By Jonathan Ferrar, Vice President, IBM Smarter Workforce




Questions on Talent Analytics? Jonathan Ferrar (Conference Chair) will be presenting at the Workforce Analytics Summit, New York. To learn more on IBM Kenexa Talent Insights, please click here.

I think we can safely say that the workforce analytics movement has begun. Josh Bersin spotted the “take-off” late last year and the new IBV CHRO study confirms: “The number of CHROs using predictive analytics to make informed workforce decisions is rising.” (See chart)

chart-wfa-articleI’ve been working in workforce analytics for a number of years, so why are we only now seeing more widespread adoption? For me, the interest is being driven by a business focus. The big value in workforce analytics is the evidence it brings to influence organisational outcomes.

The importance of this link between people data and organisational outcomes is coming through time and again in the interviews I’ve been conducting recently as I, with two colleagues, research and write a book on workforce analytics.


That book won’t be published until later this year, but if you’re keen to get on board this workforce analytics movement now, here are some early insights, or tips for success:


  • “I am not a number!” When you get into the detail of the data, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that your data are about people. Insights and actions from your analytics projects will affect people. HR professionals and behavioural science experts can offer a really helpful perspective to ensure that actions have the desired, not unintended, consequence.


  • Boil a pan, not the ocean. Speed is of the essence, but don’t let that worry you. Many people have had great success starting small and demonstrating the potential for workforce analytics in their organisation with a ‘quick win’ project. Ideally, find a project for which you already have some data and that links to a business outcome that matters to people outside of HR – sales, customer retention, increase in productivity, etc.
  • Don’t just report, tell a story. While some workforce analytics functions are primarily about reporting and dashboards, try to move beyond some of the more basic reporting. Stay true to your data, but share your insights using the best practice of story-telling. Most non-analytical types respond better to stories, infused with data, than they do to pages of data tables.


If you can’t wait until later this year when our book is published, check out our Smarter Workforce Institute white paper: Starting the workforce analytics journey: The first 100 days for more tips. Jump aboard; the train is already leaving the station!


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