People analytics (PA) leaders have stepped up during the pandemic, providing the data and analytics critical to helping leaders make sense of chaos and stay on the leading edge. Indeed, people analytics is leading the way to modernize HR and highlight opportunities for the business to not only quickly adapt but to get ahead of competition. Heading into 2022, there’s no greater way to do so than addressing the impact of the great resignation phenomenon on the organization.
PA leaders say that labor supply and demand, and attrition and rising wages have the greatest potential to disrupt their companies in the coming year. These labor market trends are expected to lead to increased wages, particularly for new hires, and the added challenge of compensation adjustments that may need to take place across the organization.
The transition to hybrid work is the second-most critical challenge cited among PA leaders for the year ahead. While hybrid and remote work policies may help with employee retention and talent acquisition, PA leaders are focused on building teams to prioritize this work. They want strong connectivity to support innovation and enable the kind of brainstorming that leads to using data creatively to solve new problems.
Supporting a diverse and inclusive workforce posed the third greatest potential to disrupt their organizations in 2022. PA leaders cited the importance of attracting diverse candidates, particularly for more specialized roles. Moreover, PA leaders noted that widespread talent exodus threatens to jeopardize past gains that resulted from strategic use of development and career planning to create diverse and inclusive cultures.
To position HR to advance business strategy in 2022, PA leaders are focused on using data and insights that enable proactive workforce planning strategies and the transitions associated with the future of work and hybrid work initiatives. More than perhaps any other function in HR, PA leaders are wary of what they don’t know and are keen to explore what they’re not measuring but should. They are on the hunt for better ways to use data to tackle organizational challenges in 2022 and to make data matter more.
The following priorities and predictions are excerpted from our 2022 Priorities & Predictions report, based on guidance from our People Analytics Board.
1. Driving workforce planning with data
Few things are more important in business than having a workforce equipped with the skills and capabilities to perform the work that needs to be done, when and where it’s needed most. This is workforce readiness at its core. But, according to i4cp’s 2021 study, Accelerating Workforce Readiness, few organizations have the systems in place to do so, and insufficient data about the current skills and capabilities of the organization was the number-one barrier cited to developing a ready workforce. Nearly half (43%) of organizations surveyed don’t have a process for analyzing workforce readiness.
PA leaders have the ability to contribute to strategy and proactive approaches to advance the organization in this area; i4cp’s survey of analytics leaders found that most say they aim to use data to help the organization better understand the skills and capabilities it has to date, what it will need going forward, and where it can find that talent or develop it internally. Our research found that only 13% of organizations are effective at cataloging the skills and capabilities of their current workforce. PA teams are poised in 2022 to create an accurate picture of the current landscape to enable skills-based workforce planning, developing/maintaining internal talent marketplaces, and aligning learning and development and career opportunities.
2. Supporting meaningful employee experience and retention
The wave of resignations has turned all eyes on retention strategies. PA leaders will use their digital and analytical superpowers to contribute insights that can help stem the flight of talent. PA can help identify how specific retention strategies have impacted or will impact the entire employee experience so that organizations can see how adjustments to compensation, benefits, workplace flexibility, and culture impact recruitment, onboarding, retention, engagement, and other outcomes. PA leaders will use new tools, such as organizational network analysis (ONA) and sentiment analysis to improve employee experience and provide insights on employer brand, DE&I efforts, and where HR can add value most. That’s the power of data.
3. Leading adaptation and transitions in work models
Advancements in AI and automation are rapidly changing the world of work both in HR and across the organization. PA leaders are investing in and building teams that are comfortable in this space. Flexible mindsets are needed to embrace change; i4cp’s research on this topic has shown that continuously looking ahead and preparing for what may be around the corner is a hallmark of leadership.
In 2022, PA teams are looking for ways to support forward-thinking organizations and workers and increase the use of workforce data to do so. For example, PA will be counted on to help the organization understand if upskilling/reskilling efforts are effective. And the transition to hybrid work presents challenges for organizations struggling to adapt traditional processes such as performance management and learning and development to a virtual world. One TR board member highlighted the capability to evaluate ONA data as a way to smooth the return-to office and hybrid work transition. In the face of so many competing needs for data and analysis, PA leaders will clearly have to prioritize how to use their systems and teams most effectively to foster a continually learning organization.
4. Making data matter
A major theme among PA board members is the importance of using data to evaluate ROI. Companies can have the most expensive HR systems, but if they're not connecting workforce metrics with business outcomes, or if they're not empowering employees and managers to do their jobs well, the systems don't matter. In 2022, mature PA functions are poised to pair real-time market trends with internal data. Furthermore, good data scientists are all too aware that they know a lot about a little. As one board member indicated, PA needs to be on the lookout for “what we are not analyzing that we should be, especially around the hottest issues such as helping to address turnover and staff shortages.”
Similarly, PA leaders are clear that technological progress to date has just scratched the surface of what data will be available to collect and connect by the end of this decade. Going forward, PA professionals will focus on both new ways to identify meaningful data and elevate capabilities around evaluation and assessment— determing the ROI on ideas that “sound good in theory.” In 2022, they want to support organizational learning and development, using data to shed light on what works. There was also consensus on the need to use data to understand how different levers, such as sign-on bonuses, training, and development opportunities affect the employee lifecycle and to use technology to better support the employee experience. This requires more sophisticated analytical capabilities, such as predictive analytics, to allow PA leaders to use data to test how different interventions or levers will impact desired outcomes.
For more insights from People Analytics leaders, download our 2022 Priorities & Predictions report.