Latest Digital Trends and Business Transformation Stories from the Middle East

What HR really does – and could do

Alex Doneth Dodds
Program Manager, ERPM

What does HR do? From an outside perspective, it’s easy to simplify an incredibly complex function down to ‘they look after the people and the paperwork’. After all, despite being essential to any company, HR professionals have not been in a position where they can elevate their role to shaping business objectives – until now. Connected data and data analytics open up  the opportunity for HR to directly map talent in the world and measure the impact of its recruitment – and other policies – on the business objectives.

Here’s how Alex Doneth-Dodds, Programme Lead at Oracle, explained this in a recent conversation.

In the HR department, data is produced constantly. From payroll to training programmes, recruitment reports to performance review information – it’s generated and stored in vast quantities. But most HR professionals don’t feel confident with data.

According to one of our recent surveys  , 27% of our HR respondents are highly confident in the amount of data they have to manage, and only 35% feel highly confident in the security of their data.

Why do you think that is?

I think it could be because data and analytics are generally still associated with the IT team. Or maybe the commercial analysis that goes on in the finance department. Or perhaps the digital campaign measurement of marketing? The difference with HR data is that it’s focussed on a company’s number one resource: people.

And if people are your most valuable resource, then you want the very best people, doing their best work, as productively and happily as they can. In other words, you want market-leading recruitment, training, and performance enablement, as well as job satisfaction.

So, what do you usually see in HR departments at top companies?

The best HR teams constantly review data and analysis, pulling out insights on everything from talent gaps to educational trends, engagement levels, and workforce dynamics. And by analysing, measuring, and quantifying the ‘human resource’ of a business, it’s possible to look after this asset more intelligently – and build tools that can help.

Can you give us a few examples of places where this is already happening?

Sure. So, after running some combined analysis of job application and employee performance data, one of the largest mobile providers in the US found that college grades actually aren’t that important for talent selection. Instead, evidence of sports leadership and teamwork is far more important when it comes to predicting future employee success.

And the Royal Bank of Canada developed its Embark app to help new employees bridge their pre-joining and post-joining experiences at the company. Now they can connect with their managers, team mates, and HR from the outset, and this helps to set them up as engaged, informed colleagues.

Any examples you can think of from outside North America?

Absolutely. Lane Crawford is a luxury retailer in Hong Kong, and it uses collaboration and learning software for continuous staff development. Combining this with data analytics, it allows the organisation to track and tweak as needed, and make sure staff get what they need, when they need it.

In conclusion, what’s your key takeaway when it comes to data and the HR department?

Real business value comes from making successful decisions. Those decisions are based on timely, accurate insights, and those insights are born from data. If HR can embrace this, then it can deliver unparalleled value to the business and become a strategic partner at the same time.

Come and visit us at an event close to you to discuss the value data can bring to the HR function.

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