Analytics in HR: 9 Steps on How to Apply Analytics into Your HR Processes

Analytics in HR is a highly beneficial tool that enables employers to actively monitor and manage problematic areas in an organization, whether it be people or workforce based. But if you are yet to implement a strong analytical system in your HR strategy, here we give you 9 steps to get started.

For a lot of people, including myself, it is satisfying to see improvements or positive changes take place in something that has previously been causing an issue

But in order to see these improvements, you would first need to highlight that there is a problem, gather the facts or data and then monitor areas that change over time… and that is where analytics in HR comes in.

“HR departments are generating more data than ever before but at the same time they often struggle to turn their data into valuable insights.” 

Bernard Marr – Forbes Contributor

It’s interesting to be able to gather analytical data to use as evidence to change something of strategic value within an organization and in my personal experience, analytics has allowed me as a HR Professional to contribute towards a decrease in some commonly problematic areas such as employee turnover, absenteeism and increase employee morale and satisfaction (just to name a few).

Human Resource leaders are urged to apply big data and predictive analytics to talent, leadership, and organizational capabilities

In all honestly, analytics can be applied to any subject.

However, the first stage should be to know the basics of how to begin to apply analytics into your HR processes, so here we give you 9 steps to get started.

1. Research Relevant Data

One of the most important steps to take when applying analytics in HR is that you only research data that is relevant to the goals of the business.

By looking at the direction that you want your business to head towards and the key performance indicators that fit alongside those, you can ensure you are investigating areas that actually need to be monitored and improved for the business to succeed.

Your ability to find the right answer for a business question increases when your maturity in statistics, data mining, machine learning tools, survey management and strategic workforce management is high

Whatever data you are going to analyze needs to be of strategic value to your organization or it will be a waste of time and energy.

“Taking a strategic and planned approach to HR analytics, for example tackling a specific business issue, is likely to create the most value for the business and create further demand for HR insights.” CIPD

2. Experiment with Different Analytical Tools

With more and more tools becoming available on the market that enable users to merge successful data mining techniques, data transformation techniques and data visuals with a user friendly self-service interface, it is now easier than ever to explore your data quickly and get an action plan together to proceed forward.

Historically, many issues arose from lack of data

An article by Visier showed that 44% of companies believed that a lack of adequate investment in HR/Talent Analytical Systems made HR analytics more challenging and 54% said that inaccurate, inconsistent or hard to access data which required too much manual manipulation caused problems also; both of these issues can be easily addressed with the right analytical system and support.

3. Create an Action Plan

By having access to analytics and teaming that data with prior experience and intuition, you will be armed with the key ingredients to create a strong action plan to deliver to your customers and clients of the organization.

Human Resource leaders are urged to apply big data and predictive analytics to talent, leadership, and organizational capabilities

People generally need to see evidence of why something is happening or needs to change so to have an action plan in place can really benefit by helping people to understand the reasons.

4. Ensure Analytical Data Gathered is Legally Compliant

It’s definitely advisable to ensure the data that you plan to gather and analyze is approved by a legal team or representative and confirmed to be compliant with the law ahead of starting any analytical HR project.

It would also be wise to have the finished result approved before it is used in your business to avoid any damaging risks to the organization.

Anonymity and data protection carry strict laws and as such, you will need to provide a sound business reason as to why you intend to collate and analyze such data.

Therefore, make it a priority to check legal compliance throughout the whole process from start to finish.

In digital era, privacy must be a priority

I have witnessed organizations breaching data protection laws and I can assure you the outcome is not pretty.

5. Streamline the Process

Analytics can range from simple data collation to complex projects depending on what outcome you desire.

You may need to make some decisions initially to agree on the intended model and strategy before you can proceed and mine the data.

You would then need to check the quality of the data and clean everything up so it is in a readable and understandable format.

The people analytics revolution is gaining speed

Apparently these steps can take up approximately 75% of the time required for the whole project, so it may take some time to eventually be in the position to streamline a clear process that is user friendly.

This article found on LinkedIn recognizes a 4 step approach that includes:

  • Intake and Design
  • Data Cleaning
  • Data Analysis
  • Sharing Insights

It may not be an exact fit to the strategy in your organization, but it is a tried and tested model that would be a good place to start.

6. Have the Right Skillset

Analytics isn’t for everyone. According to a Harvard Business Review Research Project, (data of which can be found here) it was found that 47% of companies believe one of the biggest obstacles that an organization faces when it comes to “achieving better use of data, metrics, and predictive analysis by HR and talent management professionals” is having a lack of analytic acumen or skills among HR professionals.

Strategic value is where a buyer can make more from a business than it would have otherwise realised

This is because it requires a certain set of capabilities for HR analytics to be conducted correctly and some of the main skills that should be mandatory are:

  • An understanding of business objectives and timeframes
  • Knowledge of HR/Organizational processes
  • IT skills

Alongside the above, you need to have people that have a very curious and inquisitive mind, who are not afraid to ask the right questions and chase the factual answers.

However, to pull everything together, people who are able to translate the analytical HR data into an understandable format to the rest of your organization play a key role in how effective the outcome of applying analytics to your HR processes will be.

7. Focus on the Facts

Having a fact based HR organization is a concept in which you are able to prove the effectiveness of your HR policies and procedures when it comes to supporting the overall goals of the business.

HR can ensure that talent and people factors are addressed head-on in the organizational strategy

Not only does this make your HR function more credible when delivering data and forecasting results, but also effective when changes need to be made, so push your HR to be more reliant on the facts and figures rather than simply measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) or Return on Investments (ROI’s).

8. Create your HR Business Strategy

After obtaining data, knowing how to understand and translate the information in a clear way going on to create your HR business strategy is really what it all boils down to.

Many experts believe that HR has a holistic perspective on talent alignment to the business strategy

Looking at how you can create a strategy that is fully supportive of the organizational goals, how your workforce is fit for purpose and what can be done about ongoing problems, needs analytics for the strategy to be able to succeed.

9. Use HR Tech to Support the Process

With analytics set to play a large role in the HR function going forward, technology is a vital component to support the management of the analytical data and reduce accuracy errors.

With the right HR technology in place, having real-time data and data management accessible from anywhere with a wi-fi signal, applying analytics into your HR processes is about to get a whole lot easier.

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Hopefully with these steps you will be able to implement analytics into your HR processes and be on your way towards a culture of a more fact based HR organization.

Just to recap, the top 9 steps on how to apply analytics into your HR processes are:

  1. Research relevant data
  2. Create an action plan
  3. Experiment with different analytical tools
  4. Ensure analytical data gathered is legally compliant
  5. Streamline the process
  6. Have the right skillset
  7. Focus on the facts
  8. Create your HR Business Strategy
  9. Use HR technology to support the process


Written By

Robyn South

Robyn is a HR professional with over 7 years experience in generalist and complex employee relations matters. A newly established Virtual HR Assistant offering a range of HR services online, who loves to travel and part of the content management team at CakeHR.