The 27 Best HR Analytics Articles of 2016

July 11, 2016 – Can you believe we are already six months into 2016? The first half of my year has seen me speaking at and chairing people analytics conferences in San Francisco, Amsterdam, London, Sydney and New York. My travels have confirmed that: i) some great work is being done in the people analytics space, ii) interest in the subject has risen sharply, and; iii) (dare I say it) adoption levels are also increasing. Long may all three indicators continue to move in an upwards trajectory.

The first half of 2016 has also seen a wealth of fabulous articles published. As such, I hope this collection of some of the best proves an invaluable resource for colleagues working in the space and those interested in learning more. As ever it features contributions from practitioners, vendors, analysts, influencers and commentators on the people analytics space. Enjoy and do let me know in the comments section, any articles I may have missed.

In no particular order…

1. Josh Bersin – People Analytics Market Growth: 10 Things You Need to Know 

The world’s premier analyst on all things HR gives his latest observations on the field of people analytics. The headline finding is that “our research shows tremendous growth in this market, and a significant shift away from measuring HR toward a real focus on using people data to understand and predict business performance”. Josh then outlines ten elements driving this growth. In my view, this is a great analysis of many of the factors I am also seeing in this space.

Figure 1: Progress in People Analytics – Bersin by Deloitte

2. Scott A Scanlon – Data Driven CHROs in demand as role shifts in complexity 

This article summarises the findings of a study by Visier on the changing role of the CHRO. Interestingly, the survey of corporate executives found that the most sought-after CHRO is a data-driven, strategic leader who demonstrates business savvy, creativity, and innovation. This not only bodes well for the future growth of people analytics but also suggests a potential career path for the ambitious head of people analytics to the top job in HR.

3. Luk Smeyers & Mark Berry – 8 things Mark Berry can teach you about HR Analytics

Mark Berry is a compelling speaker, passionate writer and a torchbearer as a CHRO who is passionate about people analytics – believing that executed correctly it can be the “GPS of HR”. In this fascinating interview with Luk Smeyers on the iNostix blog, Mark answers with typical candour a series of questions on people analytics.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 5.42.08 PM

Mark Berry speaking at the Tucana People Analytics Conference in London in April 2016

4. Peter Fasolo – J&J CHRO: The Analytics of Talent

Like Mark Berry, Laszlo Bock and Diane Gherson; Peter Fasolo, CHRO of Johnson & Johnson, is the epitome of the data driven CHRO. This fascinating interview with Fasolo describes how he has harnessed analytics to enable the business to make better decisions with regards to workforce planning, mobility, recruiting, performance management and leadership. There are some great insights such as the importance of asking the right questions and prioritising the measurement of outcomes over activity. A must-read.

5. Jonathan Ferrar – The role of storytelling in workforce analytics

Storytelling is the last mile problem in analytics. Fail to develop a compelling story for your stakeholder and even great insights and analysis will be for nothing. In this article, Jonathan highlights a recent study by SHRM that reveals this is a skill lacking in many HR analytics efforts. He then recounts an excellent example of powerful storytelling from the aforementioned Mark Berry. Jonathan is co-writing a book (pre-order here) on people analytics, which is out later in 2016 and will feature a whole chapter on storytelling. Can’t wait.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 5.42.55 PM

Figure 2 – The Three Principles of Storytelling with Data – from The Power of People book by Jonathan Ferrar, Nigel Guenole & Sheri Feinzig

6. Prasad Setty – The science of storytelling

Continuing with the storytelling theme, this short video features Prasad Setty, VP People Analytics and Compensation at Google. In it, Prasad distils effective communication into three key points that matter: what you want your audience to know, how you want them to feel, and what you want them to do. The basis for better storytelling in analytics starts here.

7. Adam Grant / The Washington Post – Why this Wharton wunderkind wants leaders to replace their intuition with evidence

Every movement needs its poster boy (or girl) and Adam Grant – author, Professor of Management and Psychology and convenor of the top-rated Wharton People Analytics Conference, arguably fulfils that role in the field of people analytics. This fascinating interview with Adam in The Washington Post gets to the nub of his mission to “get more leaders to stop acting on intuition and experience — and instead be data-driven”, as well as providing several examples of the great work we do as people analysts.

8. Ryan Fuller – The Paradox of Workplace Productivity

Despite the huge technological advances of the Internet age, most major developed economies have a paradoxical productivity problem. In this Harvard Business Review article, Ryan Fuller, CEO and co-founder of people analytics company VoloMetrix (acquired by Microsoft in 2015), contends that we are focusing on the wrong kind of productivity. He then outlines a fascinating case study where the insights offered through analytics enabled one organisation to identify and then solve one significant productivity problem.

