As the modern-business landscape continues to take shape, the voice of HR is growing in strength and has in recent years become a critical viewpoint in business strategy conversations. says Duncan Casemore.

However, to hold onto that seat at the table, HR leaders need easier access to people data in order to make contributions that support data-driven decision making.

So far, this has proven to be a challenge. According to research published by McKinsey, 90 percent of businesses consider analytics as a core component of HR strategy, but only 42 percent currently have a data-driven HR function.

The answer? Using people analytics with readily accessible data to generate insights that can be used to maximise efficiencies across the organisation.


Enabling an HR function driven by People Analytics involves underpinning all HR interactions and processes throughout the employee experience from hire to retire with extractable data. By doing so, HR teams can gain a detailed understanding of their workforce, including their engagement levels and growth potential; identifying skills gaps and opportunities for the future.

There are traditionally four key pillars of people analytics: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive:

  1. Descriptive analytics: Leveraging past data to make informed decisions for the future. Identifying trends and patterns that can guide future actions.
  2. Diagnostic analytics: This field focuses on analysing data to establish the root cause of a problem, such as: ‘Why are no employees utilising our expensive benefits scheme?’ Only to find out that employees don’t know it exists or where to look for it. The insights gained from diagnostic analytics help in devising effective solutions for improvements
  3. Predictive analytics: The field employs statistical analysis and probability to forecast future developments and potential issues. By analysing historical data, predictive analytics enables organisations to anticipate future trends and prioritise actions for maximising success. Recently we’ve seen next-gen AI playing an important role in predictive analytics.
  4. Prescriptive analytics: Building upon the outputs of the other three approaches, prescriptive analytics suggests solutions and recommendations. It leverages data-driven insights to provide guidance on the best course to action, considering various factors and objectives.

By launching a people analytics strategy that encompasses all four pillars, organisations reap the rewards of huge cost savings throughout the workforce (efficiency gains, productivity improvements, reduced attrition and high employee engagement) which during a period of economic downturn is more critical than ever. Many businesses will not have the technological maturity to approach all four pillars, nor would it be a business priority to launch a large-scale project enabling them to do so. However, to witness the transformative potential of people analytics in the workplace, HR leaders should be considering baselining their current levels of people analytics capability and looking at building a roadmap to achieve a more ambitious vision that is interwoven through the entire employee experience.

Employee Lifecycle

From the moment a candidate applies to join a company, an opportunity is presented to capture data that can shape and personalise their experience and improve that journey for future employees. For instance, by measuring the ease of the application process, ratings of the recruitment process and how many candidates accept offers of employment vs decline; this information can be fed back and used to make continual improvements. HR teams can gain insights which help them attract better talent, secure the highest quality candidates and continue making enhancements.

After an employees joins a company, data can be used to measure the value, impact and cost-effectiveness of learning and development initiatives. This involves identifying skills gaps, determining suitable L&D approaches to address those gaps, and understanding what engages and benefits learners. Whether employees are new or have been with the business for several years, analysing behaviour patterns can support HR teams to better understand how to best support them and others within an organisation effectively. Often enabling employees to stay and grow their career, becoming eligible for promotion opportunities and internal moves rather than looking elsewhere when they’re journey becomes stagnated.

DEIB Gains

The key to fostering positive employee sentiment is ensuring that individuals feel included and welcomed in the work environment, regardless of their individual circumstances. It is crucial for HR teams to track and analyse the elements of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) within the employee experience. According to McKinsey, DEIB ranks among the top three areas where people analytics adds the most value for the majority of companies.

In practice, achieving this can be accomplished by analysing demographic data, performance metrics, and other relevant factors. HR teams can then identify potential biases in their processes, implement corrective measures and create a more inclusive work environment for all employees.

This aspect holds significant importance in terms of protecting employees, as companies can identify areas of risk and take action to ensure all employees feel fairly represented and valued.

Beginning the Journey

So, where should an HR teams start? People analytics opens up possibilities, but it can be challenging to determine the initial path to take. Before diving into people analytics initiatives, HR leaders should ask themselves some key questions to identify where the data could have the most impact:

  • What do we want to analyse and why? To have the most impact, HR leaders need to focus on the data directly relevant to the company’s current top three objectives.
  • Where can we find the key information? Identify the sources of informative data available.
  • What does that data tell us? Using data analytics tools can help identify trends and information that can provide valuable insights into an organisation’s people processes.
  • Who will benefit from these insights? HR leaders need to identify relevant stakeholders, such as the C-Suite, who would be able to align these findings with organisational objectives and use them to make more informed decisions.
  • How can we use that data to drive strategy? Use the insights derived from the analytics to develop strategies based on this newfound knowledge.
  • How can we keep improving? Monitor and measure the effectiveness of these new analytics-driven interventions, and continually iterate and refine strategies over time.

In this era of dispersed and digital work, understanding an organisation’s workforce and their needs has become more crucial than ever. People analytics plays an invaluable role in maintaining a personalised employee experience that contributes to organisational success. By capturing data and leveraging data effectively across all people processes, HR teams can drive tangible improvements in talent acquisition, employee engagement, performance and productivity.


By Duncan Casemore, CTO and Co-Founder of Applaud.