadvantages of data disconnect

While 40 percent of respondents consider themselves ‘an innovator’ or ‘an early adopter’ when it comes to the adoption of HR technology, the research suggests there’s a disconnect between technology adoption and using the data generated effectively.
Almost 40 percent of employers aren’t using people analytics to report on benefits take-up, diminishing their ability to accurately gauge return on investment.
30 percent of UK-based global employers spend upwards of 16 percent of employee salary on benefits – equivalent to £3,542 per employee in the UK.
Among those global organisations not using or planning to use employee data to report on business operations, 31 percent cite a lack of data literacy in the HR function as the primary barrier, alongside poor-quality data.


Increasing availability of data driving change

With organisations set to increase the amount and variety of people data that they gather, data illiteracy won’t remain an option for long:

• 62 percent of employers collect employee benefits data on benefits take-up and scheme engagement, but this figure is set to skyrocket to 96 percent in the next three years
• 21 percent of companies collect data generated from building sensors, on employees’ footfall or desk time for example, but 50 percent are likely to do this by 2022
• When it comes to wearables, only 7 percent of global employers collect data from these, but this is likely to rise to 43 percent within three years

Matthew Jackson continues: “At present, having people analytics skills within the HR function is optional, but soon they will be imperative. The significant budgets that HR teams are handling are simply too large not to track, and the potential for better, data-led decision making is too big to ignore.”