Published: May 16, 2019

I know, I know. The words “quick,” “painless,” and “predictive analytics” don’t often show up in the same sentence. It’s okay though – I promise we’ll get there. How do I know? Because we’re going to take a step back from all the details around what predictive analytics is and instead focus on how predictive analytics for HR can make a difference. 

See the thing is, especially in as people-centric an area as HR, when we talk about predictive analytics we’ve got to resist the urge to dive into process and instead focus on goals that will make a positive difference for both our organization and its employees. The good news is there’s so much more opportunity to move the conversation in this direction now thanks to the innovations happening in HR technology. A strong, unified HCM platform can help manage the process side for you, freeing you up to think about what the most valuable uses for predictive HR analytics are at your organization.

With that in mind, let’s focus on three tips to help you keep complexity in check and keep it real as you start exploring predictive analytics for your people processes.

Woman looking ahead - analytics tips to help HR look ahead concept

1. Drive toward specific decisions

Something that’s important to remember is that no matter how good it gets, predictive analytics is never going to make a decision for you. It’s just going to show you what’s likely to happen based on the information it’s looking at. That’s why you’ve got to think about the kinds of decisions you want to make based on the predictions you get.

I mean think about it – Deloitte warned us two years ago that while 71 percent of companies rated people analytics as a high priority, only 8 percent of them reported having actual usable data. And since then things have only gotten more complicated with AI technology and other more sophisticated analytics tools becoming more mainstream. It’s hard to keep focus in this kind of ever-shifting landscape, but that makes it even more important.

All this is to say that above all, you’ve got to think about what workforce trends matter to you. What words do you use to talk about the issues facing your organization and its people? What’s your current go-to process for acting on key priorities? What kinds of things would you like to proactively address on a regular basis? Once you answer questions like these, you’ll be able to figure out what to tackle with your predictive analytics strategy for HR and start getting ahead of core concerns like turnover, performance management, absence, recruiting, and many more. It’s all about setting up your data in a way that actually means something to you – that way when you see it your path forward will be clear.

2. Make it visual and actionable

User experience is something that’s important across all areas of human capital management, but it’s particularly vital for predictive analytics. After you choose what decisions you want to focus on, think about how to build the forecasts and projected trends that are important to your organization into visual displays that make them easy for you and your key stakeholders to interpret. For example, if you’re looking at something like performance or succession planning, think about how to associate that information visually with the teams or employees it pertains to.

Why do these visual connections matter? It’s simple – they allow quick action. You can quickly identify what’s happening now and what’s predicted to happen rather than sorting through line after line in a spreadsheet or working through a complex equation. Let your HCM system take the burden of the calculation for you and instead focus on presenting your predictive analytics results in ways that make clear what should be done about them.

3. Give it context

This point follows closely behind the last one. As I think I’ve made clear by now, predictive analytics like any other form of people analytics can be overwhelming. There are so many possible areas for HR professionals, managers, and employees to investigate. That’s why you’ve got to narrow the view for different stakeholders in your organization so they can look at only the facts that make a difference for them. A manager doesn’t need to see overall turnover trends for the entire organization. They need to understand what the likelihood is of different members on their team leaving so they can take steps to prevent that. Thinking about these specific needs as you map your predictive analytics approach will ensure the project pays dividends.

This is just the start

Predictive analytics for HR, payroll, and other key areas of your organization is just one small part of building a strong people analytics strategy, but it opens the door to a lot of further innovations. Once you understand how to tie your goals to specific workforce trends, you’ll be able to pursue further analytics and process innovations proactively and build an HR strategy that measures up to the most modern organizations out there.