An Analytics-Powered Approach to Talent

Chris Louie, SVP, People Analytics & Talent Acquisition, Nielsen
Chris Louie, SVP, People Analytics & Talent Acquisition, Nielsen

Analytics is at the core of how Nielsen creates value for clients. We produce data and insights that clients use to make better decisions and improve their businesses. Applying this same approach to our talent—making better talent-related decisions that improve our employees’ experiences and lead to a more effective and efficiently run workforce—is a natural fit. That’s what people analytics is all about.

People analytics is still a relatively nascent discipline within human resource (HR) organizations. As such, it often takes the form of a small group of experts working on ad hoc projects to which a limited set of senior leaders are exposed, due to the sensitivity of the data. It’s also typically associated with massive data sets and complicated statistical models that tend to scare away most.

We have a very different view of people analytics at Nielsen. We believe it should be liberating as opposed to limiting. Thousands of talent-related decisions are made every day by associates across the organization and at all levels, so the optimal situation is to get data and insights in the hands of the broad organization as opposed to a select few. While special projects that require a greater level of expertise will still be necessary, most of the value from people analytics will come from enabling the hundreds of HR leaders and thousands of managers around the world to be better informed about our people and take action.

We also start with business outcomes first, as opposed to analysis first—the end as opposed to the means. Our vision is that people analytics will give our organization “HR super powers.” These include:

  • Instant answers to talent-related questions;
  • A constant read on the pulse of the organization;
  • A sixth sense of when action needs to be taken;
  • Deep insights on major talent issues and areas; and
  • A view into future talent needs and trends.

Realizing this vision will take our ability to manage our workforce, create opportunities for our employees and improve our talent to a fundamentally higher level.

We are building the capabilities we need to achieve this on a few different dimensions:

  • Our data: Data is the lifeblood of any analytic effort. People data is notoriously messy and disconnected. We have a significant effort underway to improve the quality and completeness of our people data and integrate it with other critical data sets (e.g., financial, operational).
  • Our technology: Data only becomes valuable when it is accessible and usable. We are launching an analytics platform that brings our people data to bear in the form of use case driven reporting (e.g., understanding workforce trends, major drivers of attrition, the efficiency of our hiring process), with the ability to see aggregated insights and drill down to individual information to take action.
  • Our people: We are increasing the analytic capabilities of our HR associates through a People Analytics Community of Practice, which provides training and access to resources (e.g., current tools, past studies) and promotes the sharing of best practices across the organization.
  • Our approach: We are putting the policies and processes in place to ensure we protect the privacy of our associates around the world, utilizing data in ways that are transparent and beyond reproach.

We are applying people analytics today to address our biggest priorities. Workforce planning is the basis for our Path to 2020 efforts. We are studying our employee engagement results to identify the biggest opportunities for improvement and the most effective teams and practices for others to emulate. We are determining ways to optimize our hiring processes, improve retention, increase diversity and manage our workforce more efficiently.

The early dividends from our work are substantial and energizing. But the most exciting part of it is that we’ve just scratched the surface of what people analytics can deliver for Nielsen and its people.

Learn more about our approach with our people and our talent strategy in our second Global Responsibility Report.

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