For Tham Weng Yip, HR Lead, Talent Management and Projects, Brenntag Asia Pacific, people analytics is about the ability to gather and combine data to tell meaningful stories and gain insights about a specific situation and about people. He shares more in this short interview with Priya Sunil.

Q What are the typical business needs which drive a firm’s people analytics model?

The needs vary, and include: boosting sales revenue; penetrating a new market; studying customer buying trends; measuring customer satisfaction levels; enhancing the current supply chain and distribution network; hiring and developing talent; succession planning; career management; reducing staff attrition; driving performance and company culture, and engaging a multigenerational workforce.

At Google, for instance, the firm’s Project Oxygen uses people analytics to uncover the practices of its best managers and provides coaching sessions for low performers. While at Dell, analytics is used to increase the success of its sales force.

At the same time, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) uses people analytics to identify the traits of great managers, and leverages that for their development. RBC also uses internal and customer data to diagnose reasons for the performing and non-performing branches, regions or product innovation.

Back home, Singapore is investing in becoming a SMART nation. The key pillars to support this are a digital economy, digital government, and digital society. Our people, our companies and our public agencies all have a role to play in this transformation by becoming a value-creating nation going forward, versus a value-adding one.

Overall, it is about the ability to gather and combine data to tell meaningful stories and gain insights about a specific situation and about people, while allowing you to plan interventions that will solve key organisational challenges and, ultimately, drive business outcomes.

Q Based on your experience across industries, what key factors form the basis of each industry’s needs?

People make things happen. It is an opportunity to create self-awareness for the organisation and employees around people analytics and what it can do for them, and, in doing so, engage them to play their part. It is also about understanding and gaining insights, for example, about people’s behaviours, forecasting trends and predicting events for better decision-making, to name some.

Understanding employees’ stories through data will enrich career conversations, by knowing their preferences, values and motivations. This is strategic in developing talent initiatives to achieve organisational goals, engaging the hearts and minds of employees, and building that ultimate employee experience that promotes the company brand.

Understanding employees’ stories through data will enrich career conversations, by knowing their preferences, values and motivations.

Q In implementing a suitable analytics model, what challenges do companies come across?

The first challenge lies in combining accurate and clean data from various systems, in order to mine valuable insights and interpretation of the employee’s behaviour and journey. Another challenge is in ensuring sound governance around how the data is processed, used and kept with compliance to the local data security and privacy policy.

In my view, the next challenge is around building understanding and commitment to change as part of the communication strategy and change management. Finally, the challenge also lies in developing the competencies and skills of the HR professionals and employees who use the data to support decision-making.

Q What advice would you give to firms looking to work on their people analytics model?

Firms intending to embark on this rewarding and exciting journey are advised to begin with a road map. Asking the right questions will lead to actionable insights, while setting a vision with clear goals provides clarity of direction about what you want to achieve. Organisations should also be able to identify the support required and assemble the team members who are passionate about analytics.

In managing the expectations and communicating the need for change, HR is presented with an opportunity to diagnose, and build understanding and commitment to change for the organisation. First, begin with one or two key initiatives that will solve key organisational challenges and witness the ROI in the journey to get buy-in, and establish credibility in the process.

Further, firms who wish to revamp their existing people analytics model are advised to look critically at what areas have worked well, what has not, and what can be stopped. The important takeaways are, overall, the rich lessons learnt as an organisation, as a team and as an individual through the experience. This will provide guidance in the road map for the next phase of your people analytics journey.

We are living in a data-driven economy. Data is now readily available, complemented by many tools being developed in the market to boost analytics capabilities and cater to the interest in big data. Progressive companies see the advantage of leveraging people data to make better decisions, managing people at work, and reaping the benefits of implementing a people analytics strategy.

This interview was published as part of a feature in Human Resources Online’s January-February 2020 edition of the Singapore magazine and will soon be published in the Q1 edition of the Malaysia magazine. Read the full story in the magazine below:

hrsg jan feb20

Photo / provided