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The Employee Experience Platform | Culture Amp
The 2024 people analytics and AI landscape
Lyssa test – Culture Amp writer

Lyssa Test

Writer, Culture Amp

With the help of AI, people analytics has revolutionized how businesses process data. AI enables the analysis of vast quantities of information and the integration of data sets from across the organization, empowering HR teams to be more predictive and proactive. This technology-driven shift is helping businesses build better employee experiences and achieve stronger workplace outcomes. A win-win!

To discuss the impact technology and data are having on HR and people analytics teams, Stacia Garr, Co-founder and Principal Analyst at Red Thread Research, sat down with Culture Amp’s own Chief People Officer Justin Angsuwat at Culture First Global 2024. Their session, Analytics redefined: The transformative potential of data and people analytics in HR, covered just how modern businesses need to rethink, redefine, and revolutionize the role of people analytics in HR.

Here’s an excerpt from their conversation:

The power of modern people analytics

Companies have so much data at their disposal that it can be overwhelming. Yet, thanks to AI, analyzing vast data sets to identify actionable insights has never been more achievable – even for self-proclaimed data novices.

“Many HR folks are not as data literate as they or their organization would prefer them to be, but what’s amazing about this technology is its increasing ability to translate information and data into natural language for folks with different levels of data maturity. That’s going to make data more accessible and data-driven decision-making much easier,” says Stacia.

This access to data and insights couldn’t come at a better time. Managing economic uncertainty, geopolitical and social unrest, technological advancements, generational workplace shifts, and more has been challenging for businesses and their employees. But don't worry — when navigating unfamiliar terrain, data is a valuable compass.

“While [today’s challenges] can feel like uncharted territory, data can help bring us toward understanding. Listening to employees and thinking about how your organization can meet their needs in a way that aligns with your principles and values is a really important thing. Right now it feels like there's just so much coming at us that it's hard to know how to respond, but people analytics and data can help us navigate this uncertain time,” shares Stacia.

Just how can HR teams use their people data to drive better business outcomes? Justin points out that even just a few years ago, it would have been resource- and time-intensive to review large data sets like the performance reviews, quota attainment, promotion trajectory, and skills of every salesperson in an organization. Today, AI can do this very quickly, spitting out concise, actionable insights – identifying the most common skills and characteristics of the organization’s top salespeople, for example.

“Now that this is possible, businesses can build these skills in a really targeted way. The predictive analytics part of this is forecasting when we expect high attrition levels for high-performing salespeople, knowing what will drive that attrition, and knowing which skills you need to hire for to best predict a high-performing salesperson,” states Justin.

With these insights, businesses can invest in developing these skills amongst their current employees and look for applicants who possess such characteristics during hiring. While attrition is a natural part of any business, AI-powered insights can help businesses anticipate headcount losses, upskill existing employees, hire top candidates, and meet their goals efficiently and effectively.

The future of HR: Actionable insights

One of the biggest pitfalls modern HR teams make? Obsessing over charts and dashboards. While data is valuable, Stacia reminds HR professionals that internal stakeholders don’t care about fancy data visualizations. They care about insights.

“HR and people analytics teams often believe that people care about reports. I'm sorry. They don't don't care about your dashboards. What they care about is the insight and what to do with it to drive action. Let's focus on not just measuring but enabling action in the moment,” she urges.

According to Justin, actionable insights are the future of HR. They’re transforming HR from a reactive department to a proactive one. “People often look at attrition data and cut it dozens of different ways. While that's totally fine and reasonable, it's also backward-looking, looking at people who have already left the organization,” explains Justin. “Now, we have the ability to look forward. We can predict attrition factors and use analytics to surface which groups of people need your help and attention in the present so we can do something about it,” he adds.

He offers an example: A Culture Amp analysis of its own workforce revealed that high-performing women in engineering were two to three times more likely to leave the company than high performers in other departments. By analyzing dozens of variables like performance, gender, function, level, geography, leadership, and more, Justin and his team were able to determine what was driving attrition for this specific subset of employees: a lack of development opportunities.

“Instead of spending more time getting more data and producing more reports, we focused on taking action in a few targeted areas, quickly concentrating our resources there and tracking the impact of our initiatives on attrition before it happens.”

— Justin AngsuwatChief People Officer at Culture Amp

For him, the real advantage of people analytics was its ability to empower his team to take immediate action and help improve life at Culture Amp for the company’s current female engineers. “The power of insights is not looking at this spike in attrition data in the rearview mirror cut a dozen different ways, but making sure it never happens to begin with. It's a journey that all of us as HR leaders are on,” he states.

AI limitations and responsible use

Don’t worry about AI taking your job just yet. While the technology has come a long way, companies must proceed with caution and acknowledge its limitations—especially when dealing with sensitive employee and personal data.

“Responsible AI is really important, especially when we're dealing with human outcomes, in terms of privacy, trust, control, and also accuracy. It's not as easy as grabbing a whole bunch of people data, slapping everything into ChatGPT or even your own private generative AI instance, and hope it's gonna work,” reminds Justin.

Instead, he urges HR professionals to be wary of “HR hallucinations,” where an AI model generates incorrect information or identifies nonexistent patterns and presents them as facts. Some companies testing AI in the HR space have encountered these hallucinations and thankfully caught them before taking action, especially since taking action on misleading, inaccurate data could lead to highly disruptive outcomes.

How can companies use AI responsibly? Use it thoughtfully.

“After knowing what can go wrong in this space, I'd encourage HR leaders to carefully think about just simply picking up and throwing large data sets into AI and relying too much on that answer without some type of human review or intervention. I think AI is going to do an amazing job at augmenting HR, but it's not going to replace it at this point,” shares Justin.

Redefine people analytics with Culture Amp

If you’re looking to learn more about people analytics, AI, and other trending HR topics, check out other on-demand sessions from Culture Amp’s Culture First Global 2024 free virtual conference. Or, if you want to hear more from Stacia and Justin, you can watch their full conversation anytime.

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