For businesses to sustain growth, be more productive, and attract and retain the best talent in today’s increasingly global and competitive climate, they need to use data intelligently. Data analytics has been happening for a long time in marketing, sales and finance, but now we’re seeing HR wake up to the benefits. Traditionally, HR functions capture information about employees passively in order to meet legislative requirements but organizations are now realizing it has far more potential with data analytics which is also leading to the rise of the Chief People Officer role.
While 83% of HR leaders recognize that all people decisions should be based on data and analytics, the reality in the workplace is very different. Recent research Fairsail (now Sage People) conducted amongst 500 global HR leaders for its report ‘The use of people science in fast growth companies’ showed that only 37% of those surveyed claiming to already use a data-centric approach.
Why fast-growth companies are bounding ahead
However, there is one business group making the most of its people science capabilities: the fast-growing ‘gazelle’ organizations – companies which have increased their revenues by at least 20% annually for four years or more. The research shows that these organizations are far more advanced in HR than the average company. They have full HR automation (80% v 53%) so they can report faster and more easily on a range of influential HR metrics. If asked to report on headcount within a single day, 84% can do it; that’s 16 percentage points better than non-gazelles. They can more easily report on high potential employees (58% v 42%) and on personal growth (58% v 41%).
These gazelle organizations can see what’s working and what needs to change and can take action confidently to make sure they’re supporting employees to achieve their potential. While gazelles are the one’s bounding ahead, all is not lost as almost every organization we spoke to did have an awareness of the potential to use people and HR data to improve their business.
Use Chief People Officers to close the gap
Even if they haven’t yet marshalled it effectively or decided exactly how they’ll use it, a staggering 92% said they’d like to use people science to improve their business. And another 65% said that in the next 12 months they need to achieve greater data visibility.
The research also positively showed a movement across all organizations to make a highly visible change that reflects the shift to a people focus: 17% have appointed a Chief People Officer to put people science at the heart of their business. The gap between the gazelle approach and the non-gazelle approach looks set to narrow in the very near future, as all businesses take action on their ever-growing awareness of the importance of people analytics.
Tap into data to unlock rapid growth
So what can we learn today from these market-leading organizations? Seeking and seizing opportunities and using every lever a company can get its hands on to improve performance is the key to rapid growth. Organizations shouldn’t be afraid to explore the latest people thinking, or adopt the tools that gather data and turn it into business intelligence. The challenge is to put systems and tools in place to collect and analyze it for tangible benefit – as 31% revealed, they don’t currently have the right technology in place to interpret the necessary people science. Automation helps companies move away from old-style HR with its laborious administration and manual processes and spreadsheets. With this, people teams should be able to explore the workforce data to understand what employees want and need. They can take action to provide great workforce experiences that makes the most of talent to fuel productivity and business growth.
To read the full ‘The use of people science in fast growth companies’ report, please visit www.fairsail.com.
About the Author:
Adam Hale, EVP of Sage People, previously acted as Executive Chairman and Non Executive Director having spent over 30 years in the technology industry. He was formerly Head of Software and European Technology at Russell Reynolds Associates, the leading executive search firm and before that ran large system implementation projects at Accenture. Adam is also a committee member of the Technology Leadership Group (TLG) for the Prince’s Trust.