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Human Capital Management

Keep Calm and Analyze On

When it comes to metrics, human resources pros can’t lose their cool.

by Christine Mellon

February 2016

Human resources excels at advising. As champions of change management processes, HR encourages leaders to accept change; to identify benefits and bravely forge ahead into the unknown. HR inspires others to embrace new ideas and approaches and to welcome progress.

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Yet when it comes to the nascent field of talent analytics, HR may need a dose of its own guidance.

Traditionally, HR practitioners have not been the passionate change agents for analytics that they need to be. Not surprising, since most HR professionals do not graduate from scientific degree programs with competencies in statistical or predictive modeling. But HR professionals are as accountable as their non-HR colleagues for acknowledging necessary shifts in the profession and incorporating new approaches and ideas with enthusiasm.

Most chief human resources officers (CHROs) understand the urgency behind data. They have talent and skills deficits to close and increasing turnover to mitigate, and they face intense, global competition. For any HR leader, knowing where and what your capabilities are is an urgent matter. Effective use of talent analytics can inform and accelerate the achievement of business strategy through optimal workforce leveraging.

Perhaps it is time for human resources professionals to take some of their own change management advice by following these three, concrete steps toward analytical HR:

  1. Create a sense of urgency. Most CHROs or HR executives understand the urgency behind data. They have talent and skills deficits; increasing turnover; and intense, global competition. Any organization feels the urgency to know its capabilities, and enterprise leaders must communicate this to the whole HR team.
  2. Create and communicate a vision. Effective use of talent analytics can inform and accelerate a business strategy through optimal workforce leveraging. Guiding operational decisions with data-fueled intelligence on talent yields a major competitive advantage.
  3. Create quick wins. Inertia may be the ultimate paralyzer in HR’s quest to become more proficient in analytics. Practitioners are afraid they are too late to the party; that they have been leapfrogged by other organizations. They aren’t sure where to start, what to measure, or how to apply insights. And they are afraid to fail and expose a perceived deficiency to their leadership team.
For any HR leader, knowing where and what your capabilities are is an urgent matter. Effective use of talent analytics can inform and accelerate the achievement of business strategy through optimal workforce leveraging.”

There is a tsunami of data in the enterprise. So getting started with simple correlations will lend confidence to your HR team and lead to more-advanced hypotheses to test. Some common examples of correlations include:

  • Performance ratings and retention
  • Compensation increases and retention
  • Quality of hire and source of hire
  • Training scores and performance appraisals
  • Training scores and number of promotions
  • Percentage revenue growth and percentage head-count growth
  • Candidate variables/factors and new-hire success
  • Percentage increase in revenue or operating income and percentage increase in employee engagement scores

Don’t be intimidated by what other HR organizations are doing. Deloitte states in its report Global Human Capital Trends 2015 that HR and people analytics are “stuck in neutral,” noting that “too few organizations are actively implementing talent analytics capabilities to address complex business and talent needs.” And those that are ahead of the curve all started where you are right now.

Photography by Shutterstock