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Ideas and insights for today’s people-centered leaders.

Just as wines get better with age, and musicians grow more skilled with practice, companies reap larger financial benefits as they mature their people analytics practice. Organizations which started their people analytics journey three years ago have made huge strides, and even those newer to the people analytics space are reaping rewards. Read on for four of the most striking findings contained within the report. 

From May to July 2021 Visier surveyed its customers to gauge how well they’d advanced their people analytics practice and to ask what guidance they could provide to organizations newer to people analytics. The Age of People Analytics 2021: Practices Leading to Value from People Analytics Maturity compares the trends and changes from when the last survey was conducted in 2018. While the report divides surveyed organizations into those who are advanced and those who are emerging (just beginning their people analytics journey), the findings show that all companies have delivered more benefits from using people analytics since 2018.

The full report serves as a blueprint on the ideal people analytics solutions, how decisions are made, analytics topics and data sources, team size and users, and more for success. Below are a few findings from this comprehensive guide for organizations at any stage of their people analytics journey.

1. Using people analytics has a big payoff (especially from diversity and inclusion analyses)

Some of the main findings of the report hinge on the value of using people analytics effectively. We compared the financial performance of publicly-traded Visier customers to benchmark data on all organizations on return on assets, a measure of how well an organization deploys its resources to generate a profit, and on profit margins. In all cases, Visier’s publicly-traded customers outperform benchmarks.

Adopting Visier People Analytics correlates with financial performance; Visier customers saw 73% higher profit margins and 137% higher return on assets. 

Slightly more than half of the surveyed organizations are using people analytics to improve HR effectiveness. Further, the number of organizations who have advanced to the point where the benefits of people analytics are affecting business outcomes has tripled since 2018. Using people data to make effective decisions isn’t a novelty anymore. And when it comes to diversity and inclusion analytics, Visier customers outperform even more! From numerous other research studies conducted by Visier over the past five years, we have seen our customers improve female leadership ratios and promote more women managers at lower levels indicating a potential further surge in women breaking the glass ceiling and giving reason to why these organizations outperform. 

2. Serving people managers is the new focus of advanced organizations

While none of our customers rolled out to people managers first, more than half are doing an “enablement 2.0” effort through a second rollout, directed exclusively to people managers. Advanced organizations more frequently serve people managers (50% versus 28%). Even emerging organizations are engaging with people managers as allies, which is a change from 2018. This was such a significant difference that we dug deeper to see the implications of this key differentiator among our customers. They are exemplary for many reasons:

  • 56% have achieved the business outcome level of value compared to 25% in emerging organizations
  • 83% also serve business leaders 
  • 78% also serve the finance team or manager compared to 41% overall 
  • They use nine analytics topics, often ones focused on optimizing costs, such as span of control analysis, and some that provide specific support to people managers, such as compensation analytics, total cost of workforce, and pay equity

It’s also important to note that HR business partners (HRBPs) are still an integral part of the success of all organizations adopting people analytics. And HRBPs themselves are on a journey to greater understanding and using data and analytics. Across all surveyed organizations HRBPs most frequently manifest strategic capabilities.

Adopting Visier people analytics correlates with improved financial performance.

3. Better data, broader sources, deeper questions

In 2018, survey respondents cited “data quality issues” as one of the top three barriers to using effective people analytics. Advanced organizations have learned how to clean their data in three years, with only 21% saying that data quality issues are a major factor. The main concern cited in 2021 is HR systems don’t connect to important business results, such as profit, customer satisfaction, and revenue.

All surveyed organizations are using data from more sources than they were in 2018. Advanced organizations integrate more sources and more talent management, employee engagement data, and non-HR sources. Not only are the more mature organizations pulling from more data sources (including financial and workforce management), they’re also asking questions beyond the basic gateway questions regarding turnover and retention that organizations ask when they first start their people analytics journey.

4. Managing change through culture

In 2018, 21% of Visier customers reported a culture of change management; in 2021 that number among our advanced customers is nearly double that. The supporting change management practices include creating a company-wide vision for a data-driven culture, focusing on communications and training, or creating people analytics centers of excellence. Furthermore, advanced organizations are more likely to report a strong vision of being data driven among leaders, whereas emerging organizations aren’t as skilled at change management and are more likely to provide minimal communication.

It’s time to mature your people analytics practices

Since 2018, organizations have matured their practices. While we separated our customers into those beginning their people analytics journey (“emerging”) and advanced organizations, all the survey respondents have evolved in their use of people analytics in the past three years. Skilled users are broadening their scope and impact, reaping benefits of improved business outcomes for their organizations. 

While we can’t speculate on the changes the next three years will bring, our findings show that organizations benefit from adopting—and taking full advantage of—the people analytics space sooner rather than waiting to see the benefits their competitors gain, by using people data to make actionable business decisions.

Download The Age of People Analytics 2021: Practices Leading to Value from People Analytics Maturity today to learn more. 

About the author: Catherine Cheek

Catherine “Kater” Cheek is an award-winning author with a breadth of writing experience from corporate communications to storytelling. As Senior Copywriter at Visier, she aims to highlight the human stories behind the data and showcase details that make complicated concepts easy to understand.

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