More Enterprises Seek to Upskill HR Departments’ Analytics Skills

Woman and Analytics

Multinational employers would rather upskill their existing HR teams members to analyze workforce data and put it to use. That goal becomes increasingly realistic as more products become available to help make data and analytics accessible.

According to Innovation Generation: the Big HR tech Disconnect, a report from Thomsons Online Benefits, the number of global organizations building people analytics teams has risen dramatically over the last three years, from 15 percent to 68 percent. In the U.S. alone, 21 percent have had dedicated people analytics efforts in place for at least a year. Seventeen percent have had them for more than three years.

With talent is in such short supply, many #HR leaders don't have have many options besides expanding the analytics skills of their existing team members. #HRTech #HRTribe @ThomsonsOnline Share on X

Because technology talent is in such short supply, many HR leaders feel they don’t have many options besides expanding the skillsets of their existing HR team members. Thirty-five percent of the survey’s respondents have upskilled their current teams, compared to 21 percent who hired from outside.

Meanwhile, 32 percent plan to upskill their HR teams over the next year, while 17 percent say they’ll hire external candidates.

Thomsons Vice President of Client Solutions Matthew Jackson said the numbers indicate the need for HR professionals will continue for the near to mid-terms, despite the growing use of digitalization and automation. Instead of job losses, he expects to see “an evolution of skills” as companies look to HR to analyze data and provide insights “that can play a real role in measuring and informing people strategy.”

Lisa Morrow, global benefits program manager at NetApp, told Thomsons that HR professionals have a “huge” opportunity to make real business impacts by using data, “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 HR develops its expertise in people analytics, she said, “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.”

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A Surge in Analytics

Companies who either don’t use or don’t plan to use workforce data say they either have an HR function that lacks data literacy or have poor-quality data. However, Thomsons—and few other observers, for that matter—expect that kind of status quo to last much longer.

The survey bears this out. Among other things, it found that:

  • The percentage of employers collecting data on benefits take-up and engagement will rise from 56 percent today to 97 percent over the next three years.
  • Just more than a third (39 percent) use building sensors to collect data on, for example, employees’ footfall or desk time, but 8 percent are likely to do so by 2022.
  • A third of global employers collect data from wearables, but 81 percent will within three years.

All this leads Jackson to believe having people analytics skills within the HR function will soon be “imperative.” Global HR departments handle significant budgets, he pointed out, “and the potential for better, data-led decision making is too big to ignore.”

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