9. Manoj Kumar – Why investors/CEOs are not yet talking about Human Capital performance as much as they do about financial capital

Manoj Kumar, Head of the HR Analytics CoE at HSBC, raises a series of important points in this excellent article about getting investors and CEOs more excited about human capital performance. One that really resonates with me is the need for a detailed and relevant human capital statement within the Annual Report. Not only would this raise the profile of HR but also increase the intensity for the function to have strong business acumen and analytical skills, which would be much welcomed.

10. Tracey Smith – The first three skills HR needs to learn from outside HR

For many organisations, gaining proficiency in people analytics is not only difficult but something that requires nothing short of a mindset change for HR. There are many skills that HR functions in the majority of companies need to learn. Tracey Smith, one of my favourite writers in the space, suggests three in this great article: basic financial knowledge, project management and business acumen.

11. Luk Smeyers – Why HR Analytics must report to the CHRO

Too many HR Analytics functions are hidden away within organisations limiting the work they do and the impact they can have. Luk Smeyers, Co-Founder at iNostix by Deloitte, agrees. In this superb article on the HRN blog, as well as decrying the lack of analytical acumen from CHROs, Luk makes an impassioned plea for CHROs to work closely with their HR Analytics leader arguing that this is how HR can have a demonstrable impact on business results. I wholeheartedly agree.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 5.45.08 PM

12. Morten Kamp Andersen – Six must-have competencies in a world-class analytics team

Constructing a team with all of the skills required to do analytics is a challenge, not least because these are diverse and seldom found in one or two people only. This illuminating article by Morten Kamp Andersen, one of the leading lights in the field, not only outlines the six key skill areas Morten believes are required but also examines what happens when just one of those skills is missing.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 5.45.39 PM

Figure 3 – A Superhero workforce analytics team must – Morten Kamp Andersen

13. Patrick Coolen – The human factor in HR Analytics

Patrick has built one of the most admired people analytics functions in the world at ABN AMRO. In this revealing article, he submits that organisations are forgetting the human factor if they are not applying analytics as he touches on aspects including collecting appropriate and relevant data, creating and using insights and overcoming bias.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 5.46.18 PM

(Right to left) Patrick Coolen, Luk Smeyers and me after our panel on People Analytics at the Beyond HR Leadership Forum in Amsterdam in June 2016

14. Andrew Marritt – Engagement: Part 1 – Issues with the traditional approach; and Part 2 – Employee feedback and engagement – The Future

Andrew is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the twin subjects of engagement and people analytics with the former increasingly becoming underpinned by the latter. The world of engagement is in the midst of rapid change (and not before time). In the first of these two articles, Andrew examines the limitations of the traditional annual engagement survey before in the part two, providing an analysis of what the future holds.

15. Alec Levenson – I solemnly swear…an HR data and analytics manifesto

This is a really enjoyable, impassioned and compelling article by the economist, author and academic Alec Levenson. His manifesto is aimed at those leading or espousing to lead people analytics teams. There is much to learn from the ten points (or should that be commandments!) including: diagnosis before action, not making decisions based solely on benchmark data and the need to work together with the business to identify actionable insights.

16. Al AdamsenThe 10 Essentials of Generating Workforce Insight

As founder of the Talent Strategy Institute, Al Adamsen is one of the most popular and connected people in the field, convenes a number of people analytics themed events and has a wealth of knowledge about the subject. Here Al provides ten salient points, which are a great template for the aspiring analytics leader to follow as they build and grow their function.

17. Richard Rosenow – HR Analytics Starter Kit: Part 1 and Part 2 – Intro to R

One of the new writers to emerge in 2016 in the people analytics space is Richard Rosenow, who has compiled a number of great articles on the subject. These twin set of blogs under the ‘HR Analytics Starter Kit’ moniker provide respectively i) an introduction to the space featuring a number of tips and links, and; ii) an overview of some of the tools used by analysts with more detail on R. Richard is definitely one to watch.

18. Martin Oest – Keeping Strategic Workforce Planning and People Analytics together delivers significant benefits

Another new writer to emerge in 2016 is Martin Oest, the joint winner of the Individual Achievement Award at the recent Tucana People Analytics conference in London, which I had the privilege of co-chairing. Like me, Martin believes that people analytics is the glue that holds effective strategic workforce planning together. This article builds on this theme and demonstrates the benefits to HR – and the business – of following this mantra. Watch out for Martin, a rising practitioner in this space.

