The Power of People Analytics

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SurePeople’s EVP of Research and Data Science, Paul Tsagaroulis, discusses the importance of using people intelligence to assist leaders in optimizing their teams and transforming their organizations.

Businesses rely on high-performing leaders and their teams to drive performance. Data-driven insights that drive action are critical.

Disruptive business practices have shifted strategies while technological and societal forces continue to transform the world of work. Maybe we couldn’t have predicted these changes; however, there is help.

It all starts with data about people at work, the insights that people analytics advances, and the people intelligence solutions needed to drive the future of work.


I began my career in workforce analytics in 2003 in the HR department at Allstate Insurance. Employee engagement was top of mind, so we focused on linking survey results to business performance.

In 2006, I moved to UBS as an HR analyst. We were interested in talent analytics, so we focused on assessing leadership bench strength using 9-box assessments. By 2010, HR embraced *big data*, and the value of people analytics became real. And by 2020, I started up HR analytics functions in the federal government and the private sector.

Now I work at SurePeople, where I oversee research and data science, focusing on psychometrics and people development programs for global businesses and professional sports.

People Analytics

People analytics refers to data-driven practices that assess, develop, and optimize teams and organizations. A good mental model of people analytics is leveraging data to derive insights that drive action – the goal of this framework is to assist leaders in making optimal decisions. 

Efforts to optimize teams focus on the people in organizations and span employee development, engagement, performance, retention, and related HR programs. Advances in people analytics imbue the employee experience and personality assessments to identify intelligent solutions that help transform organizations. 

People Intelligence

People intelligence isn’t a new term but is also used to describe how people analytics and artificial intelligence converge – as an early-stage innovation solution – in HR & work tech circles. Using machine learning techniques, we can identify the root causes of organizational issues and identify predictive and prescriptive actions to solve some of the most complex problems. 

The combination of people analytics and artificial intelligence can identify opportunities that improve how leaders and teams perform. For example, organizational network analysis – which uses data on how people relate to each other – can identify blind spots and prompt actions that improve relationships within teams and organizations. Leveraging how information is exchanged, how decisions are made, and the impact on people is one way to move from data to insights. 

Using people intelligence, leaders can identify ways to drive performance within their teams and organizations. The people intelligence program can elevate leaders, optimize teams, and transform organizations. 

Next Steps

Analyzing data about people at work is nuanced, complex, demanding, and rewarding. A multidisciplinary team – with backgrounds in psychology, computer science, statistics, and economics – is a good start.

Fortunately, analytics skills in the HR function have matured, and HR & work tech solutions have been on the rise to assist organizations. Developing basic data literacy skills is another good start. But creating a data-driven culture in any organization takes time. In closing, when we start with insights about people, we often understand organizations better; this intelligence helps leaders optimize their teams and transform organizations.

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