Q&A: Workforce trends and the analytics you should be tracking

Andrea Derler, Principal of Research and Value at Visier
Oct 6, 2022

In today’s increasingly complex world, acting on gut feelings is not always the best way to make company decisions, especially when it involves your people. Andrea Derler, Principal of Research and Value at Visier, shares what workforce trends leaders should be aware of and the analytics they should track alongside them. Additional Resources: Stop the […]

In today’s increasingly complex world, acting on gut feelings is not always the best way to make company decisions, especially when it involves your people.

Andrea Derler, Principal of Research and Value at Visier, shares what workforce trends leaders should be aware of and the analytics they should track alongside them.

Additional Resources:

Ask a SMB Workplace Question and get featured on POPS! The People Ops podcast.

On this episode, you’ll hear:

  • [00:52] Analytics around attracting and retaining talent
  • [04:27] Analytics around diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • [08:22] Analytics around leader’s data mindset
  • [11:28] Why people analytics matter



Andrea Derler:

Welcome to POPS, the show that shows you how to shift from human resource paperwork to people operations for the new world of work. How? By answering one question at a time. I’m Andrea Derler, I’m the principal of research and value at Visier, and I’m here to help answer the question about workforce trends and the analytics you should be tracking.

Andrea Derler:

Well, I like the name of the company I work for, Visier. It stands for the leader’s most trusted advisor because our tool really helps business and HR leaders make better and data-informed decisions about their workforce and the organizations. Today I would like to share three workforce trends with you and discuss the analytics or metrics that every leader should be tracking. We’re talking about talent, attraction, and retention. Then diversity, equity, and inclusion, and leader’s state of mindset.

Andrea Derler:

Number one, but attracting and retaining talent, that is a seemingly simple topic, but it turned out to be one of the biggest hurdles for leaders at all levels. In a very recent survey we conducted with Deloitte Consulting, we found that not even half of all leaders that we surveyed, and it was across the hierarchy, were very confident in their ability to attract talent and retain talent. And so I think one of the questions that they sometimes missed to ask themselves is, “What can I offer new hires apart from pay and benefits?” Today’s themes really revolve around flexibility, work-life balance, a great culture, a purpose and a mission of the organization, even a focus on leadership skills and management skills can really be a draw or a push away for employees.

Andrea Derler:

And so the metrics that we recommend to track when it comes to attracting and retaining great talent for organizations of all sizes really is the first one, is, “What is the demographic of applicants who turn into interviewees, who turn into hires?” Or, “What are our typical hiring sources? Are we always going to the same places? Are we always having the same conversations with a very similar population?” Or, “Have our hiring choices brought us great talent?” We can track that by looking at the performance of new hires 6, 12, 18 months down the line. The second metric that you can track is around the time to hire. When you are thinking about your application hiring process for new hires, “How long does it actually take your organization to hire people from start to finish? And can that process be done more effectively?”

Andrea Derler:

The third one is about retention. So once you’ve got the talent in the door, the biggest concerns for many organizations nowadays is retaining that talent. One way to track that is you look at your voluntary turnover, specifically at resignation rates. You want to know and track who is leaving and why. We know from our recent research that traditionally has been younger and less tenured employees who have tended to resign more frequently. But in the last two years, in the Great Resignation, we saw that more tenured employees and across the age groups had a lot higher resignation rates from one year to the next. And specifically, also female employees had the highest change rates when we compare 2021 to 2020.

Andrea Derler:

So there is a way that you can track who is leaving the organization and why. And the second related point is, why are they leaving? A lot of the research that we’ve seen out there was around recognition and pay. So sometimes people feel that [inaudible 00:04:04] are not paid fairly, not enough, that they don’t get recognized for the work they do. But more recently, it’s also been about burnout. People just really struggled throughout the pandemic with work-life balance with caring after family members whilst working. It turned out to be too much for them. Another thing that you could track is lack of career options. Some leave because they feel that they are stuck in their career at the organization, that that’s the reason why they leave. So many things you could be looking at when it comes to talent attraction and retention.

Andrea Derler:

A related second topic is certainly around diversity, equity, and inclusion, that’s been a key theme for the last 20 years. A really important one for organizations across all sizes. Three things I think important to know when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion is first of all, there is a lot of data and research out there that confirms that more diverse teams are simply more beneficial for organizations. They perform higher, they are more creative. So many organizations are actually working to create a more equitable workplace for different genders, for different ethnicities, for disability levels. So there’s a wide variety when you think about diversity.

Andrea Derler:

The second point that I find interesting is we learned recently that different generations have different expectations. So it can extend your thoughts or considerations around D and I to generational differences. We know, for example, that younger generations, millennials for example, they expect employers to be very transparent when it comes to pay. My generation certainly wasn’t used to that, but nowadays you have apps like Fishbowl or Reddit or Glassdoor where younger people really discuss their pay and how fair it is and how much everybody earns, and that is new. So that diversity extends towards different generations and expectations that may vary.

