The CIPD HR Analytics conference in October 2015 had high quality presentations which showed in every case how to connect HR analytics to business impact. It’s a credit to the profession, which is starting to draw real business value from analytics.
Can we do analytics? A change in mood
In the 5 conferences in which I have been involved since 2012, there has been a marked shift in the mood of the HR profession:
- Gloom: our data is simply not good enough, and it’ll be a 5-8 year journey to fix it
- Hope: there appear to be ways forward, we are setting out on the journey
- Excitement: there are tools and methods we can apply
- Insights: we are getting analytical findings that are important to the business
- Intervention: we are making HR or business changes and affecting business outcomes
Who are the HR data leaders and analysts?
Those getting the most from their HR data often come from outside the HR function, and many of our speakers had started their careers in the business, in Finance or IT.
How many analysts do businesses have? HR Analytics is an unusual occupation – usually small teams even within very large businesses. A few of the speakers shared their numbers, and looking at a range of businesses from 9,000 to 94,000 people, the analytical headcount ranged between 1 and 5 HR Analysts per 10,000 employees. (The HR headcount as a percentage of employees was: 1% – 2.7%).
6 key takeaways:
- Dirty Data vs. Clean data: Don’t worry! Often you’ll find it’s clean enough. As one of the speakers said “If
it’s 11 or 12 doesn’t matter; what matters is, is it going up or down?”
- Numbers vs. Visuals: “One picture beats a thousand line spreadsheet every time”.
- One dataset vs. multiple datasets: Better together. Combining HR data with business data (on customer outcomes, real estate costs, procurement spend, sales) multiplies the value of insights.
- Internal vs. External data: the Permeable Organisation. Two companies talked about integrating publicly available LinkedIn profiles into their HR systems. One was trialling using Facebook data to identify existing employees who could recommend (or not) target recruitment candidates and then give them a pre-drafted email to reach out to a recommended contact.
- Single dimensions vs. Linked dimensions: getting insights ‘At Right Angles’ to the original data, such as linking processes to people let one company ‘truly understand the value of customer support’.
- Analysis vs. Action: pretty much every speaker argued that analysis had to be converted to action with measurable impact:
- A media company has “Insight Champions” to convert insights to results, for example, and has halved absence by identifying and acting on hotspots
- A food company changed their Induction method to engage new recruits into their future team long before their actual start date
- A government department changed its approach to advertising jobs to reduce the risk that minority applicants drop out later in the process
- An oil company combined HR data with facilities data to forecast real estate usage 3-5 years in the future
“If you measure it as 11 or 12 it doesn’t matter; what matters is, is it going up or down?”
Jeff Nelson and Nathan Adams, Aviva on ensuring action from analytics
The future of analytics
As chair, I get to throw in some fun ideas from other areas. Three that I mentioned were:
1. Rapid intervention!
Adidas has reduced its fastest cycle time down to 2 hours from inventories dropping to changing its web marketing messages. Could HR adapt this to job postings?
2. The future of HR: Uber?
Ricardo Semler has long advocated a more open and democratic workplace. He recently predicted the collapse of hierarchy in professional services as technology eliminated barriers to providing transactional services.
The same Uber principle could apply in HR: if managers can source recruits on the basis of external data and colleagues’ recommendations, will traditional recruitment go the same way as the mini-cab radio controller? If colleagues can allocate value-added project-by-project and evaluate reputation in the firm, if people reallocate themselves to projects rather than wait to be staffed [as at Liquid Organisation], could performance management, remuneration committees and staffing functions all disappear? HR would then deliver value where it has key knowledge such as employment law, key data such as on engagement, performance, learning and competencies, or via key skills such as strategic organisation design.
My colleague Rupert Morrison has written a book connecting HR Analytics to its logical outcome: Data-Driven Organisation Design. The book, published by Kogan Page on 8th October, and endorsed by Peter Cheese of the CIPD sets out a step-by-step analytical data-driven methodology for making organisations more effective.
CIPD HR Analytics attendees can obtain it via: http://koganpage.com/ddod, entering the discount code: CIPDHRANALYTICS for 20% off.
“Visualisation can turn routine reporting into tantalising morsels”
Ben Nicholas, GlaxoSmithKline
How to get started with analytics:
The HR analytics community have considerable challenges in just getting the data into shape to use. Some simple steps that people talk about when getting the data into shape are documented in this lovely blog, on crunching the data:
You can also see more about getting data clean at:
How to do analytics? Some core HR & analytical tools:
There’s no doubt about it, HR people like to know what kit others have got. Tools that speakers talked about using included (with download links where I have them):
|Tableau: a leading BI tool for self-service HR data visualisations – link||Qlik: platform for self-service dashboarding and reporting – link|
|OrgVue: leaders in transformation combining organisational analytics and modelling link||SPSS: statistical and predictive analytics software built by IBM link|
|Minitab: statistical software for Six Sigma and quality improvement link||R: a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics – link|
|Alteryx: great self-service data blending and advanced analytics link||And of course, Excel and PowerPoint. I hope by the next conference I won’t need to include these!|
It is hugely encouraging to see HR beginning to lead business initiatives. I look forward to hearing everyone’s stories develop next year. If you are interested in learning more about HR analytics stay tuned for my HR analytics workshop with the CIPD on 10th February 2016 or check out OrgVue’s training courses
Latest posts by Giles Slinger (see all)
- Revolutionary change for organisation leaders - November 8, 2017
- The ideal Span of Control – How to see it and intervene - October 20, 2017
- HR Technology Trends to Watch - October 19, 2017