Better Workforce Planning with People Analytics

Learn how to use your employee data and allocate resources in order to make transformative business decisions. Identify gaps with Flextribe

Become better at allocating resources where they are needed. Outsource the right tasks and find the right talent for that perfect fit. With Flextribe, your data dash isn’t just numbers and figures – your data dash gives you valuable insights that allow you to make transformative business decisions.

People analytics, or HR analytics, are powerful. Especially in combination with a holistic perspective. A good data dashboard tells you more than just numbers: it tells you why a number might be high or low. It can predict outcomes, give forecasts, helps you develop goals and determine KPIs. Through machine learning, people analytics have the ability to provide you with valuable insights and actionable metrics such as employee satisfaction, performance rates and cost-per-hire.

According to Harvard Business Review, more than 70% of companies consider people analytics to be a high priority. [1] In order to achieve optimal workforce planning, better performance and higher productivity, companies implement people analytics as part of their strategic planning. This approach allows businesses to understand their metrics and identify the key insights that allow them to adjust their workforce planning.


Define the right gaps

What people analytics does for you is to identify gaps. Having full data transparency allows you to manage talent and make evidence-based decisions. A great freelance management system (FMS) allows your business to invest in performance management, onboarding training and many more business objectives. Having a streamlined one-platform system makes setting goals and KPIs, as well as progress tracking, easier for your company.

Group 949Image credit: McKinsey

Strong data generate reliable predictions. Evaluating your data becomes easier when it is all located in one place — and available in real-time too. Technology that enables your company to make data-driven decisions. A data overview of time and money spent on external projects might tell you that you’re spending more funds in certain areas than needed — or perhaps, seeing how much communication is needed for each freelancer you hire will tell you that your business needs to allocate resources for proper onboarding and better project briefs.

A data-driven approach to external workforce planning

What freelancer data can show you is how to free up personnel, fill up talent gaps, and which tasks to outsource. Your organization will benefit from having software that provides you with the right insights. Businesses need to consider the power of scalability, too. freelance management systems work for small businesses, as well as large organizations. 

In a case study conducted by McKinsey, a large restaurant chain implemented the use of people analytics over a four-month period. The company tracked everything — the length of a shift, personality traits, commuting distance, training time, the way people interacted and finally, time and budgeting of staffing. The company had about 10.000 data points across four US markets!

Then came the analysis of said data. More than 100 hypotheses were tested as a result of the gathered data. The company tested and tracked several new initiatives based on the data: shorter shifts, better onboarding, more motivational incentives and so forth. The results were astonishing. The customer satisfaction score grew by more than 100 %, sales went up 5% and the speed of service became 30 seconds faster.

The challenges of strategic planning

Essentially, people analytics rely on a business's ability to understand the data. Data integration needs infrastructure and resources — despite the data collection and analysis being automated, businesses need to consider the quality of their data. How will you use the data? What capabilities do you need in order to make strategic decisions based on your data?

You don’t need a complex, mathematical understanding of algorithms in order to utilize people's data. Using surveys and feedback loops can provide you with nuanced, rich insights — insight that your consultants or freelancers can provide you, free of charge, as they evaluate your project. With a freelance management system or vendor management system, the insights will present themselves to you through full data transparency in the form of interactive, graphical dashboards. Third-party systems like these make things a lot easier and save companies from spending a big chunk of their budget on developing their own software.

Reducing administrative barriers

The strength lies in analyzing data, rather than just reporting data. Having an organized, interwoven system that monitors and examines the quality of work and performance, as well as introducing safe payment methods and document sharing, allows businesses to access everything in the value chain. A report from the University of Oxford showed that projects sourced through an FMS by Fortune 500 companies grew by 26%. A researcher from the Morgan Stanley Research Institute particularly noted that “reducing administrative barriers” plays a large part in the rise of FMS, and in addition, she also adds that a large part of Fortune 500 companies also becomes more agile as they can utilize freelancers with specialized skills while controlling labour costs.


