Why Employee Analytics Are Only Part of Your Overall Talent Strategy

May 6, 2020 at 8:30 pm
Woman looking at bar charts and graphs on a large screen.

Data analytics help companies be more efficient.

Employee analytics can help identify top talent when hiring and promoting, boost employee engagement and prevent problems before they occur, but analytics can’t do all the heavy lifting in your company’s talent strategy. A comprehensive strategy for hiring and engagement needs to be part of the picture or your efforts to optimize your company’s talent will always be incomplete.

The Importance of Talent Analytics

One aspect of talent analytics looks at the characteristics of candidates and employees to see how particular traits might impact hiring success. Most successful salespeople tend to be ambitious extroverts with a lot of innate people knowledge, for instance, so people analytics during the hiring process might look for those characteristics when hiring into the sales team.

Talent analytics also looks at the results of hiring more specifically to see what your company has done in regards to hiring and how it has worked. Once an ideal candidate profile is developed and used to hire employees, their performance in a number of areas can be measured to validate the accuracy of the profile. Adjustments can be made if data doesn’t support its validity, so the profile should become even more accurate over time.

This kind of data analysis can help companies improve on previous success rates for any number of activities from posting jobs to engagement a year after hiring. An improvement occurs when analytics are used well and carefully considered. Clearly, talent analytics is a huge step beyond the recruiting process of yesteryear, but even so, talent analytics must be placed into a larger framework in order to achieve its full potential.

What Talent Analytics Can Do

The majority of business leaders all over the world—71% in a Deloitte study—say that talent analytics is important. But it seems that few of those leaders know what to do with the data they collect or feel that it helps them improve their hiring and talent optimization as much as they would like it to.

Only 9% in the same survey thought they had a good understanding of how different dimensions of talent are related to company performance, which means that all the data in the world isn’t going to do them much good. That’s because talent analytics needs to be applied to an engagement and talent strategy that is bigger than just matching up candidates to ideal profiles or even measuring how successful various hiring strategies are.

Talent strategy isn’t just about one employee in a vacuum. Unless your employees work alone and don’t interact with anyone else in the workplace (even remotely), your talent strategy will become more effective when it looks at workers’ interactions with each other in addition to individual traits and characteristics.

A Robust Talent Strategy

While talent analytics focuses on how particular employee skills and traits can benefit a company or how they match up with ideal profiles, talent strategy looks at how employees work together as a whole, studying their interactions and the group dynamics at play. Sometimes, 1+1 can equal 5 as talents mesh and multiply their effects. Sometimes, 2+2 doesn’t really lead to 4 when conflicts occur and break down the cohesion of a team or office.

Talent strategy that looks beyond data related to the individual to consider email exchanges, chats, and file transfers can begin to see how relational analytics plays an important part in a company’s success. How do the interactions between individuals and teams contribute to a greater whole, and how can the company replicate these results?

Line graph displayed on a tablet.

Talent analytics must be part of an overall strategy.

Some aspects of relational analytics can predict which team members will have innovative ideas, which will exert influence over others, and which will complete projects on time. Other aspects show innovation, silos within companies or departments, and which individuals might rely on others too much or be relied on disproportionately.

As with any type of analytics, some of the data points show positive behaviors and some more negative ones. Both are important for a business to know and understand. Most of these things are aspects of business relations that greatly concern leaders, but that they couldn’t fully dissect and get a grasp on without having data available to them.

How Data Informs Strategy

The data now available from workforce analytics can form the basis for a company’s talent strategy. Knowing what aspects of the strategy are working well and which ones need further study can lead to better hiring, better engagement, and better overall performance and profit.

A strategy is not just a one-time plan, it needs ongoing data to be fed into it in order to see where adjustments need to be made. Companies can get themselves on an upward trajectory that sustains itself over time when data is used to inform those improvements.

How Data Helps Engagement

A strategy for engagement is necessary and has many benefits for companies. Employee engagement happens when employees are carefully matched up with jobs that are well-suited to their traits and characteristics. Being well-suited to a job makes the work appropriately challenging, but not overwhelming. Employees are able to use their gifts and talents for the benefit of the company and also for their own career development.

Engagement suffers when a job is too easy or too difficult. Even the easiest jobs don’t foster engagement because workers struggle to maintain interest and focus when there’s no challenge.

Another reason engagement suffers is that management doesn’t take time to get to know workers and listen to their concerns and challenges. When workers perceive that their leaders don’t care about them or see them as valuable, they quickly develop a negative attitude that can spill over into the job.

Data helps improve engagement by creating a set of conditions or conclusions that will predict employees’ engagement levels. Data can also show where models may not be completely accurate and may need to be tested again or adjusted.

There is no real way to deal with engagement entirely through data because a personal touch is always required to connect with employees in a way that shows care and concern for their needs. Data can always be useful, however, in helping companies figure out what those needs are and how to best address them in the context of engagement.

Retention is probably one of the most important results of having an engaged workforce. It’s expensive to have high turnover, so employee engagement can actually be viewed as a money-saving strategy when it leads to better retention as measured by data.

Data Informs Talent Management

Without data, talent management can be little more than a stab in the dark at the target—overall success as a business. There are so many unknowns in the workplace that could lead to mistakes and problems with talent when data isn’t a part of the picture.

One way to get the data you need about your employees is to use cognitive and behavioral assessments before hiring and with existing employees. These assessments can help you match skills and behaviors with compatible jobs, but they can also shed light on particular needs and the way employees best function in the workplace.

Assessments provide one part of the talent analytics workplaces need to optimize talent and manage their employees in the most effective way. They can also be an ongoing source of data about ideal employee profiles and the best way to hire the right people for each position. Everything changes over time, so using assessments at regular intervals can provide better data than a one-time snapshot that freezes employees and their relationships in time and doesn’t account for any change.

Narish International can help your company build higher-performing teams.