UK businesses fall behind with people analytics

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​The UK is lagging behind in its use of people analytics despite there being clear benefits to using data, according to CIPD and Workday research

The research from the CIPD in association with Workday highlights a strong relationship between the use of people data and strong business outcomes. It showed that organisations with a strong people analytics culture are much more likely to report strong business performance.

However, the report also showed that wide-scale adoption of people analytics practice is still low and that more needs to be done to improve skills and confidence in the HR function, particularly in the UK.

People Analytics: driving business performance with people data surveyed 3,852 business professionals globally. It found that just over half (54%) of global respondents said they had access to people data and analytics.

Two-fifths (39%) have no access to people data for decision-making purposes, and 52% of HR professionals stated that their organisation uses people data to tackle business problems. Just 42% of finance professionals have access to their workforce’s people data, despite the relationship between access to workforce data and strong business outcomes.

Where people analytics is used the research showed that it is adding value to organisations, with 65% of those who said they work in an organisation with strong people analytics culture stating that their business performance was strong in comparison to other competitors. Just 32% of businesses with a weak people analytics culture felt they had strong business performance.

The research found marked regional differences, with the UK lagging far behind other markets. Just 21% of HR professionals are confident conducting advanced analytics, compared to 46% of HR professionals in southeast Asia.

Two-thirds (67%) of HR respondents in southeast Asia and 60% in the Middle East and North Africa agree they have a standardised approach to using people data in projects, compared to 50% of US respondents and just 42% of UK respondents.

Global confidence in HR capability was also a concern. Just 40% of global respondents said their HR team was able to tackle issues using analytics, and only 53% of HR professionals globally think their HR team has demonstrable numerical and statistical skills, while just 36% of finance professionals agreed.

Edward Houghton, human capital and governance adviser for the CIPD, said that while the capabilities of people analytics to improve organisations were encouraging, there needed to be greater investment in the skills needed to make the most of data.

“It’s hugely encouraging to see that the use of people analytics in organisations is leading to positive outcomes. The more access HR and non-HR professionals have to people data, the higher they rate their organisation’s performance. However, there are still clear challenges in terms of access to data and the confidence and capabilities in the HR function needed to get the best results from it, particularly in the UK,” Houghton said.

“We need to see greater investment in the skills needed to understand people data and we need to encourage the use of people analytics across different functions in organisations, and in finance in particular. HR must lead the development of cultures that share a ‘common language’ when it comes to people data and a shared understanding and appreciation of the positive impact people data can have on business outcomes.”

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