The power of data

Leveraging People Analytics to enhance top talent retention at government institutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The purpose of this paper is to provide an in-depth look at how government institutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) can leverage People Analytics to make better people related decisions and enhance top talent retention. We look at key barriers for implementing People Analytics and guidelines on how to best mitigate them. We also present five key considerations that government institutions in KSA need to keep in mind before embarking on their People Analytics journeys.

“Outcomes of People Analytics applications can outperform human decisions by ~25% when selecting the right calibre and profile for a particular job, and can thus enhance retention by at least a similar percentage”

Why People Analytics?

People Analytics in general – and Predictive and Prescriptive People Analytics specifically – can give government organisations an edge for developing a stronger and a more productive national workforce.

  • Understanding future talent needs, and creating compelling people journeys and experiences is crucial for realising Vision 2030.
  • 58% of HR Executives in the KSA government claim that they already employ analytics in their recruitment and employee engagement processes. By further adopting this data-driven approach and moving into predictive analytics, organisations can get invaluable insights into the attraction, retention, and optimisation of the workforce.
  • Each dollar invested in People Analytics can have at least a 13x expected return on the wider organisation from an ROI (return on investment) perspective.

In the following section, we look at four key People Analytics strategies that government institutions in KSA can employ to enhance talent retention.


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Four key People Analytics strategies that can enhance talent retention

Data-driven profiling and recruitment can help government institutions in KSA improve the quality of hire and recruit the right talent faster. One way to achieve targeted recruitment is to combine past recruitment records with performance data and then apply People Analytics to derive insights on the best candidate profiles to target. 

People Analytics can also help refine recruitment criteria by analysing different variables such as performance and attrition data, employee background information, and engagement survey outcomes. This can give government institutions valuable insights on the traits that make employees in certain critical positions successful. Organisations can then leverage this information to construct profiles of candidates that should be targeted for these positions in the future.

Additionally, government institutions in KSA can leverage the power of data to gain a deeper understanding of what their employees value and what keeps their loyalty and engagement high. This can be done by analysing internal data from engagement surveys and exit interviews to establish the elements of work that employees are mainly engaged with and define the areas that need improvement. HR practitioners within government institutions can then leverage generated insights to better understand how to improve employer branding and define the value proposition elements to promote during recruitment.

High-potential employees create more value for their colleagues, organisations, and societies, therefore it is crucial to identify who these key employees are in order to develop and retain them. Government organisations in KSA are no exception to this and the need to identify and retain top talent, especially Saudi nationals, is a national priority. As such, HR leaders need to ask themselves: Can we identify the top talent within our organisation that can create the desired impact? Who are these people and what makes them different?

People Analytics can help government institutions address these questions by uncovering insights and correlations between employee characteristics (e.g. employee background, qualification, knowledge, skills, etc.) and value creation (e.g. employee performance records and/or productivity measures). This, in turn, can help organisations make informed decisions with regards to talent classification and performance management. 

By adopting this approach, an organisation can identify – while minimising error margins – a pool of high-potential employees who can be nurtured and placed on a leadership track as well as establish successful personas that can be used as benchmarks within the talent management process.

In addition to helping government organisations identify key existing and potential talent, People Analytics can also be introduced for personalisation – understanding talent needs and building customised offerings and job experiences using analytics in order to enhance an individual’s experience.

When rolling-out Employee Preference surveys, People Analytics can be used to analyse data relating to employee needs, preferences, and career aspirations. By combining this analysis with the organisation’s knowledge of employees past behaviours, HR leaders can draw key insights and make informed decisions relating to value propositions, benefits, and career opportunities in order to enrich their employees’ journeys and experiences. Numerous data-driven solutions within the HR value chain are currently available to provide personalised insights, predictions, and recommendations. 

The two key domains that are typically at the top of employees’ agendas are:

  • Personalisation in reward schemes
  • Personalisation in learning & development offerings

Another benefit that People Analytics offers is attrition prediction, especially for top talent. With the current robust analytical capabilities that exist in the market, Predictive People Analytics can be used not only to define what triggered attrition in the past but also to define and predict future attrition scenarios. By understanding which top employees are most susceptible to attrition and what are the factors that can drive them to seek alternative employment opportunities, HR leaders can take the necessary preventive measures to mitigate the risk of employee turnover and minimise any costs associated with talent loss. This can be done by leveraging Flight-Risk Analysis; a form of People Analytics that calculates the probability of each employee leaving the organisation based on certain sets of independent variables.

