Building the foundations for People Analytics

27 July 2020

Carl Gould – Technical Consultant, Liaison Workforce

Recently there has been a “call to action” within the NHS, driven by the NHS People Plan to utilise workforce data through analytics. However, according to the CIPD, only 21% of UK HR professionals are confident conducting advanced analytics. Even amongst those ready to take People Analytics forward, we have found there are obstacles and challenges to overcome… you cannot jump straight to “let’s purchase a HR Analytics software package” without taking the previous necessary steps in preparation.

In this blog series, we will be taking an in-depth look at the considerations and challenges faced before implementing a People Analytics solution, and recommending that NHS organisations should ask the following questions to help them prepare to do so:

What is our organisation’s HR strategy regarding People data?

When considering data collection, the content presented to users’ needs to be relevant. Information overload is often a factor that disengages users early on, and so HR directors need to be clear on what areas of analysis have the most value, so that users can find meaning in the data quickly.

Do we understand the value and purpose of our People Analytics?

To bring people along on the analytics journey, you need to be able to articulate what value it will bring the organisation and how it will benefit different stakeholders. An organisation should consider what are the non-monetary benefits, and what it hopes to achieve from the analytics.

Do we understand the analytics data quality challenges?

The graveyard for reporting software products is vast and well walked, often because they are rolled out to the user base and the users don’t trust the data or how to effectively utilise it. It is rare to get two chances to engage and invigorate a user base. So, it is extremely important that the data presented is of a high quality from the outset.

Asking these questions are an essential part of the People Analytics process, and any People Analytics implementation is likely to fail without considering these questions. We will be looking at these areas in more detail throughout this blog series.

For further information or assistance on any area of People Analytics, please contact our team at:

Phone: 0845 603 900

People Analytics 1: What is our organisation’s HR strategy regarding people data?

Having too much information when reading data analysis can be just as disengaging as not having enough. When considering employing People Analytics, HR Directors should consider how relevant the resulting content is to your overall workforce strategy and what impact it will have on operational performance. It is no good planning to have a whole suite of reports on agency usage if you only have small agency spend that is confined to one division, for example. NHS organisations can break this down by looking at whether the data content falls into the following considerations:

Will the content help assist in specific workforce decisions?

As you move to drive operational outcomes, the reports or insights need to mean something; think of it as the “so what?!” factor. Ask yourself if the reports will have an impact on the recipient’s actions, as it is these impacts that will drive change. If it doesn’t, then you should consider removing it to help avoid any information overload.

You should also look at more than just the themes of the reports, and instead look at how the content is presented. For example, do users need to see a report for sickness rate listing all fifty cost centres in their division? Perhaps not, and so what may have more impact is a visual graph of the top ten worst performing cost centres. Consider whether the solution for presenting your findings is to drill down to more granular levels of data, and therefore help readers to cut through the noise and get to the most valuable insights as quickly as possible.

Does the content track important workforce KPIs?

Particularly in the NHS, there are key metrics and performance indicators that are needed for assessing the current performance in workforce, benchmarking (regionally and nationally), and for compliance. These can easily be replicated for speed and efficiency, but there is opportunity to also engage with other stakeholders in the organisation and to give visibility and local benchmarking of specific divisions compared to organisational performance.

Within benchmarking, we can automate analysis of data outliers for a specific set of conditions. For example, if we look at turnover rate by staff group, length of service and sickness (highlighted in bold), we could be presented with (by way of example only):

Radiographers with less than 12 months service with at least 1 instance of sickness have a turnover rate 3 times higher than the rest of the organisation.

From this, we can very quickly begin to see anecdotal triggers for key metrics using historical data, making the overall data analysis more useful for identifying trends and areas for improvement.

Can the content measure progress for specific workforce strategies and objectives?

By using KPIs and reports to benchmark the starting point of workforce objectives and assessing not only the overall progress, but areas where progress is either not on track or exceeding expectations, the content can be analysed and assessed, and further applied to the areas that need improvement.

You could also use People Analytics to help inform what your strategy and objectives should be. In cutting through the noise of low-impact data and freeing up staff from manual report processes, these staff can assess the data to feed into workforce planning – not just track the progress.

Effective People Analytics allow us to challenge the current workforce planning process and workforce reports produced; just because “it’s always been done that way” does not mean it is still valuable. Reports and metrics often incrementally get added to and expanded, and are not reviewed holistically.

We know that there is a call to action within the NHS People Plan to utilise People Analytics, and Liaison Workforce has not only the technology, but also the expertise, to help NHS organisations make the most of analytics software and understand where they are on their journey. Liaison Workforce can help to plot out a course that compliments the HR strategy and objectives through our implementation support and People Programs.

To learn more, please contact our People Analytics specialists on:

Phone: 0845 603 900

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