Friday, April 17, 2015

Is HR Really Slow in Adopting Analytics?

Leveraging analytics is an important approach to harden the “soft” culture and lift organizational maturity.

HR can contribute if they have the data analytics to show people trends, productivity, engagement metrics, costs-savings, etc. That also can help make the human capital aspect less volatile, more predictable, and less ambiguous for the business. However, many HR organizations are slow to adopt analytics because there is little understanding of analytics among HR managers who seem to think that the mean is everything. Staff who pushes analytics find themselves rebuffed time and time again. How to speed up HR for applying analytics to achieve business result more effectively?

It is important to build a high level analytics strategy: The lesson is to make sure that we take the managers on a journey and constantly demonstrate the benefits of statistical analysis for planning, measuring and monitoring organizational progress. Building such understanding is a tough call when the bottom line is the main consideration. In fact, technology and data are not barriers at all, a high-level analytics strategy with the right-level of sponsorship is what matters. The issue is less about HR knowing who to hire and if they access to the talent. It is about creating a value proposition for analytics folks to join HR (pull factors). The more is the awareness, the higher will be the take-up.

Buy in from your stakeholders is key - but that in itself isn't exclusively an HR issue; it’s an issue all analysts face. It’s important to work for a leadership team who are engaged and see analytics as a journey, not a destination. HR analytics is supposed to help line managers achieve the targets, because often line managers do not have sufficient faith that HR can help solve their analytics problems. In fact, in many organizations, line managers have little faith that HR can solve any problems beyond the transactional issues; basic data collected and not analyzed is futile; good low hanging fruit is attrition analysis; if you could establish a strong trend of attrition amongst a set of level that is crucial, you would get enough points for proposals to build your case for HR analytics.

There may be a chicken and egg dilemma. As long as HR metrics/analytics is seen as being a separate activity from HR functions and processes themselves, it’s difficult to have buy in or interest. And yet in the establishment and ongoing presence of HR analytics, a special group needs to be concerned and focused on making things happen. All HR management needs to see their corner of HR from an informational or analytical perspective. In other words, understand HR not just from a methodology standpoint- but understand it from data process viewpoint. What information is used as sources of input, what happens systematically during HR process to the information abstraction, and what sort of process information outputs occur. Unless HR managers live or breathe the informational part of the HR world, it’s difficult to get buy-in.

Overcome HR inertia: Although HR is the “steward” of the most invaluable asset of company - people, sometimes it is perhaps the root cause of culture inertia. If you want to get HR staff to buy in to analytics, you need to treat it like a cross country race. When the ground is clear and the view uncluttered, you can run flat out and get the quick wins, but other times the terrain makes you more cautious, but also more determined. You have one advantage over the runner though, you can determine the order of the terrain that you tackle. You can take the easy terrain first, the quick wins, and the less fit runners can keep up with the pace. Then, as the terrain gets harder, you provide more support to the teammates and complete each section together.

People are the only thing that differentiates any organization from another. If you take the premise that HR is the shepherd of culture (shared with leadership), then HR is in the greatest position to change culture. Leveraging analytics is an important approach to harden the “soft” culture and lift organizational maturity.


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