Executing your HR Analytics Project - Step by Step (Steps 3-6)

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Today, we continue to look at our 8-step plan for executing your HR Analytics project.  Last week we covered Steps 1 & 2 of executing your HR Analytics project – that of getting real with your corporate, line of business and HR objectives, and situating your chosen project within this context.

Now it’s time to define the project in more detail - and execute. It’s time to define your metrics and this covers steps 3-6. 

1) Read & Understand your business plans

2) Scope out your DDHR (data-driven HR) project

3) Define your primary metric

4) Define your secondary and supporting metrics

5) Articulate the ‘What’

6) Articulate the ‘Why’ behind the ‘What’

7) Drive Decisions, Case for Change, Targets & Change Plans

8) Implement, Measure Success, Stabilize & Realize Value

Let's dig in. 

3) Define Your Primary Metric

You need to define something we call a Primary Metric which captures the essence of what your project is focused on accomplishing. When defining the Primary Metric, it's advised to be as specific, and detailed as possible - as this is the foundation of all subsequent steps.

You may however decide, at this point in time, to keep this directional in nature (i.e. decrease or increase) and not get into specific targets. This is all good.  Targets can be estimated/set in a subsequent stage when you have access to hard data. 

Here's an example:

  • "Decrease Turnover of our Top Performers (Rated Outstanding & Exceptional) in their First Year of Tenure in the Sales Department"

Ensure you define the nuances of your Metric such as... do you mean First Year in the company, or First Year in Sales? Do you count a top performing employee who spent 3 years in Marketing, then transferred to Sales and then left the company 9 months into their Sales role?

Quantify (state the current facts regarding) your Primary Metric in terms of both rate and magnitude:

  • In 2016 our Top Performer Turnover Rate for those employees in their First Year of Tenure in the Sales Department was 23%
  • In 2016, this represented 17 EEs departing on a total segment of 77 EEs

To achieve a comprehensive understanding, your Primary Metric needs to be looked at from many lenses - this means slicing and dicing your data across the data dimensions which are available to you. If you are fortunate to have powerful workforce analytics or BI tool, this will be simple. If you are calculating in a spreadsheet, this will be more challenging so be prepared to dig in and spend some serious time on this.

The next step is to:

4) Define Your Secondary or Supporting Metrics

Your Secondary or Supporting Metrics are the additional data dimensions and segmentation which may be important to your analysis. The extent of these Secondary Metrics and segmentation is really up to you - but in our experience, this is where the most insightful observations and storylines can come from. 

For example: Segment and slice your data so you can understand if there are any anomalies based on demographics, location, manager, manager's attendance at a People Manager training course, recruitment channel, onboarding survey results and engagement, amongst other things.

You’re only limited by the data you have access to and your ability to connect it. Again, if you’re working with a people analytics partner or use a powerful BI tool this will be relatively easy. If you don’t and you’re dealing with spreadsheets and disconnected systems, roll up your sleeves and tuck in… you’ll need time and some analytics expertise on your side.


5) Make Quantitative Observations - Articulate "the What"

Using your Secondary Metrics, continue segmenting and analyzing your data, making observations focused on anomalies (outliers in your data, hotspots where acceptable thresholds are exceeded, or where the sheer mass/magnitude of an issue can represent an opportunity, or lack thereof).


6) Articulate “the Why Behind the What"

At this point, you'll have a collection of facts compiled about Top Performer Turnover in Sales, for employees in their First Year of Tenure. 

Armed with this multidimensional and segmented analysis, you must dig deeper into the storylines, understand the context in which they occurred, and ask "why" to those who are best positioned to articulate logical reasons and hypotheses.

This is qualitative understanding. 

This can be accomplished through a variety of techniques. For example, you may choose to run some focus groups with other Top Performers in Sales, those who are in their second year of tenure who can shed some light on the experience, you may want to implement or harvest data from your Onboarding Experience Survey, you may want to have small group conference calls, 1 on 1s or water cooler/off the record conversations with Managers, etc. Whatever the approach, this is focused on getting to the lived experiences of those involved, bringing the numbers to life and providing the context.

The objective here is to spend some time digging deep so you can balance your facts with context, and be prepared to tell the story in a more complete fashion, with as much texture as possible.


Stay tuned next week when we wrap up our 8-steps with a discussion of Decsion-Making, Change and Value derived from your project. 

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