People Analytics: Challenge your assumptions

People Analytics: Challenge your assumptions

11.05.2018 By Ulrike.Williams

If you work in HR, you’ll understand that making decisions about people is a complex task. It’s not always easy to be objective, and often we’d like to have more supporting evidence and minimize the risk of making biased decisions. That’s where People Analytics provides a fantastic opportunity. We can bring in data to give us a helping hand.

By Jonathan Rasmus, Consultant Cubiks Finland

There’s a good reason everyone’s talking about People Analytics. Bringing in data and statistics will improve how we do talent management. We can be fairer, promote diversity and inclusion, make informed choices, and predict what’s coming next. Sadly, analytics is still an underutilised resource within HR. There are a number of reasons for this, which we’ve explored in previous articles.
I’m not going to go over the obstacles to deploying analytics here. What I want to do is to share some thoughts on how People Analytics enables you to explore the efficacy of your work, challenge your assumptions, develop your expertise and ultimately achieve better results.

Here’s why People Analytics will help you do your job better

People Analytics is all about studying people related data to add insights to HR practice, and when measuring the psychological aspects of people, psychometrics expertise is essential. Without keeping this human focus, we run the risk of analytics turning people into mere numbers, which in turn alienates them and damages trust. For Analytics to bring the most value, you need to understand the human behaviour behind the data, and understand how to achieve a balance between applying science and adding the human touch.


Noticing our assumptions

That’s the key combination to ensure what we do in talent management is fair and effective. For instance, at Cubiks, we train HR experts all over the world to use psychometric assessments for selection and development. During these courses, we discuss how some employees differ from others. These conversations are fascinating, and we notice how we all make assumptions about existing similarities and differences, as well as correlative relationships. 
Many of the hypotheses discussed do in fact reflect reality. After all, they are made by experienced HR professionals. But they too are humans, and human cognition is prone to various biases (confirmation bias, availability heuristic, the list goes on). So some of the assumptions discussed turn out to be false when we then turn to the data.


Allowing the data to change our minds

In order to make the best possible decisions, it is vital to know which assumptions are accurate and which are not. It’s crucial for both our business to develop and for our own expertise to grow. There is no use in making important decisions based on false assumptions. If we have false assumptions, we can go on for years repeating the same erroneous conclusions over and over again. In the long-term, the consequences can have significant unwanted effects on our businesses. And most importantly, it’s only fair and respectful to our employees if we have data to support the decisions that affect them.  
By exploring your people data with an open mind, you can test and challenge what may have historically been assumed in your talent management processes. While you might find that many of the presuppositions were correct, there will always be huge value in finding out where the data proves otherwise.


Avoiding complacency

When we deploy people assessments, it isn’t uncommon to put a process in place and then stop paying attention to it. After all, if we’re happy with the way it works, why fix something that isn’t broken? 
The essential thing to remember here is that organisations change, people change, and the world around us changes constantly. The best selection or development processes will always need evaluating and fine tuning through time. And how do we know if they are as good as we hope, without looking into the data behind them and exploring in more depth the impact they’re having on the organisation? 


Building People Analytics into your talent management processes enables you to continuously enhance them, and make sure they’re doing the job you deployed them for. At Cubiks, we see Analytics not as a separate initiative, but as an embedded part of effective solutions for selecting and developing people. With the ability to visualise and drill into your data, the actionable intelligence you get from your assessments will be augmented, and you can be confident that as your organisation changes, your people assessments evolve to match.


With the advancement of technology, it’s becoming easier and easier for us to utilise People Analytics to support decision-making. We can have data available in an instant, just a few clicks away, visualized in interactive dashboards. We can test some of our assumptions/hypotheses as they arise. Ultimately, through People Analytics, you gain a more authentic view of your people and can make sure you’re making the best possible decisions about their futures within your workforce.

To discover how Cubiks can enhance your people solutions with Analytics, get in touch with your local Cubiks team or email info@cubiks.com and we’ll get back to you.