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Starting a Workforce Analytics Program? Start small to go big

November 25, 2014

Workforce analytics has been one of the hottest buzzwords in modern HR recently.  With the highly publicized successes of Google’s workforce analytics programs and the growing realization that managing scarce global talent will be the competitive advantage in the foreseeable future, it is no wonder that organizations large and small are scrambling to build such capabilities in their organizations. 

But the benefits of workforce analytics are not restricted to large firms with many employees, deep pockets, and sophisticated HR systems; and not all analytics programs have to be complex and costly.  In fact, sometimes smaller is better when it comes to your first foray into workforce analytics.  Here are some tips your organization can consider when starting your own workforce analytics program.

 

Don’t boil the ocean

One of the biggest challenges is in conceptualizing the analytical framework; and the data and tool related to executing the framework.  Many organizations start with the ambitious agenda of building a comprehensive program; which could prove costly, time consuming and technically challenging.  Rather, consider finding small wins whereby limited and easily available data and resources demonstrate the value of data driven people decisions.  Over time, this phased approach will not only help build organization confidence in using workforce analytics for business decisions, but also buy HR more time and resources to grow the practice. 

 

Start with the end in mind

There will typically by a strong temptation to go mining the data for any and all insights.  Resist this urge; not all insights are equal nor relevant.  Instead, consider the key business or people challenges that the organization is facing today and how the data can help the development of suitable organization responses to these challenges.  This increases the likelihood that the analytics and findings are relevant and the rest of the organization would be interested in hearing about it.

 

Use data to confirm or disprove existing hypotheses

If your organization is just starting your own analytics journey, chances are, many of the past people decisions may have been based on “gut feel” and intuition.  In the absence of hard data and analytics, such decisions may still be the right ones; assuming that management is attuned to the organization.  Workforce analytics may be used her to confirm or disprove existing hypotheses; where hypotheses are proven, it provides organization with greater confidence and conviction in the decisions; where hypotheses are disproven, people strategies can be reviewed and adjusted.

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Many small to medium sized organizations are not likely to able to afford dedicated workforce analytics resources.  The internet, particularly social networking sites offer rich resources and support on the subject.  Consulting firms can offer more customized solutions; and if the larger consulting houses are beyond your price range, boutique workforce analytics consulting firms may be available for a price that suits.

 

Publicize successes

It’s ok to pat yourself on the back whenever workforce analytics supports fact based decisions in your organization.  .  Take the time to publicly recognize the team and all those that contributed to the effort.  This is good practice in education the organization on the benefits of workforce analytics, it is also essential in maintaining momentum for the continued investment in workforce analytics.  

 

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