Demystifying People Analytics – Part 4: Examples of People Analytics Projects

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Previously in the ‘Demystifying People Analytics’ series I’ve written about where the team should sit (Part I), the skills and capabilities required to do people analytics (Part II) and the vital role of storytelling (Part III).


This time I’m going to provide examples of people analytics projects companies have undertaken to help drive both business and employee outcomes.


The five example projects outlined are spread across the employee lifecycle (workforce planning, talent acquisition, engagement, retention and compliance). Whilst the projects themselves are different, what they share in common is that they were all undertaken to help solve business challenges that were high priority for the organisations concerned.


Two examples (Cisco and Shell) were presented at HR Tech World in Paris last October. I am proud to once again be moderating the Smart Data breakout at the forthcoming HR Tech World in London on 21-22 March, and would urge all those interested or involved in people analytics to attend. Presenters from the likes of Adidas, ING, EY, Merck and Quintiles will be outlining the people analytics journeys at their respective companies.


Cisco – Workforce planning / personalised employee career development

Cisco’s Talent Cloud, which was presented by Ian Bailie at HR Tech World in Paris (see Slideshare) and described in this article by Jill Larsen, has both an employee and business focus. It provides employees with the tools and insights to create personalised work experiences through creating their own personal profile, adding their skills and competencies, and assessing these skills against roles. This helps employees determine suitable career paths within Cisco as well as highlighting learning opportunities that will help them accomplish their goals. Managers can also assess the skills of their team members and identify development opportunities for individual employees to explore. In summary, the Talent Cloud creates transparency for the organisation into employee skills and experience so that leaders can do agile talent planning and Cisco’s employees can take control and initiative with their careers. This is a great example of how data and analytics can create next generation HR technologies that are both personalised for employees whilst offering significant benefit to the business.


LinkedIn – Talent acquisition / Scaling the organisation

Rapid growth is invariably a challenge for the organisation and the recruiters tasked with hiring candidates at the pace required to keep up with demand. This was certainly the case at LinkedIn, as described in this case study by Rebecca White. When Rebecca and her Talent Analytics team were brought in, LinkedIn was growing at 40% every year and the talent acquisition team was struggling to forecast with any degree of accuracy the number of hires and the resources needed to fulfil this demand. By using analytics, Rebecca and the team were able to bring visibility and accountability into the process, so much so that after just one year LinkedIn was able to predict hires within 5% of actuals. This meant that the talent acquisition team was suitably resourced, the hiring demands of the business were met and by predicting so accurately, the analytics team saved the company 15% of its recruiting budget in the first year.


ISS – Engagement linked to business performance

ISS, one of the largest facilities companies in the world with over 510,000 employees, wanted to understand whether they could improve customer experience (and thereby increase profits) through higher employee engagement. The project sought to i) analyse the strength of the link between employee engagement, customer satisfaction and profitability, and; ii) use data to identify the HR processes to adjust that would have the biggest impact on improving employee engagement. The findings of the project showed a strong correlation between employee engagement and customer experience, with key drivers identified with regards to motivation, service quality, knowledge and responsiveness of service staff. Additionally, ISS also found a close link between high customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) and contract profitability. The project led to ISS initiating changes to training programs for supervisors and employees as well as on- boarding programs. The full scope, findings and resulting actions of the project are documented in this superb white paper, which was compiled by Morten Kamp Andersen of Proacteur in partnership with Simon Svegaard and Peter Ankerstjerne of ISS.


IBM and Nielsen – Retention of critical talent

There are a lot of case studies on how organisations have used analytics to improve retention and this is where many fledgling people analytics teams get started because i) attrition is a problem for many companies, and ii) it is relatively easy to create a business case and demonstrate ROI. Two excellent examples in this area come from IBM and Nielsen. IBM’s Proactive Retention program not only predicts which employees are likely to leave the organisation but also advises the most suitable preventative action to mitigate this risk. The program has created a net benefit of $270m since its inception (see more here). Meanwhile, Nielsen’s People Analytics team calculated that a single percentage point of attrition represented a $5m cost to the company. This helped the team get the management support required to implement the lateral move program described in this video (which, incidentally is an excellent example of how to tell a story with data).


Shell – Compliance / Cybersecurity

This case study (see Slideshare) was presented by Vasilis Giagkoulas and Ben Hawkes at HR Tech World in Paris last October. As with, many large global organisations, cyber security incidents are a significant risk for Shell. The People Analytics team sought to understand if there were certain people characteristics that could predict the likelihood of an employee causing a phishing incident or downloading a virus. Shell’s team found correlations linked to tenure, skill and assignment types. This insight allowed Shell to create a targeted cyber security training program for 30% of employees to successfully address more than 50% of potential cyber security issues. Benefits included reducing the risk of security threats to the organisation, freeing up time for their IT department from fixing laptops, lower costs through targeting training only at those employees most likely to breach cyber security and improving the productivity of low-risk employees who did not therefore have to complete the training. For more on Shell’s people analytics journey and this project, please also read this interview with Esther Bongenaar and Vasilis.



If you are interested in reading more people analytics case studies, please see here, here, here and here. Likewise, if you would like to learn more about the possibilities of people analytics, how to get started or understand best practice from organisations that have been successful in this space, please click on the links below.




About the author

David is moderating the Smart Data track at HR Tech World in London in March and is a long-term member of the Blog Squad. He is a respected influencer, writer and speaker on people analytics, data driven HR and the future of work. He was recognised as Best Writer at the 2015 HR Tech Writers’ Awards, and was awarded one of ten LinkedIn Power Profiles for HR in 2016.  David’s role as Global Director, People Analytics Solutions at IBM enables him to help clients apply an analytical, insight led and business outcome focused approach to their talent strategies and people decisions. Connect with David on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter and read his blogs on LinkedIn, ERE and HRN.



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