Using Analytics (and Creativity) to Solve Key HR Business Challenges - Highlights from an Interview with #SHRMPeopleAnalytics Speakers Dan Anderson and Rick Grant



“It was my understanding that there would be no math.” The infamous Chevy Chase quote (as he portrayed Gerald Ford on Saturday Night Live in 1976) is probably true for many human resources professionals when it comes to people analytics. The thought of mathematical analysis instills fear in the hearts of practitioners across the country. And yet, HR professionals need to be intimately involved with an analytical understanding of their impact, the progress of talent and the organization’s overall success, to name a few.

At this year’s first SHRM People Analytics Conference, Dan Anderson and Rick Grant, from Adaptalytics, will be walking attendees through an approach to analytics. Dan Anderson, as a recovering economics professional, first went deep into analytics for his Master's program final project. Dan uses his finance background to help frame some of the business challenges that an HR professional should understand. And his partner, Rick, after a tenure at IBM, has been an entrepreneur for quite some time. Rick can speak to the ownership perspective and identify true organizational need, particularly through analytics.

I had the chance to chat with Dan and Rick regarding their upcoming session at SHRM People Analytics. It was a great conversation!

What do you see as being some of the issues in the current approach to analytics as it pertains to HR?

Dan: So often, enterprise metrics are misaligned to enterprise goals. It’s not that senior leadership doesn’t understand what it needs to do; it’s that they don’t use the right metrics to confirm achievement. What is being measured and why? What does that metric really tell us?

And where does that put human resources?

Dan: HR needs to look at its people data and optimize analytics. For instance, breadth examination is crucial. Tactical considerations: how long do tasks take? How long should it take? Benchmark and then establish success metrics for teams. And further, can the systems then handle the requests to measure? It might be a good idea, but if technology won’t support that measurement accounting, what will we do? These areas are often not diagnosed deeply enough before trying to put something into place, hence the tendency to misalignment.

Rick: IT gets handled much of this, but is it handled well due to the amount of changing requests? We can exasperate resources because we don’t have clarity around what it is we actually need to measure and analyze.

So that might mean HR needs to find resources to help understand analytics, right?

Dan: Right. We like to say, “If you have data and a problem, we can solve.” Expertise is very often needed. If you’ve not been exposed to analytics, experienced in data gathering or how to tell the story of it all, then you might need to find help. HR should be looking for those resources.

Rick: And there’s, also, the addressing of bias. Putting resources into place to minimize bias, often through multiple people analyzing data, is a worthy technique. Human resources can mediate the numerous viewpoints offered by our diverse talent through analytics to determine veracity, and then put strategies into place to achieve and measure organizational goal success.

Be sure to join Dan and Rick for more in their session, “Using Analytics (and Creativity) to Solve Key HR Business Challenges” on January 14 at 1:15PM during SHRM People Analytics Conference in Seattle.


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