By identifying the causes and drivers of turnover, Flight-Risk Analysis can support government institutions in crafting more effective retention and risk mitigation strategies. It also feeds directly into the KSA government’s objective of minimising job rotation amongst government entities.

What do government institutions in KSA need to have in place to enable and ensure effective implementation of People Analytics?

To leverage the real power of People Analytics, there are three key pillars that need to be addressed and continuously improved:

Data quality and availability

People Analytics is founded on data. Denser and cleaner data sets will result in more insightful and relevant analytics to enable confident decision making.

To further enhance their data infrastructure as well as the quality and availability of data, government organisations in KSA can:

  • establish Master Data Management systems by continuing the adoption of integrated IT solutions, such as cloud sourcing and in-memory analytics, that can allow them to embrace effective data sourcing, storage and analysis
  • integrate HR Data Management systems with other institutional systems to reduce data redundancy, and streamline data access and storing to improve data integration and usability
  • focus on resolving data inconsistencies – data definitions, data formats and data values – in order to ensure optimal use of key data to make informed decisions about the workforce.

Data governance

Within highly transformational environments like the one we see across the government in KSA, data governance is a key component for enhancing data quality as it helps ensure consistency and compliance in the way data is collected, stored and accessed.

Data governance practices necessary for maintaining high-quality data:

  • Understanding the value and the real description of the data at hand
  • Real-time summary of data quality
  • Access to primary resources (people and tools) behind data gathering and storage
  • Understanding of the most relevant data sources
  • Set of policies and rules that tie all the data practices together

Workforce digital fitness

“Talent, rather than technology, drives digital transformation. Yes, it is the technology that opens vast possibilities for improving what organisations offer and how they operate… but talent is the most critical enabler for successful change.”

To bridge the gap between the current intuitive approach to HR and the future data-driven approach, organisations need to upskill their HR capabilities while focusing on three main sets of skills:

  • HR domain expertise: having expertise in people-related issues is important to identify which problems need to be solved and how to solve them using data and analytics
  • Data analysis skills: the ability to conduct statistical analysis and modelling – along with the ability to interpret and translate key findings into something that leaders can relate to – is critical for value creation and linking people outcomes to organisational results
  • Technology skills: technical skills are necessary to understand data and data sources as well as to maintain the accuracy and governance of system information, develop scorecards and reports, and manage relationships with technology vendors

When implementing initiatives that upskill the HR workforce and elevate their capabilities, HR leaders should get employee buy-in early in the process by highlighting how HR performance directly links to wider organisational outcomes – cost savings, productivity, quality and customer experience outcomes to name a few.

What are the key considerations for embarking on a People Analytics journey?

Enhancing People Analytics capabilities, at people and organisation levels, is an attainable goal for all organisations. The following five considerations are key for realising this objective:

  • Do we have a well-articulated and clearly defined People Analytics strategy?
  • Is our people data connected, integrated, and well governed? 
  • Are we investing in the right technologies and applications at the right time?
  • How are we upskilling the HR workforce with the necessary analytics and digital capabilities?
  • Are we adopting an effective and agile change management approach to continuously enable and promote the digital journey across the organisation?


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Top talent retention is vital for achieving Vision 2030. Building tomorrow’s HR function with a data-driven mindset will be instrumental for fulfilling this goal and helping organisations improve and create value.

Key areas where organisations can leverage analytical capabilities to enhance top talent retention include – but are not limited to – improving the process and sourcing of quality hires, identifying current and future top talent or ‘hidden gems,’ providing more personalised experiences, and predicting flight-risk of top talent. 

To get the most out of People Analytics, organisations need to address and continuously improve three key pillars. First, they need to continue to enhance their data infrastructure, and the quality and availability of data. Second, they need to ensure strong data governance and policies’ implementation. Third, they need to further develop their HR workforce.

We also presented five key considerations that organisations should keep in mind before embarking on their People Analytics journeys. These include articulating a clear People Analytics strategy, centralising and governing data, investing in the right technology at the right time, digitally upskilling the HR workforce, and adopting an effective change management practice throughout the process.


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Eyhab Abdeen

Eyhab Abdeen

Middle East Workforce Partner, PwC Middle East

Rizk Kandalaft

Rizk Kandalaft

Director, People & Organisation Consulting, PwC Middle East

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