THE BLOG

How Important Is Data Analytics to the Future of HR?

22/09/2014 13:02 BST | Updated 22/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Having discussed harnessing social media, enabling internal knowledge creation and leveraging social capital in previous articles, it seems a logical topic to cover next is to address one the key players in this debate and how they interplay with advances in data analytics and technology: Human Resources.

Big Data remains big news to HR so why is it (as was recently noted by the CIPD) "such a big ask for HR"? What is getting in the way? Is HR's work too tied up in the ebb and flow of day to day business issues? How does HR achieve sophistication of operation if they are caught up in administrative tedium? It seems more than this though as the CIPD recently reported that organisational silos, insufficient internal skills sets, suspicion and scepticism from HR professionals, all surround the use of innovative and contemporary data sets.

HR analytics plays a key part in getting to grips with the challenge of containing costs while developing a high performing workforce; the primary issue facing most companies today. But do organisations know enough about their workforce to optimize its success? We all know how HR analytics can benefit talent sourcing and recruitment however it can also add to the wider HR remit including measuring and managing: retention; learning and development; sickness absence and performance data. Looking at the bigger picture, branding, marketing, social media, CSR and the creation of how HR can contribute to operational effectiveness can all be supported by gathering the right HR data in the right way.

Big Data and HR analytics are key to HR achieving sophistication and delivering a broader impact. The CIPD recently celebrated its' centenary and asked HR professionals to comment on how HR can be future focussed. Central to the debate was how HR meets the demands of being strategic in contribution to the business. So how can HR help create lean efficiency in operations and play a pivotal role in a business? Human Resources need to be Innovators and Integrators in organisations; quite simply HR leaders must stay on top of the latest developments in their field and ensure their teams do so too. It is not simply a case of considering how analytics technology can help HR carry out their work more easily. They should also take a broader view, exploring ways they can use technology to better connect people with the company and also HR with their role in strategy.

It seems that organisations are now at different stages of the analytical journey. Organisations such as Royal Bank of Scotland, Unilever, Nestle and Transport for London are leveraging people metrics and insights to improve business performance, employee engagement and satisfaction. Ultimately it does come down to Data vs. Insight - to fully leverage the strategic benefits of HRIS data and human capital analytics, HR Analysts and HR leaders must be able to understand the data themselves and then to communicate the story it tells. The skills of uncovering "insight" and being able to communicate this effectively as a 'story" that correctly influences human capital decisions, is of increasingly critical importance in the global economy.