Research reveals huge rise in people analytics teams as HR is called on to take an increasingly strategic role in shaping business performance

Wednesday 24th July 2019, London: Innovation generation: the big HR tech disconnect 2019/20 report, a research report released today by Thomsons Online Benefits, shows a dramatic uplift in the number of global organizations building people analytics teams – rising from 15% to 68% in just three years. In the US alone, more than a fifth (21%) of organizations have had dedicated people analytics capabilities for more than a year, followed by having 17% for more than three years.

With tech talent in short supply, the survey of more than 380 HR decision makers from global organizations suggests that employers are looking to upskill existing HR team members to make sense of people data, which is increasingly accessible.

  • 35% of those surveyed have upskilled existing HR team members – over a third higher than those who have hired in external talent (21%)
  • 32% plan to upskill HR team members over the next 12 months, compared to 17% who plan to hire in external talent

Matthew Jackson, VP Client Solutions at Thomsons, comments: “There’s a common misconception that digitalization and increasing automation will lead to job losses. Our research indicates that when it comes to HR, this simply isn’t the case – at least not in the near to mid-term. Instead, we will see an evolution of skills as businesses increasingly look to HR teams to supply data-based insights that can play a real role in measuring and informing people strategy.”

The advantages of drawing on people data

Over 85% of global employers surveyed currently use or plan to use employee data to report on business operations and performance.

And those employers who do so are seeing significant results:

  • 64% have used people data insights to improve employee engagement
  • Almost half (47%) have improved employee productivity
  • 59% have improved their benefits program by looking at employees’ interactions with their benefits platform

Lisa Morrow, Global Benefits Program Managers, at NetApp said: “We’re only just starting to tap into the potential that people data in the modern workplace offers. There’s huge potential for us as HR professionals to make a tangible business impact by harnessing this information, but it’s essential that our teams have the skills needed to interpret data and provide insights in a way that is useful to business leaders. The more we develop our understanding of people analytics, the more we’ll be able to contribute at the boardroom level, offering expertise that can feed into business strategy and encourage greater productivity and company loyalty among employees.”

The disadvantages of data disconnect

Among those organizations not using or planning to use employee data to report on business operations, 31% cite a lack of data literacy in the HR function as the primary barrier, alongside poor-quality data (31%).

Increasing availability of data driving change

However, with organizations set to increase the amount and variety of people data that they gather, data illiteracy won’t remain an option for long:

  • Currently, 56% of employers collect employee benefits data on benefits take-up and engagement, but this figure is set to skyrocket to 97% in the next three years
  • 39% of companies collect data generated from building sensors, on employees’ footfall or desk time for example, but 83% are likely to do this by 2022
  • When it comes to wearables, only 33% of global employers collect data from these, but this will soar to 81% within three years

Matthew Jackson continues: “At present, having people analytics skills within the HR function is optional – but soon they will be imperative. The significant budgets that HR teams are handling are simply too large not to track, and the potential for better, data-led decision making is too big to ignore.”

About the research

Innovation generation: the big HR tech disconnect 2019/20 report, surveyed over 380 HR professionals in multinational organizations with global responsibilities in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific, the Caribbean and Oceania.