Workforce Analytics: Target Business Objectives or Know Weird Employee Habits?

Introduction: Analytics

Technology has brought paradigm shifts in functioning of workforce planning, training, retention etc., prompting integration and synergy. Working in silos is fraught with negative repercussions both for the individuals and the organization. This is avoided to a large degree with the use of Analytics. The data lying in the organization’s data systems/centers is harnessed to make it aid understanding of the business, in this case HR. The resultant insights will be used by HR to adopt strategies to meet business objectives.

Analytics: The Type You Want to Work With

Analytics is indeed a powerful tool. Short of calling it a double edged sword, one can use it to stay focused on achieving your business objectives or can humor themselves with the candid habits or behaviors of their employees.

Sample the following scenarios:

  1. Sales reps that aren’t meeting their targets
  2. Younger employees use corporate chat more than veterans
  3. High Call center agent attrition even in day shifts
  4. Branch offices in the same time zone have different work timings
  5. Insurance claims adjusters who make too many errors
  6. Employees staying close to work place have better pay packages

Which of the above set of scenarios do you fathom has a bearing on the fortunes of a business? 1, 3, 5 or 2, 4, 6?

If your choice is 2, 4, 6 then you are off the mark.

Data on these scenarios may be interesting from an eye candy perspective but don’t contribute to the business outcomes. At the most, they may give your employees jitters that their interactions via email, chat, social media, intranet etc. are being read.

These type of analytics are the result of wrong objectives/expectations set at the beginning where finding something interesting about the workforce predominates the profit accrued from their contribution.

The resultant analytics covers all business departments/verticals/locations just skimming the top layer of employee contribution. It doesn’t drill down to the desired levels of granularity. It therefore misses the actual performance of the employee infused business unit. Consequences are mismatched input variables to derive relationships, skewed deduction of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and diagnosis of the same.

As research in the field of employee analytics point out, HR’s recording of employee data veers towards their day in the organization rather than their work. Any outcome of processing such types of data will not be actionable, for example, to increase the share value of your organization’s stocks you do not start hiring resources staying closer to your business unit (notice the disparate variables).

Analytics of this kind can only be labelled as descriptive analytics for their glitz (charts, dashboards etc.) value.

Let us examine the other approach illustrated with scenario set 1, 3, and 5. These scenarios have a direct bearing on the bottom line of an organization. And they are employee dependent!

Therefore, despite the carefully curated employee work report, a sincere effort can lead to linking a performance report with the business’s profitability. In these scenarios, specific groups are targeted (sales, call agent teams etc.) to cull data, process them and derive information and subsequently run them against business targets on cumulative basis.

The data can be structured (ex: sales figures, insurance claims processed) or unstructured (ex: KPIs, performance data). Experts can decipher the right data by a close monitoring of the pattern, waves or other forms of data plots. They can present the data in a form contextual to the decision makers.

This presents a win-win situation for both HR and the business operations (vertical/unit/location) who can collaborate to identify a pain point, target it and work to resolve it, armed with information.


Employees are a major cost overhead for the organization. Costs incurred in acquiring, onboarding, training, performance and even attrition needs to be factored in. Information related to cost obtained from this analytics process can be used to identify critical operations, turnover, improve and tune any predictive data models.

To conclude workforce analytics from HR alone cannot provide insights to achieve business objectives. Analytics from HR and business operations is required to provide strategic insights keeping cost in mind and achieve business objectives.

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