Analytics Are a Decision Maker’s Best Friend

For companies well-versed in analytics, the numbers are beginning to add up.


Organizations that apply data-driven decision making out-perform their competitors — period. Yet, there is a significant gap between intent and action regarding organizational workforce analytics programs.

According to Bersin by Deloitte’s 2015 “Global Human Capital Trends” report, 75 percent of executives stated workforce analytics was “important”; but only 8 percent rated their function’s capability for analytics as “strong.” Bersin also reported that more than 90 percent of the HR industry make decisions only using descriptive analytics such as reporting, surveys and benchmarks.

So, leaders acknowledge that analytics are important; they just don’t seem to know how to use the data. Improving organizational productivity using analytics will come from advancements in discovering previously uncovered ecosystem relationships. An ecosystem is defined as any system or network of interconnecting and interacting parts. New sources of information are being discovered with both structured and unstructured data. IBM estimates that 80 percent of the data being created is “dark,” meaning it is not currently being data mined and analyzed. Advancements in analytics will enable more dark data to be uncovered and analyzed, enabling significantly more insights into organizations.

Analytics can help answer such strategic issues such as, is our people strategy aligned to our business goals? Do we have the right talent in the right places? Where can we improve safety? Are we developing the next generation of leaders? What employee segments are most at-risk to leave?

Analytics also can help answer operational issues such as how can we improve our leadership development program? How can we improve safety scores at locations most at risk? What are the best characteristics for a successful hire? Why is our wellness program working in some parts of the organization, and not others?

Analytics are beneficial for the talent acquisition ecosystem as well. The talent acquisition ecosystem involves gathering a significant amount of data on a potential employee, such as education, job history, social media and more. Historically this information was primarily structured data. New unstructured data sources are being uncovered such as voice-to-text and social media, and are becoming as important as the traditional sources. New areas of social science are being explored such as grit, sentiment, emotional intelligence and motivation that may unlock new insights into the best candidates to hire — and once hired, the best employees in which to invest learning resources.

The external environmental ecosystem includes macro and micro-economic issues, social and political influences, seasonality, job skills market and competition. The talent acquisition industry has made early, but significant progress integrating external disparate data sources with recruiting data to make more informed decisions in talent acquisition and to predict attrition for those hires.

Talent investments are offered throughout an employee’s lifecycle to improve both organizational productivity, and employee engagement and retention. Learning and development is a key investment. But for the most part, these investments are offered and/or delivered homogeneously without much regard for different population types. Learning leaders must move aggressively and create segmented talent offerings to personalize talent investments to the individual. Further, these should be available 24/7, in whatever mediums employees prefer.

Figure 1;
Figure 1

Figure 1 shows that organizations have a significant amount of data upon hiring a candidate. But rarely is that data used in the analysis when making talent investment decisions. Using the data from structured and hopefully unstructured talent acquisition processes when making talent investment decisions will significantly improve intended outcomes.

Data mining to uncover the relationships between talent acquisition intelligence, and upping analytics prowess will enable leaders to cultivate a better understanding of strategic levers they can use to increase operational performance. It also allows learning leaders to create customized people development plans to help increase people engagement and retention, a win-win for both the organization and the individual.

Gene Pease is an author and entrepreneur. His company, Vestrics, was acquired by Ultimate Software in 2015. To comment, email