“Only 9% of companies believe they have a good understanding of what talent dimensions drive performance in their organizations.”

LinkedIn’s “The Rise of Analytics in HR” report


The possibilities of freelancer data

To put it simply, freelancer data sourced through an FMS will give you endless possibilities. The core question is to ask: “What data is relevant to our business goals?” and set KPIs accordingly. Essentially, your data collection, analysis and action plan through an FMS could look like this:

  1. Get the data that matters
    Having an overview of costs and time spent, communication and briefing hours used, and finally, areas of use will show you which business areas need closer monitoring.

  2. Enrich and explore the data
    Use the features of the FMS to enrich your data! Send surveys and contact previous talent hires. Why did you spend 4 hours on meetings during that particular project? How could you improve communication?

  3. Set up an action plan
    Understand your data. What do you want to do with it? Do you want to improve onboarding? Do you want to work with the same freelancers again? What actions do you need to take?

  4. Determine measurable goals
    Set up future goals that allow you to track them. Maybe, by next year, your external meetings have been reduced by 20%? Or perhaps, you’re spending less on marketing consultants and more on creative talent?

  5. Take action
    After setting your goals, you can take action. Implement your actions. Watch your data change. Perhaps your workforce planning needs more adjustments? People analytics will change rapidly – and with an FMS, you can see them in real-time.

  6. Measure
    Finally, you measure the results. What worked? What didn’t? Did allocating work to freelancers free up personnel? Or did you spend too much time on briefing and onboarding?

Why not just develop your own people analytics software?

The problem with developing software, or using existing ones, can be that algorithms, tools and logic are built on the company’s historic data — which might not always be an advantage. In 2015, Amazon developed an AI recruiting tool that should have helped the company source the right talent, but that was not the case. The software was based on the previous decade’s hirings — which had been predominantly men. What that resulted in was the system penalizing any resumé that includes the word ‘woman’ or ‘women’. It’s safe to say that AI was abandoned quickly after that. 

Another example of algorithms getting it wrong is actually LinkedIn. In 2016, it was discovered that searching for popular female names would bring up a suggestion by LinkedIn to change it into a male name. A search for “Andrea Jones” would prompt a suggestion of “Did you mean Andrew Jones?”, and the same would happen for other common female names in the U.S. Oddly enough, the same did not happen when searching for male names. LinkedIn, at the time, said that it was due to people’s own search history, though it didn’t quite seem to be the case. As of now, there is no trace of any suggestions on LinkedIn.

The good news is that most freelance management systems don’t have AI or algorithms like that. It’s not about past hires. It is not about complex algorithms that feed off of what kind of demographics a candidate has — an FMS looks for the best fit for the job on the basis of skills and experience.


The predictive data dashboard

According to LinkedIn, one of the main drivers behind people analytics is the need for planning the workforce of the future. The future has talent being more diverse – freelancers and consultants hold a broad set of skills and respond strongly to things like employer branding and hiring strategies. Keeping talent is the issue – and that’s why 7 out of 10 European countries presented LinkedIn’s “The Rise of Analytics in HR” report, all putting their primary focus on talent development. Knowing what drives talent is key. Knowing what to offer talent is essential.

The predictive data dashboard allows for this. Planning your future workforce becomes easier Flextribe. By engaging with talent through surveys and performance reviews, you can discover what made you win a particular hire – and what made you lose a consultant. Find out whether your business is perceived as an "employer of choice", or if productivity levels are where they should be. Get real-time insights that predict your future strategies, and understand the supply and demand for freelance talents. You might be surprised by what it takes to attract talent: it’s certainly more than just a check.


“Building a data-driven organization that relies on, and functions within, an analytics space begins with changing your corporate culture. Your culture needs to be one where data-driven thinking is rewarded and appreciated — and that change must be delivered from the top”

LinkedIn’s “The Rise of Analytics in HR” report


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