Andrea Derler:

The last one is an evergreen, I can’t emphasize it enough. We’re all humans, and humans are biased. Bias is part of our human condition. So mitigating bias is really important across the talent cycle from hiring to separations. Every leader should be aware of the fact that we are all biased, and so we do need to work on mitigating some of the side effects, the unintended consequences of that bias. So what metrics should you track? The first one is you should be taking stock, what is the diversity of your current workforce? Is the ratio, for example, of genders and the people of different ethnicities as balanced as possible? How open are you towards unusual talent background, for example? Can it be a plus for people, employees, in organizations of small or medium size to wear different hats? And so, are you actually looking for a more diverse set of backgrounds in new hires?

Andrea Derler:

The second metric to track is, of course, diversity across the hiring funnel and promotions. You should be asking yourself, “Are women and minorities fairly represented when it comes to hiring processes or promotions?” We heard of one customer, for example, who found that women, of course, performed at least as well as men throughout their tenure, and they also tended to stay longer at their jobs. But when they looked at the hiring funnel, they found there were disproportionately lower numbers of women applicants and they also found that women tended to drop out earlier in the interview process. So that’s one thing you can look out for when it comes to diversity.

Andrea Derler:

And the third metric for D and I related topics is, how much are you doing in your organization to mitigate bias in hiring and promotion decisions? One way to look at that is at which stage of the hiring process do you really lose, for example, diverse candidates? Are they usually dropping out during the interview? So then you could be asking yourselves, “Are we doing enough structured interviews asking the same questions to every candidate or do they vary sometimes? Or do you take the names off of CVs before you even look at them? There’s lots of ways you can mitigate the bias. You can also look at your promotion decisions and see how many women actually make it into senior leadership roles or is there also bias included, or it maybe shining through when it comes to promotion decisions.

Andrea Derler:

The third one, probably a newer trend, worker’s trend, that I’ve personally tracking over the last couple of years is how data oriented leadership styles in organizations. In other words, how much data do leaders and managers use for their decision making processes? I mentioned a recent research with Deloitte Consulting where we asked them great questions. That we found that leaders sometimes think they have enough data, they have enough access to data to make the right decisions. But when you look a little closer at how confident they are to tackle and manage certain talent problems or challenges, it turns out they have a really hard time understanding how they can actually attract great talent for their teams. How they can keep people on the team in the organization or how they conduct workforce planning when the organization changes substantially. So they may think they have enough data, but really it tells us they may not either have the data, the right data, or utilize and adopt those insights for their decision making.

Andrea Derler:

To make things a little bit more complicated, we also found that confidence levels change substantially during the pandemic leading up to hybrid workplace. So, for example, leaders found the talent retention topics have become a little more important when they are in hybrid work setting because they don’t see their people every day. But they are also a lot less confident of how to address it if they are in a hybrid work setting. What if their teams happen to be partly remote and partly in office? So I think the bottom line here is we’re trying to study, do leaders, hopefully, use data and insights to make decisions? Not just about the business, but really about people in the business and being more data driven. Metrics you can track and questions you can ask yourself as a leader about that topic would be, “How many of the managers and leaders in my organization have access to data, people and business data, and use it on a regular basis?”

Andrea Derler:

The second question you can ask is, “Which decisions are being made or not made based on data?” For example, are we looking at data when we are doing workforce planning for business expansion? Are we looking at data when we look at hiring decisions, diversity, equity, and inclusion related decisions for promotions? Now are we really utilizing actual metrics that we track over the years, over the months or are we still relying to some degree on gut feeling and experience? And the last metric you could always track is, “How are we compared to other organizations?” So this is a benchmarking capability that you, hopefully, have adopted or are using currently. Now, for example, how do your attrition rates or resignation rates compare to other organizations of similar industries, your competitors, for example. Or how does the women ratio in senior leadership roles compare to others, maybe to your competitors? So there are various metrics that you can track and we would probably recommend you should track regularly to keep track of them and to make sure you’re making the those data-informed decisions.

Andrea Derler:

Now, in conclusion, I’d like to share a very interesting code of one of my interviewees this year. He said, “People analytics is a fundamental shift in terms of how we lead the companies in the 21st century. Simply because we’re moving away from intuitive decision making and leader led type of dominance, but it’s much more continuous and trend-based informed decision making.” I thought it was a very powerful quote that tells us that in today’s complex world, increasingly complex world, gut feeling really is not the right way to make those decisions. So a data-informed approach to making business and talent decisions should have a place in organizations of all organization sizes.

Andrea Derler:

Do you have a question for us? Please click the link in the show notes, or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to [email protected]


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