How People Analytics is Changing the Workplace

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By Matthew McGrath

Presentation during a business meeting in office.

There’s no doubt that the way we work and our workplaces are undergoing a salient but permanent change.

Extenuating circumstances aside, organizations have been over reliant on traditional practices, instinct and intuition and under-prepared to leverage data to make insightful, fact-based decisions. This is especially true for their most important resource – employees.

While businesses are now finally waking up to the importance of using data in human resource management, Canada is still a facing a skills gap of approximately 150,000 data-literate managers and analysts1 who can guide us in this new direction. Their role is going to be increasingly important as the workplace continues to morph into something new.

People analytics and the emergence of the hybrid workplace

Even with companies collecting more data, they still need HR generalists and specialists to make sense out these numbers. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, 71 percent of companies see people analytics as a high priority in their organizations. However, only around 9% of these companies feel that they have a good understanding of which talent dimensions drive performance in their organizations.

People analytics professionals can look beyond the numbers and translate raw data into actionable workforce solutions. The obvious benefit is hiring the right person for the right job. But more recently, it’s been managing an employee’s mental health and well-being. This is to not only create a productive environment but also to reduce employee turnover.

A recent example where data played a role in managing change is the emergence of the hybrid workplace, which involves employees coming to the office occasionally while also being able to work from home.

In the last couple of years, many businesses were forced to make the transition online. But HR professionals were able to use data collection tools like surveys to put digital collaboration initiatives in place that kept morale high and made sure employees didn’t feel secluded. This included regular check-ins on Zoom, internal surveys and more transparent communication, making the transition to a hybrid workplace much easier.

It looks like the hybrid workplace is here to stay, in one form or another, and companies will continue to require individuals who can leverage data to keep engaging the workforce and develop a sound people strategy. 

How people analytics professionals lead change at their workplace

There are many ways in which people analytics professionals can help show the way an organization could deal with HR-related problems and issues.

Through Insight-mining and data processing, human resource management duties like locating, hiring, educating, training and developing employees can be done much faster and more efficiently.

Without data, recruitment is often just a shot in the dark but an analyst is able to use predictive models that utilize A.I. processes to help a business find the right fit for a job. This helps reduce the cost per hire and even raises the employee retention rate.

In-fact, understanding the reasons for attrition or turnover is another big part of people analytics.

For example, this past February, students in the School’s Certificate in People Analytics program worked with Endeavour Consulting to discover the reason for the high turnover in charity fundraising roles. As part of their capstone project, their goal was to study the underlying reasons for low retention and provide evidence-based recommendations to help charities find a more stable workforce. You can read more about that project in our blog here.

The Certificate in People Analytics at the School of Continuing Studies

The Certificate in People Analytics is Canada’s first such certificate, with a goal to empower HR professionals with the tools and know-how to shape a workplace that’s able to leverage its most valuable resource to their highest potential.

Starting from the fundamental concepts of data analytics, students eventually learn to visualize data insights and apply them to address HR-related problems. We worked with leaders in the field of people analytics to design a curriculum that provides enriching experiential-learning opportunities like the capstone project we mentioned above. All the while, students also develop crucial cross-functional skills like critical thinking, persuasion, negotiation and public speaking.

This 6-month program is delivered in our accelerated format, which means that our students can graduate faster to quickly join this growing industry.

It’s clear that job roles will only be getting more complicated and varied. In such a scenario, organizations will need to use data to lean into this change and focus on the employee experience. People analytics professionals will be needed to make data-backed decisions that can bring together the goals of the organization and the employees.

The Certificate in People Analytics will open for enrollment in September 2021.

1Canada’s Big Data Consortium, 2015, “Closing Canada’s Big Data Talent Gap” viewed at