19. Greta Roberts – The beginner’s guide to Predictive Workforce Analytics

As founder and CEO of Talent Analytics, Greta has been helping organisations do analytics with their people data for 15 years. Therefore, it is no surprise that she offers some great advice in this article on how to implement predictive workforce analytics and the common pitfalls to avoid. I particularly like Greta’s advice on avoiding the “Wikipedia approach” of starting with the dataset rather than the business question – a typical problem I encounter with organisations trying to get started in this space.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 7.48.52 PM

20. Mayank Jain – Does your HR Analytics program create business impact?

Continuing the theme above from Greta, another common pitfall for HR is that they focus their analytics efforts on projects that have little importance to the business. Mayank Jain, VP Workforce Planning & Analytics at Visa, muses on the ‘a-ha moment’ in his career that helped shape his thinking and then describes the three challenges outside analytical capability that need to be overcome: foundational, relevance and execution.

21. Jeroen Delmotte – Why HR reporting can be very misleading

Reporting is not analytics. Repeat three times and now breathe. Reporting on its own can also lead to the wrong conclusion as perfectly described in this article by Jeroen Delmotte, partner-in-crime to Luk Smeyers at iNostix by Deloitte. Jeroen recounts an example where the reports generated by an organisation’s HRIS suggested a link between high seniority and low performance. He goes on to explain the (many) reasons why this would be a dangerous conclusion to make and why regression analysis is mandatory.

22. Mike West – How traditional HR metrics lead us astray

Ex-Googler, all-round good egg and People Analytics veteran Mike West has been a prolific writer thus far in 2016. His CHRO Guide to People Analytics series has produced a wealth of practical advice and tips for organisations and individuals seeking to get their analytics initiatives off the ground. This one describes the limitation of traditional HR metrics (e.g. not business focused, too aligned to individual HR CoE, too simplistic etc) and offers a way forward in combination with analytics.

23. Gareth Jones – Recruiters and Algorithms: Separating fact from fiction

Perhaps the most topical debate in recruiting (and indeed many other disciplines) is if and when humans will be supplanted by algorithms. In this superb piece, Gareth Jones sorts the facts from the fiction and offers his own view concluding (in line with my own thinking) that rather than wholesale replacement of human recruiters, algorithms, analytics and AI will augment (and improve) the hiring process.

24. Ben Taylor – The new 4th prong of HR Analytics

Just creeping into this list (it was published on 30th June – the last day of the qualifying period) is this thoughtful article by Ben Taylor, Chief Data Scientist at HireVue. Ben argues compellingly for a fourth prong to be recognised within the field of people analytics. The first two – typically propagated by analysts – model validity and model diversity are joined by job relatedness (an I/O psych favourite) along with Ben’s suggestion – predetermined destiny. Read the article to find out if you agree.

25. Matt Alder & Andrew Marritt – Recruiting Future Podcast – Ep 53: Unique Insights from People Analytics

If you haven’t already subscribed to Matt Alder’s unmissable Recruiting Future Podcast, I highly recommend you do. This gem features an interview with Andrew Marritt ofOrganization View and touches on a number of aspects of people analytics principally the use of text in the engagement, performance management, employer brand and job application screening processes. 30 minutes of invaluable insight.

26. Jean Paul Isson – The 7 pillars of successful People Analytics implementation

This great article on the ERE blog summarises findings from Jean Paul Isson’s recently published book on people analytics (see here). From the many interviews Jean Paul conducted with more than 340 industry leaders and experts across the HR discipline, four major challenges in gaining analytical proficiency and seven talent management priorities emerged.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 5.48.26 PM

Figure 5 – The 7 Pillars of People Analytics – Jean Paul Isson

27. Barry Flack – Four ways to conquer HR’s fear of the living data

With his unique blend of humour, candour and insight, Barry is one of the most interesting voices in the world of HR. In this blog, Barry rightly surmises that HR has a long way to travel in order to get to grips with analytics before outlining four ways that will enable organisations to put their foot on the accelerator to reach their destination quicker. Some great lines as usual from the irrepressible Mr Flack.

…and not forgetting David Green

Finally, if you’ll forgive the mild self-promotion you may want to read three of the many articles I have published on people analytics in the first half of 2016:

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 5.49.09 PM

  • A note to recruiting leaders: Reporting is NOT analytics – in my experience many recruiting leaders seem to confuse analytics with reporting. This article for the ERE blog attempts to explain the difference between the two and the additional significant benefits provided by analytics.

LinkedIn Pulse Influencer David Green

Share This Article


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments