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How to use data to shape your people strategy

Sara Holmberg
Date Published:
February 2024
minute read
How to use data to shape your people strategy

Did you know data can talk?

It does - if you’re willing to listen. Data will tell you everything you need to know about your organisation's feelings towards their work situation and how connected they are to your company’s mission, vision, and values.

The trick is thinking of data as your organisation's mirror (it reflects everything!) and to gather insights in real-time. If you manage that, data will become your ultimate tool to cut through the guesswork and figure out what your organisation truly need, so you can build, strengthen and fine-tune your efforts.

A data-driven People Strategy makes sure that the organisation’s business objectives, vision, and mission transform into actionable people and culture initiatives and programs. Using data helps you make impactful organisational changes that also sends a powerful message to all teams; that you're genuinely interested and care about their experience.

This blog post highlights why data is a must for shaping people strategies, and helps finding your biggest focus for the coming year.

Why having a data-driven People Strategy?

Let's start with the why - why should you even start analysing data?

1. Data boosts visibility and impact

Being in HR is being the heartbeat of the company – you're here to spark enthusiasm, to make sure everyone is aligned to your culture, and to keep a eye on the emotional and psychosocial well-being of the teams.

And HR isn't just about feelings and "soft vales"; HR is a powerhouse for driving big changes in the business. They're the catalyst for turning work into a place where everyone's truly thriving and for making the winning difference happen.

With data, you can present solid numbers to back up our people strategy - making management happy while opening up a window of transparency across the whole organisation.

2. Data quantifies qualitative values

Gone are the days when elusive "soft values" are dismissed as too fluffy to measure and can't be linked to the bottom line. Thanks to the digital revolution and the magic of HR tech, we're now turning those intangible qualities into hard, quantifiable data.

This means that companies are forced to flip the script on their people strategy. Now it's all about guiding your workforce and turning their needs and concerns into reality, rather than clocking their time and output.

Because you can't only manage everything Human Resources related; it’s also about handling how humane your employee experience is.

As the torchbearer of company culture and values, data will the base for your systematic process for executing, scaling, and measuring the impact of your people strategy.

3. Data gives you direction

According to Gartner: “AI-based solutions can drive faster, easy-to-use HR services and help HR functions develop new personalisation strategies to engage the technology-enabled workforce and improve employee performance.”

But are there tools that can help you access this data? Sure, but how do you know what to measure? The smartest tools find the answers for you by analysing the data, finding correlations and suggesting what you should act on.

And they are GDPR complaint.

What is your People Strategy focus?

A long-term People Strategy gives everyone a collective vision and the steps to reach your vision, one milestone at a time. To achieve this, add these three aims into your people strategy:

1. Inform business leaders and help their decision-making by connecting people data with business data

2. Enable HR leaders to design and implement appropriate HR activities based on relevant insights.

3. Measure HR’s effectiveness in delivering against its objectives.

But where to start? Sara Holmberg, Head of HR at Winningtemp explains: “Start by asking yourself: Where are we as a company? Where are we going? Your People strategy must be in sync with the company vision, mission, values, desired behaviour, and the overall business strategy."

This clarity of vision will help you cut through the noise and concentrate on the right things. But it's still important to pay attention to what's directly in front of your feet. You need the power of real-time data to identify the issues that need immediate attention to ensure red flags don't become a part of your culture.

Here's a few common examples of what your main goal can be.

Goals driven by business size

One of the key factors that help set the direction for your strategy is the phase of the company — the maturity of the company determines the organisational structure, budget, business objectives, and with that, the HR focus. Here are a few example scenarios about how HR focus areas can differ according to overarching business objectives:

How HR helps business

As the organisation evolves, so does your HR people strategy. However, there’s one factor that remains constant throughout the evolution — nurturing a positive and inclusive employee experience.

Reduce employee turnover

By taking a data-driven approach, you can figure out how many people are quitting (and will quit in the coming months), where in the organisation you have the highest turnover risk, why they are leaving, and how to prevent it.

Then HR and leaders work together to determine what the main triggers are for their teams, and set a action plan. Is the teams struggling with for example lack of career growth, compensation, personal development, disengagement or unclear communication?

Frequent data shines a light on hidden grievances or an elephant in the room (that no one wants to acknowledge). Your best friend will be tools that use cognitive technologies (such as machine learning) because it can analyse millions of data points to identify at-risk employee groups and suggest immediate measures.

Winningtemp’s Smart Prediction is one such example. Armed with relevant data, you can adapt your short- term strategy to focus efforts on the right things, which ultimately helps you shape the long- term strategy.

Boost employee wellbeing

Well-being is usually (and rightfully so) on the top of the agenda when it comes to HR initiatives. However, it’s a subjective topic, because what wellbeing means for one group or individuals isn’t necessarily the same for others.

So how do you know for sure what wellbeing means to your employees? The answer is simple - gather data.

As an actionable short-term goal, start by providing your employees with a safe, anonymous way to voice their concerns, thoughts, and ideas. Actively listen and follow up with them without jeopardising their anonymity, especially after organisation-wide policy changes. Their feedback and the overall sentiment data should inform your long-term strategy and values.

Recruiting and data

Experienced people teams scan the entire employee lifecycle to gather and study relevant metrics to find opportunities, identify champions, and work actively towards providing a positive employee experience. There are also many KPIs to measure and optimise your strategy - starting from garden-variety performance metrics to calculating ROI against each employee.

However, if you’re in the initial stage of developing and testing your People Strategy, you might want to start with measuring the following people analytics metrics to analyse and improve your employee experience:

People analytics helps you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to attracting the right people, taking inventory of and managing skills gaps, determining culture fit, and working with issues that impact employees’ engagement. It gives you access to a treasure trove of crucial insights to explore untapped opportunities, to find out why your people leave, and, more importantly, why they decide to stay.

How to get started with people analytics?

Gathering enough employee data shouldn’t be the end goal; you must work with the available data to understand where your employee sentiment is heading, and how you can help them reach their full potential.

In Winningtemp, you'll get qualitative insights to answer your ‘why’ questions— why your employees feel the way they do. The data helps you dress the KPIs with substance, identify the engagement drivers, and utilise the employee feedback to optimise your strategy and make informed decisions.

Interested in creating the future of work and building a culture that strives for excellence AND encourages empathy and understanding?

Book a demo today

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Sara Holmberg
About the Author
About the Author
About the Author
Om författaren
Sara Holmberg
With a strong background in legal and HR consulting in firms such as Fingerprint Cards, PwC and Flex, she joined Winningtemp as Head of HR in August 2021. Sara is passionate about people and believes that the future of work and HR is moving towards an approach where employees feel valued and have the tools to reach their potential. To achieve this aim, she’s focused on working to give employees their desired level of autonomy within their roles, creating a rewards system that focuses on recognising and understanding the needs of employees, from financial welfare to mental health. Additionally, her commitment to wellbeing is shown by her work as a board member at Räddningsmissionen, a Swedish charity working for social rights ensuring everyone has access to a dignified life.

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