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5 Things We Learned About HR Technology From IDC’s Megan Buttita

On January 21st, Visier’s GM of OEM and Mid-Market, Zack Johnson, and Paycor’s Senior Manager of Product Marketing, Kelly Silverman, met with IDC Research Director of Emerging Trends, Megan Buttita to discuss the future of HR trends and technology.

Megan’s background as a talent acquisition and HR practitioner over the past 16 years includes industry research, labor market analysis, and competitive intelligence. Learning about HR data strategies from a research expert was a fantastic opportunity for our team—and for other experts in the HR space. If you missed the webinar live, you can catch the on-demand here

Here are the top 5 takeaways you need to know from an IDC analyst:

1. HR leaders are losing time and efficiency to HR reporting

HR reporting is no longer providing enough insight and information into your workforce. Most HR leaders say that reporting in spreadsheets, BI tools, or built-in HRIS reports takes time away from their team. But more importantly, it’s an inefficient way of getting meaningful answers about their workforce. 

Using these outdated reports takes away from HR’s credibility. By not putting your HR data to work using people analytics, “you’re creating inefficiencies throughout the entire HR process, from recruitment to retirement,” says Megan. 

As all HR leaders know, time lost is money lost. 

2. Reporting is not analytics

While people analytics can help to improve your HR reporting function, reporting and analytics are not the same thing. So what’s the difference? In short, HR reporting is taking a static snapshot of your organization at a particular point in time. These metrics are useful for understanding the who and what, but they don’t explain the why and how. Analytics enables you to actually interpret what your data means, and how you can make strategic plans to improve your workforce. 

“With people analytics, HR becomes the interpreter of information: we’re using our gut-instinct and business acumen, then layering that on top of data to tell a story about our business,” says Megan.

3. HR leaders are held back by misgivings about data

Let’s look at some numbers. A recent research report by IDC found that:

  • 70% of mid-market companies believe that data and analytics are important.
  • 62% of mid-market organizations say they are likely to invest in a data and analytics tool within the next year.

We know that technology is important. So why are HR leaders still struggling to utilize data and analytics? 

Many report that they feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed looking at data because they don’t like math. They went into HR to work with humans, not crunch numbers like their Finance department. HR is great at working with anecdotal information, but not with data. 

Megan clarified that HR leaders need to understand that data isn’t about math. It’s about making an observation, and then confirming that with numbers. Collectively, as HR leaders, we need to change how we understand data. It’s not about numbers, and it’s certainly not about crunching them—it’s about what the numbers mean

In the next decade of work, leaders need to learn how to get comfortable with data, or risk getting left behind.

“The adoption of people analytics is really going to make the difference between thrivers and survivors” – Megan Buttita, Research Director of Emerging Trends, IDC

4. A data-driven HR team requires change management

Coaching your team members to be more data-driven helps to take away the stigma around “data is numbers,” and move towards a team mission of telling a story about your people. If you don’t feel comfortable enough with data yourself, identify who on your team is, or seek that capability in your next HR hire. 

This doesn’t mean you need to rush out and hire a team of data scientists in your HR department. Megan suggests that when it comes to growing small teams, hire for capabilities rather than a clearly identified role. Helping your department to become more data-driven is a strategic initiative–not a job title.

5. HR needs to build trust in the new workplace 

Because HR data is fluid and subjective by nature, proving the accuracy of HR data and analytics can be a challenge. When it comes to presenting findings from people analytics to leadership teams, it’s important to learn how to clarify that your data is directionally accurate, rather than flawless and immutable. 

While some facets of HR will require perfect accuracy (i.e. payroll data), most of your analyses can be considered accurate with simply directional accuracy. For example, if your data isn’t spotlessly clean and you have 14 out of 357 employees with uncategorized gender, your male to female ratio will not be perfectly accurate, but you can still make assumptions about gender parity with directional accuracy. 

So how do you prove directional accuracy? Educate your leaders that, while all HR data can be taken with a grain of salt, the importance of your analytics is not the numbers themselves, but the story they tell. You and your leadership team can elect to spend time searching through reports to find and categorize your 14 missing employees from a report… or you can direct your attention to building a D&I strategy that will attract and retain more diverse employees. 

By referencing HR data in more conversations and showing how you’re using it to improve your workforce, you’ll help to build more trust across your whole organization.

About the author: Emilio Ekuba

As an Account Manager at Visier, Emilio is focused on helping organizations of all sizes solve complex challenges through data analytics. He’s passionate about the democratization of data as a means to improve employee and organizational performance. Emilio immigrated to Canada from his home country of Costa Rica and enjoys football (the European kind) and walks with his dog Penny.

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