How can data analytics be used to identify top performers?

Every HR team needs data analytics. With the right analytics, HR teams can be armed with the necessary data to decide where resources can be better allocated: where new team members may be needed, which candidates are right for the job and future business strategies


Having the right employees on board for this process is vital and using data analytics to intelligently identify who these employees are is what will set apart the successful businesses from the unsuccessful.

However, knowing where to start is often the problem. With so much data to look at, where is the best place to begin? Identifying top performers is a key challenge, but by using metrics on areas such as attendance, engagement and performance, these individuals can not only be recognised, but replicated to ensure all employees are happy and productive in their roles.

What does a ‘top’ performer look like?

Most organisations will say that they only want top performers. And why not, why should they settle for less?

Yet, many organisations still need to consider what ‘top’ really means – but this can only be achieved by adding data in the mix to identify not only existing top performers but potential top performers.

For example, the benchmark for a top performer might be exceptional attendance, excellent engagement in tasks and achieving outstanding results.

If this is the case, then a potential top performer might be an employee that hits two out of the three areas, with areas to improve in the third.

By identifying which area the employee may need to develop skills or characteristics, the organisation can ensure that employee is fully supported to go from being a potential top performer to an actual top performer.

The same methodology applies for disengaged employees; what can a top-performing employee that is highly engaged teach the organisation about an employee that has recently become disengaged, and how can they become engaged?

By looking at areas such as the employee’s current workload – are they under- or over-worked? – and their current team – has the size of the team decreased, or are they fully supported? – the organisation will gain a better understanding of which circumstances or factors may be contributing to the employee’s current lack of engagement.

Looking into these areas will not only help to improve the working life of the employee but also identify if there is untapped potential for the employee to become a top performer.

Top performers in the recruitment process

How can the success of top performers be replicated in the search for future employees?

The information gained from looking at the characteristics and skills of top-performing employees can be extremely useful when establishing if a possible new recruit would be a good fit for the company.

Do their interests and past experience match that of current top performers?

Do they share similar employment history or skills that mean the employee has the potential to also be successful?

At the same time, organisations must look at exiting employees and assess if they possess any skills that should be avoided or replicated, or if they are leaving a gap that must be filled.

If so, can any winning characteristics or skills be identified in the list of candidates being considered? This may be the secret to replicating the success of current top performers – but only data can reveal that.

Retaining top performers

Identifying top performers and understanding how these characteristics can be used within the recruitment process is important, but organisations can’t forget to examine how these top-performing employees can be retained themselves.

After all, these aren’t employees that organisations would want to risk losing.

Organisations and HR teams can start by looking at employees that have been with the company the longest; what has made them stay for so long?

Does the employee have a great relationship with their line manager, or have they taken advantage of particular perks?

These areas can also be used to identify what can attract an employee to stay at the organisation, rather than look for a job elsewhere, which can also inform future company policies or incentives.

The right path for success starts with any organisation really knowing who its employees are, which are top-performing, or potentially top-performing, and how this can be replicated both amongst existing and potential employees.

Armed with this insight from HR analytics, organisations can create a workforce that is motivated, engaged and dedicated to seeing the organisation grow and succeed.

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