People analytics is the practice of gathering and using data about your workforce to enable evidence-based decision making for the benefit of your organisation and its people. By taking a systematic and critical approach to examining people data, people professionals can contribute to an organisation’s success by creating insights on what can and should be done to drive strategic change.

The CIPD has conducted case study research with a number of organisations to understand how they are using people analytics to deal with a variety of business challenges. Their experiences and insight can help you in your own context to embrace people analytics and adopt good, data-supported actions to improve organisational practice and performance.

Leading with data to improve workforce wellbeing

Organisation: VIVID
Industry: Housing services and provision
Size: Approximately 900 staff
Speakers: Cathryn Gee, Head of People; Trevor Rawlings, HR Manager

Why did you turn to people data for a solution?

When VIVID was formed from a merger of two housing associations in 2017, we knew that the changes would cause stress to some people. There were lots to do, including service offerings and processes to align, new values to embed and so on. We turned to people data to form our strategy on dealing with stress, and to gain support and investment for our initiatives.

How did you collect and analyse the data?

We collected data from our HR systems, staff surveys and benefits providers. We used Excel to analyse what happened, when, to whom and, where possible, explore why it happened, as this would help understand the repercussions of certain decisions and actions.

What did this exercise uncover?

The exercise showed us the state of our people’s mental health and wellbeing at different points in time.

What action did you take?

We signed the ‘Time to Change’ pledge to remove the stigma attached to poor mental health. Colleagues volunteered to become ‘Stigma Busters’ and in doing so shared their personal stories of dealing with mental health issues in blogs and drop-in sessions. A real turning point for us was when a male, senior leader who was an ex-builder came forward to talk about his own struggles. He was not the sort of person who would ordinarily be confident to talk about this. But he did. It was so powerful it resonated with many other people across the organisation.

We also introduced new employee benefits: a new wellbeing app with 300 programmes and updated our Employee Assistance Programme to provide counselling and CBT as a standard offering. We also trained our managers on how to recognise the signs of someone who’s struggling, and how to have those conversations.

What were the outcomes and lessons learnt?

Our key metrics improved as more people participated in our mental health and wellbeing initiatives and staff became more used to the new work culture. Over the 12 months to March 2020, engagement rose from 66% to 85%, mental health sickness fell by 1.5 days to 2.2 days, and labour turnover reduced by 4.8 percentage points to 9.8%. 70% of people used the new wellbeing app. With fewer people off sick and fewer leavers, we have avoided around £100,000 in costs.

Our people’s health and wellbeing improved and our approach to supporting people has stood us well during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the actions that are taken after analysing the data that create real strategic impact – the people initiatives – not the numbers on the spreadsheet.

VIVID won the People Management Awards 2020 for the Best Health and Wellbeing Initiative.

Solving business problems with people analytics:
case studies

From ensuring fair pay and inclusion to improving wellbeing and retention, people professionals can use people analytics to tackle business challenges

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