People & Leadership

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” How HR can future-proof with people analytics

The HR and payroll profession was arguably the most affected department during and after COVID-19. The pandemic emphasised humility more than any other event, training, or study ever could, which meant that HR and payroll professionals had to identify ways to enhance the work environment in the “new world of work”.

At the 2022 HR Indaba, Gerhard Hartman, Vice President of Medium Business at Sage Africa and the Middle East, gave his take on the future of HR and how people analytics and smarter technologies are setting the stage for the advancement of the profession.

In this article, we highlight some of the HR trends he discussed during the session, and what the future holds.

Here’s what we cover:

The current state of HR and people analytics

Our research shows:

  • 94% of business leaders have access to some form of people data from HR.
  • 68% of C-suite leaders don’t necessarily rely on HR data, and 38% aren’t fully satisfied with HR’s ability to provide insights and recommendations.

62% of HR leaders said they’re not able to use the data to spot trends and make business-related predictions.

If business and HR leaders are sitting on a goldmine of data, why aren’t they using it to enhance the employee experience?

Well, maybe the question shouldn’t be “why” but “how”…

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” says Gerhard, referring to employee engagement and satisfaction.

He also emphasised that prioritising the employee experience is no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity for business survival.

So, the more employee data you have, the better you’ll be able to measure satisfaction levels to enhance the employee experience.

But many people resist the concept of mixing technology with human resources. After all, isn’t the one supposed to replace the other?

Nope. Believe it or not, HR and payroll technology is a platform that gives employees a voice, ultimately giving you the clarity to address critical issues within your organisation.

Five trends shaping HR

Gerhard discussed five trends shaping HR today:

  1. Rethinking employee experiences

How can you put the “human” back in HR? By understanding employee passions and aspirations. Once you know where your employees want to be, you can motivate, upskill, and empower them to fulfil their goals.

  1. Leading from the front

Give your business and employees the flexibility to adapt to new challenges, work models, and organisational shifts that can disrupt their lives. A case in point: 86% of surveyed businesses more easily adapted to remote and hybrid work models with cloud HR technology.

  1. Building impact with insight

Cloud technology allows business and HR leaders to make the right decisions instantly. Why? Because people analytics gives you real-time insight into the state of the employee experience and performance, allowing you to take action immediately instead of waiting for the annual performance review cycle.

  1. Investing in the right tech

Our research found 77% of HR and payroll professionals struggle with legislation and compliance complexity. So, before switching to the cloud, ensure you choose a solution that offers the advanced reporting, custom dashboards, automatic legislation updates, and accessibility needed to make your life easier.

  1. Focusing on company culture

Once you have a user-friendly and reliable tech solution on your side, it’s time to use your newfound spare time to place a greater focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and sustainability. However, it’s not enough to just implement policies, so make sure your employees feel a sense of belonging in the business and their roles by including them in the conversations and giving them the self-service tools to take ownership of their information.

The key lies in people analytics

There’s a big difference between leading from the past and leading for the future.

When we lead from past experiences, we’re using lagging metrics that are only useful if we want to understand intended outcomes and our progress toward them, like earned revenue and vacation days taken.

When we lead from a current and future perspective, we use leading metrics to predict future outcomes and take preventative action, like encouraging employees to take leave to prevent burnout.

These data points include real-time employee engagement and satisfaction levels that ultimately determine employees’ abilities to reach business objectives.

So, now that you have the data, how do you turn it into usable information that will impact your bottom line?

This is what De Keur Group did

De Keur Group is a growing, family-run agricultural business with multiple entities. As you can imagine, it has mountains of employee, payroll, and financial data that it must capture, manage, and analyse.

The Group implemented Sage 300 People, which gave HR Manager Johan du Plessis continuous, accurate, and real-time data from all three businesses in one place.

“One of the system’s key benefits is that we can generate management reports at the push of a button and export them to Excel, giving senior executives the real-time information they need to support their decisions about the workforce,” says Johan. “This was especially helpful during COVID-19 lockdowns when employee numbers and business requirements were in constant flux.”

Rethinking the employee experience

Data, people analytics, legislative compliance, and integrated systems are like GPSes guiding you and your employees toward a positive company culture.

And the better the company culture, the better the employee experience.

Once you have this GPS set up, the employee lifecycle will look something like this:

  • Brand attraction: Top talent will be more interested in joining an organisation with a good employer and brand reputation.
  • Recruitment: Technology enables talent to apply for positions more easily.
  • Onboarding: New employees feel a sense of belonging within your organisation because they have a voice and easy access to HR and their manager.
  • Career development: Employees can upskill and develop their expertise to achieve their career goals.
  • Retention: Employees are happy and engaged in a positive culture that supports wellness, DEI, benefits, rewards, and recognition.
  • Separation: You’ve established an environment where people only leave due to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities or retirement.

Next steps: How to transform data into action

  • Alignment: Match your HR objectives to business goals, both strategic and day-to-day.
  • Combine: Ensure your data is stored on one platform that provides a single source of the truth and enables sharing in multiple formats across the business.
  • Lead, don’t lag: The future is tomorrow, so focus on the data that lets you prepare and succeed.
  • Prioritise: Customise dashboards to include only the most relevant data that match your business objectives.
  • Engage: Speak to C-suite peers about the HR data they need to focus on.
  • Walk the talk: Use the metrics to speak the language of data across the business.
  • Invest wisely: Determine what you need to meet business objectives and invest in the tech to match.

Sage 300 People

Secure, compliant, and familiar, Sage 300 People has everything you need to drive HR and payroll in your large business.

Find out more