Data analytics in HR - why we need to interpret the stats

Data analytics in HR - why we need to interpret the stats

Carbon360 insights into HR

There has been a lot of conversation in the HR news recently about using data to perform ‘talent analytics’.

Conversations about HR becoming more strategic in their approach, and about the impact of ‘big data’ started in the late 90’s, but according to CIPD  it seems HR are only really starting to catch up with the trend.

As a data analyst myself, I certainly see the value of decisions informed by empirical data, rather than simply relying on opinion. So, why shouldn’t the same logic apply to people-centric decisions?

According to Dr Jill Miller, research adviser at CIPD, when it comes to strategically combining commercial and HR expertise ‘HR professionals [aren’t] developing the necessary skills early enough in their careers’. She also claims that ‘HR has a crucial role to play in bringing unique insights about the organisation’s people to business debates, informing strategic decision-making’.

So how can HR use data to improve and strengthen their function within the business? As a profession, we seem divided in our opinion concerning whether past performance should be HR’s main focus*.

However, analysing data trends in past performance could be a great place for HR to begin their wider journey into talent analytics. This kind of data analysis could be helpfully applied to improve present performance and engagement, and to make informed decisions about planning future performance and L&D plans. Learning this kind of skill could secure HR’s place as a strategic and informed contributor in wider organisational planning.

Analysing historical data from performance reviews, as well as patterns in goal completion rates and other historical reporting information could really help HR put forward a strong strategic opinion about the way that people should be managed and about how resources should be allocated in the organisation.

The CIPD outlook report found that 47% of HR professionals were unsure that HR’ effectively communicates and interprets people measures to relevant stakeholders’. 

The wealth of data and feedback gathered at appraisal so is so often under-utilised. It can be usefully applied more widely than an annual appraisal meeting.

The ability to easily store, quickly collate and instantly cross reference historical data from individual feedback is a powerful way for HR to strengthen their strategic position, and a great start to a future where HR become a more informed, analytical and powerful part of the organisation.

*Source: CIPD Employee Outlook Winter 2014 -2015 “Concerning HR’s focus being on evaluating past performance, we see a real split of opinion, with 33% in agreement that this is the case and 33% in disagreement”.

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