May 25, 2022

Here's why HR business partners need real-time people analytics

HR leaders are ready for change. Executing a successful business transformation requires the right insights from your people data to create proactive strategies that stick. Learn more about the power of analytics to align your people and business strategies.

Around the world, the pace of change is accelerating. As if surviving the global pandemic wasn’t enough, businesses also have to deal with an array of new challenges. That includes managing hybrid workforces and navigating massive geopolitical and economic uncertainty, not to mention reckoning with a major talent reshuffle as employees jump ship to explore new career opportunities. While the full impact of these challenges remains to be seen, what’s clear is that they’re taking a toll companies and employees alike.

With so much uncertainty, today’s businesses not only need to be able to adapt, they also have to do so quickly. Recognizing that, nearly two-thirds of HR leaders surveyed for a 2022 Gartner Report on top priorities for HR leaders noted that executing business transformations was one of their top organizational priorities this year.

Of course, you can’t change what you can’t measure. Nor can you afford to drive business transformation efforts or make other critical decisions based solely on intuition or experience. To deliver on goals, meet business objectives, and align people and business strategies, HR leaders need data-driven analytics. It’s only when they have the right data and insights at their fingertips that they can they take the guess work and administrative overhead out of their lives and be effective at driving change.

HR teams need data about their people

People are critical to the success of every business. You can’t set an effective business strategy without first considering your company’s employees, their skills, needs, and experiences. Because of this, HR leaders are increasingly asked to partner with the rest of the C-suite to deliver on business strategy and goals.

Ultimately, HR leaders need access to data about their people in real time so that they can understand how they’re performing against key HR initiatives and make proactive decisions about the workforce. The reality, however, is that for many organizations that’s easier said than done.

The challenges of wrangling HR data

While there’s no doubt that better data helps lead to better decisions, the fact is wrangling HR data isn’t easy. There are three main reasons why:

HR data often isn’t centralized

First, most organizations store data about their people in a variety of different systems that aren’t connected to each other. These systems include HR, payroll, and time trackers, as well as CRM and accounting systems, among many other. As a result, leaders have to chase down the data they need, which is not only time consuming, but also often results in errors. This slows organizations down so they’re not as nimble.

To truly understand workforce performance against business goals, HR leaders need to be able to derive insights from all of the systems they’re collecting data from. And while larger organizations may have the benefit of business intelligence teams that are dedicated to building out key metrics and cohort analyses for HR leaders, the reality is that they’re still limited when their systems don’t talk to each other.

There’s too much data to digest

Of course, even when data about people is available, the sheer volume of it can be cumbersome for leaders and managers to sift through and interpret. When HR teams lack the tools to simplify the work of interpreting data, not to mention informed KPIs against which to interpret progress, it may render whatever data their companies do have meaningless.

On top of that, these days many HR leaders are tasked with doing more in less time and with fewer resources. Practically speaking, that means that trying to analyze scores of data on their own just isn’t realistic.

Data governance and security issues persist

HR leaders also face the challenge of managing data governance, privacy, and security. HR and benefits data is really valuable to organizations. Companies can tie together personal, financial, and corporate information, which can be translated into actionable insights to improve workforce performance, engagement, and other key metrics.

However, without proper data governance and security, people analytics and reports can end up in the wrong hands. We’ve seen enough examples in the recent past involving malware and ransomware attacks on HR data to know that it’s critical for organizations to get this right.

Technology can help

In an uncertain world where change is the only constant, HR teams would be wise to invest in people intelligence technology. The right solution will provide real-time visibility into critical workforce data, making it easier to assess what’s happening and make better decisions faster, while supporting data governance and security best practices. That, in turn, can lead to an array of benefits, including a reduction in labor costs, increased levels of employee engagement, higher productivity, and greater organizational agility.

Going forward, those organizations that are able to harness their HR analytics will be in the best position to align their people and their business strategies and maximize their chances for success.

Vivek Gopalpuria

Vivek is the Senior Director of Product Marketing for Ceridian's Platform, Technology, Analytics, and Integrations.

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