Data drives a revolution in HR

People data and analytics are vital if organisations want to stay competitive in today’s fast-changing digital economy

Lucie Mitchell

Mar 22nd 2019

Data drives a revolution in HR

Chief human resources officers increasingly realise that HR data and analytics play a vital role in the success of a company. HR data can add value to organisations by providing insight that supports decision making, drives business strategy and enhances employee wellbeing.

“Understanding data that can help support areas such as recruitment, retention, workforce planning and training is crucial for organisations,” says David Green, a globally respected influencer on people analytics, data-driven HR and the future of work. “Also, employees expect a similar, personalised experience at work as they get as consumers, and people data is the foundation of that.”

Adoption of HR analytics is rising. A 2017 Bersin by Deloitte report found that 69 per cent of organisations are now building a people analytics system. Meanwhile, research by LinkedIn in 2018 revealed there has been a 61 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of people in Europe, the Middle East and Africa with HR analytics listed as a skill on their LinkedIn profiles.

However, to ensure it leverages data effectively, the HR function must begin with the business problem and ensure it relies not just on HR data but on business data too, says Mr Green.

“Start with the right business problems – and that means actually understanding the business and what it is trying to do – rather than starting with the data,” he advises. “If you work on the right business problems, and identify the right stakeholders within the business, you can get access to other business data and blend that with HR data to gain further insights.”

Done properly, HR data can have a huge impact on the business and its ability to meet strategic goals. However, to ensure its sustainability and to drive long-term success, a data-driven culture must be created within HR. Central to this is improving the data literacy of HR teams, which isn’t always easy. According to Bersin by Deloitte research in 2017, HR professionals in almost 60 per cent of organisations don’t have basic data literacy skills.

“Typically speaking, the skills required for analytics aren’t always found within an HR function,” says Mr Green. “In the more successful organisations, people who are data scientists, statisticians, or people who have worked in other analytics functions in the business, are coming into HR and applying those skills.”

That said, the future for HR data looks bright. “It’s all moving in the right direction and some of the new technology that is coming into play really helps drive and personalise the employee experience – and analytics is core to that,” Mr Green says.

“In five to ten years, we possibly won’t even be talking about people analytics as much because it will just be a core part of what HR does, and I think it’s really important that HR gets behind this if it wants to raise its impact within the business.”

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