Data-driven HR is a hot topic in the industry today.
With articles like Harvard Business Review’s “It’s Time to Split HR,” written by world-renowned business advisor and author Ram Charan, and “Will HR Lose the Battle Over Analytics?” written by industry analyst Karen O’Leonard, HR leaders are seeking ways to hit key business objectives using workforce analytics.
The global economic recovery, compounded by demographic shifts, is moving power from employers to employees and turning labor into a seller’s market. As a result, the workforce is becoming an increasingly core strategic consideration to businesses — one that requires a fact-based approach to properly manage and develop so it can deliver on business results.
The need for workforce analytics is vital; managing your workforce has never been more complex:
- Labor costs are increasing
- New jobs, hiring, and time-to-fill are at their highest levels in five years
- Voluntary turnover is on the rise (driven by decreasing unemployment rates)
- Talent is more globalized and diverse
- Some industries now rely on contract workers for up to half of their workforce
These are just a few of the talent trends that are driving organizations to adopt a more “scientific” approach to decision-making about people.
[Recommended Read: Why Connecting Workforce Outcomes to Business Outcomes Matters]
What Is Workforce Analytics?
The infographic below describes workforce analytics as the art and science of using data to discover and share insights about your workforce — leading to better decisions. According to the annual Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey, “organizations with workforce analytics outperform.”
As Lexy Martin, a veteran HR technology analyst and thought leader, described in her post, The Value of HR Analytics: Why Every Company Should Be a Quantified Organization, organizations that are data-driven in their decision making have a 79% higher Return on Equity than all other organizations, which “[suggests] that leadership in HR analytics enables outperformance.”
Indeed, companies that are leaders in workforce analytics experience:
- 12% greater talent outcomes
- 30% higher stock returns than the S&P 500
- 3x improvement in realizing cost reductions and efficiency gains
Workforce Analytics At Work
Here are some examples of the answers workforce analytics provides that help organizations outperform their competition:
- What are the bottlenecks in the hiring process?
- What recruiting sources deliver the most top performers?
- Are we hiring the right people at the right cost?
- Who is at risk of leaving?
- How can we retain critical roles and top performers?
- Who are our next leaders and how do we get them there in time?
- How does Total Rewards influence productivity, resignations, or performance?
- What is contributing to our cost increases?
- How can we ensure our investment in total rewards is contributing to our bottom line?
- How does our talent strategy align with our business strategy?
- How do we get a total view of all our people data?
- How can I answer questions at the speed of the business?
These insights enable HR to optimize talent management and workforce development so business key performance indicators can be met — and exceeded.
[Recommended Read: It’s Time to Move Up the Workforce Intelligence Maturity Curve]
Workforce Analytics Challenges
For most organizations, while the desire to answer such questions is high, the capabilities to connect the data, uncover the insights, and deliver them to the business in a timely fashion are low. There are a few reasons why:
- Workforce data is siloed across multiple systems
- Connecting and relating inconsistent data is complex
- Integrating historic data with daily transactional data requires advanced Big Data technology
- Aligning on standard measures to use across the organization can be near impossible
- Figuring out the right business questions to ask, finding trends, making connections, and predicting outcomes requires both HR and data expertise
- Delivering insights through dashboards and reports to stakeholders is time-consuming
The right workforce analytics software makes it possible to overcome these challenges. A solid analytics tool should work “out of the box,” connect all your disparate HR systems, and answer your most pressing business questions — even the ones you didn’t think to ask — at the touch of a button.
Furthermore, the solution must make workforce analytics easy enough for even the most non-technical business user to access, but still have the level of sophistication the analysts on your team need to support their ad hoc queries and communication.
Aim for HR Greatness
It’s important to note that for the answers provided by workforce analytics to have meaning, a solid understanding of the business is required. As Dave Ulrich put it: A lack of business acumen will hurt any business leader, including those in HR: if you don’t know “why” business decisions are being made, you cannot connect decisions to business outcomes.
To be great in HR, you need to pivot from looking from inside the business outwards, to looking from outside in.