While Big Data and analytics surrounding it have been spoken about as the ‘next big thing’ in the recent years, the focus has been on general data. When we make it more specific to people data or data related to the workforce, the results are unimaginable. That is because it demonstrates the hidden and untapped potential of data pertaining to our talent.
Due to the number of channels that data is sourced from and the types of data elements, HR is possibly the corporate function with the highest amount of data – this data comes in many forms. A lot of it is unstructured and in text when we receive it. Some of it is numeric but needs to be sifted through. Combining these kinds of elements in a seamless manner and analyzing them to arrive at information which can be used for business decisions, are the gap areas. So while there are organizations that might not understand the implications of HR data, those that do understand are also not harnessing it to its maximum capacity.
Here is a quick look at what are some of the high impact, business decisions that HR Data has an influence on.
1. Allocating resources optimally– One of the most important aspects of HR Data is to give an in-depth picture of how current and future people resources can be allocated to business. It is not a simple exercise in terms of fitment depending on business needs and resource availability. It is an extremely complex data-driven process which factors in the ‘right’ resource fitment, not only based on immediate business requirements but also cross-validates it with data on the individual’s potential, developmental needs and career aspirations.
2. Formulating workforce strategy – Raw data on headcount and turnover can actually have huge impact on defining the overall workforce strategy, especially in global organizations. Multiple buckets of data possibly from different businesses or locations can be viewed together to get a comprehensive picture. This can then help to take key decisions on talent transfer, global mobility, career paths and so on.
3. Restructuring the HR framework – The foundational processes within an HR framework can be restructured to improve their efficiency, by using HR data. So employee data can be analyzed for better screening of potential candidates and thus improve the hiring process. Data on past performance, inputs on aspirations and motivators can enable HR to create better engagement initiatives, as well as identify high potential performers with more precision. These can result in significant savings when it comes to financial investments. Similarly when age and gender data is collected and tracked, it helps to plan for a more inclusive workplace. So from identifying talent to uncovering concerns, HR practitioners are using talent analytics extensively in India, but there is still scope for further work.
4. Being market-competitive and internally equitable– There are many practices such as those related to pay, compensation and benefits, or those related to diversity which need to be compared against the market. But they also need internal comparisons with the organization’s own data points, in order to create fair and equitable work practices.
5. Establishing strong skill-based networks – Learning and skills based data can be used to create knowledge communities, internal mentors and experts, in-house learning mechanisms, focused skill-gap assessments and so much more. All these initiatives can be derived from analyzing training data applicable for your employees and an organization-wide learning environment can be developed with much more ease.
These are just a few of the ways in which HR data can be put to practical use if practitioners visualize the analysis it can yield and the application it can have. Here are some more areas where people data visualization can help.
One excellent example of how people data was used for business results is Google’s Project Oxygen. Months of research using data that had been collected in the past, resulted in identifying what kind of attributes made managers highly effective. This data was then used in different learning and development initiatives, so that overall manager performance and behavior improved. The cascading effect of that was employee retention and better performance, both of which have a direct impact on business results and organizational performance. This is also an example of how innovative, deductive and intuitive reasoning on the part of HR has come together to yield path-breaking solutions.
People analytics is all about balance. It is about being inherently aware of knowing when to use data to deduce and when to use it intuitively. It is also about embedding human elements into the data, without the bias factor. HR practitioners need to have that foresight which helps them envision the long term implications of this data.
Learn more about how you can leverage the data and the business intelligence tools, join us at SHRMTECH’17 for the Key Note Address on Extreme Makeover: The Data Visualization Edition with Christopher Arnold, The Data Whisperer. Register Now!