7 Common People Analytics Challenges and How to Tackle Them

You are here:
7 Common People Analytics Challenges and How to Tackle Them

In the process of heading towards the post-pandemic era, it is great to see that People Analytics events are being held live at venues across the globe again. As it is very interesting to see how we come out of the crisis in general, I am also curious to see how People Analytics has evolved over the last two years. I think the subject has benefited from the crisis because the focus on people during the pandemic increased. What I hope to see is that we have grown when it comes to People Analytics maturity.

The bigger part of the People Analytics events is focusing on companies that still have to start with People Analytics or those who have just started. The frontrunners on the matter are the ones giving the presentations and sharing their knowledge, but if you are a frontrunner, there is not much new to learn from others. In this article, I would like to share some (personal) experiences on the challenges for organizations where People Analytics is already a bit more advanced than just getting started.

1. Employee experience
2. Reskilling and upskilling
3. Business impact
4. Making people analytics about business, not HR
5. Skills-based approach to building teams
6. Data translation and self-service
7. People Analytics team development

1. Employee experience

During the crisis, the employee experience has been more critical than ever. Faced with the lockdowns around the globe, working from home became the ‘new normal’. The physical barrier between the office and home changed overnight. The effect of that change has had a significant impact on employees.

Knowing how your employees are doing has become essential. Now that we are going back to the office, hybrid working comes into play. What will the effect be? To find that out, more and more organizations are taking employee experience surveys more seriously.

In the coming years, the development of reliable surveys and translating outcomes into actions will be a very important task for the People Analytics departments. And organizations will also send out these surveys more frequently than before. I believe organizations that take this seriously will implement a continuous listening program to make sure they get a better understanding of how their employees are working and how they feel.

Related (free) resource ahead! Continue reading below ↓

People Analytics Resource Library

Download our list of key HR Analytics resources (90+) that will help you improve your expertise and initiatives. Your one-stop-shop for People Analytics!

This will have a positive impact on employee (mental) health. It will also give your People Analytics department the chance to connect the outcomes to other subjects with business value, like absenteeism and retention.  

2. Reskilling and upskilling

The crisis has seen winners like supermarkets and delivery services. But there are also quite some losers that are struggling because of the pandemic. This has given a boost to the future of work change we were already going to face.

A lot of organizations are in the middle of a transformation to get their companies healthy again. In most cases, the main organizational objective is to increase value and productivity. This is where employee skill development is key.

Last year has been pretty intense when it comes to computer skills, for instance, because of remote working. But the future of work has already put us to the difficult transformation of future-proofing jobs.

A big challenge for People Analytics regarding skills is data. I have not seen a lot of companies yet that have their skills data at a functional level of quality. Yes, they might have the data on the training they have provided in the last couple of years. But there are not a lot of companies that have data on the level of education someone has.

I work for a 20,000-employee company, but I cannot tell how many of my colleagues went to university. And that is just the basics! Getting that data in a useful way will be top of the list of many companies in the years ahead. We could start by having our skills inventory up to date. More and more HR systems will allow you to search within that skills inventory. One of the biggest People Analytics challenges here is keeping the data up to date since your workforce will also continue to evolve and learn new skills.

People Analytics Challenges

3. Business impact

Another challenge for the more advanced People Analytics departments is getting a more sustainable impact on the company’s strategy. A lot of these departments work on PA projects. Achieving great outcomes, within most cases, requires good interventions to drive change. But the next step should be that People Analytics gets a role in determining what fact-based KPIs help the company improve and show that the company is doing what it’s supposed to do.

This also implies that HR needs a more prominent role in the company. Should you be able to get to that point, you actually have a considerable business impact. Getting to that point is surely among the key People Analytics challenges in 2022 and beyond.

4. Making People Analytics about business, not HR

Speaking of business value, the next step for People Analytics is to change from being about HR to being about the business. What I mean by that is that people are important assets that, in most cases, directly impact business outcomes. It is a business interest that these people are good at their job and work safely and in good health.

Looking at People Analytics as a business challenge is hard, especially when you are just getting started. However, even the more advanced organizations are struggling with the same thing. If you feel more advanced already, your analysis reports should be finding their way to the board room by now. That is where your impact should be focusing on the next few years: helping your decision-makers make better decisions.

5. Skills-based approach to building teams

People come to organizations with diverse skills and experiences. Understanding what combination of skills that people have results in high-performance teams in any specific department means you found the key to success. We can assume that the perfect mix of people and skills within a marketing department would be different than the mix needed for a team of engineers.

If we can really understand how these mixes work, imagine how we could help recruitment to source and select the right people and how we could help business managers in developing their teams, and increase business value.

The People Analytics teams should also be able to link research on personality types to broader issues like retention, team productivity, or absenteeism. That way, they can truly help business managers to better understand the right mix within their teams. 

6. Data translation and self-service

People Analytics departments cannot do their job on their own. They need their HR colleagues to spread the word. People Analytics departments should be focusing on investing in a fact-based culture. HR wants to be considered as a serious business partner. To achieve this, we need to combine expert knowledge with information based on facts. And only by doing so can we make a difference and keep our seat at the table. 

HR 2025
Competency Assessment

Do you have the competencies needed to remain relevant? Take the 5 minute assessment to find out!

Start Free Assessment

There is something else the People Analytics department should work on. Suppose that your fact-based campaign works out great, and more and more colleagues will use data in their work. That means that data, or better yet, information, should be available. You should be able to offer self-service information access for your colleagues in both HR and business. The basics would be dashboards, but you should also think about how you can make the outcomes of other analyses widely available as well.

Doing this successfully remains one of the major People Analytics challenges.

7. People Analytics team development

Finally, the People Analytics teams will change as well. More than ever, the People Analytics teams should be translators of data and outcomes into business language. Storytelling is a skill more difficult to find than R and Python skills. For that reason, we need to work on our storytelling.

I hope to work together more with colleagues within the company who are already more advanced in storytelling, such as Recruitment or Marketing. They are experienced in ‘selling’ the company to new coworkers and clients. The before mentioned continuous listening implies that People Analytics should know more about surveys than they do now, so that’s another point of learning they can focus on in 2022 and beyond.

A final word

I firmly believe that the coming years will bring us exciting People Analytics challenges. Let’s keep sharing the why, what, and how of our everyday work on People Analytics. That way, we can make sure that we’re able to truly add value to our organizations.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest HR news, trends, and resources.

Are you ready for the future of HR?

Learn modern and relevant HR skills, online

Browse courses Enroll now