This April, I attended the Tucana People Analytics Conference in London. One of Europe’s growing number of events focusing on HR and workforce analytics, the event was yet another reminder of the growing importance of people analytics to HR and the business. A wide line-up of speakers including leaders from Coca Cola, LinkedIn and GlaxoSmithKline was complimented by Tucana’s first technology award ceremony. We were privileged to be one of the shortlisted finalists for the ‘Business Supercharger’ award recognising our innovative and disruptive impact on the HR market.
It’s not the business, but HR itself!
One of the most inspiring sessions I attended at the conference was led by Mark Berry, Chief HR Officer at CGB Enterprises. In his presentation, Mark highlighted why many organisations today continue to struggle with adopting analytics. Debunking commonly-held beliefs, Mark argues that it is the interpersonal dynamics (or “dysfunctions”) and conflicting agenda within HR itself that are impeding people analytics initiatives, not the lack of prioritisation or sponsorship by senior management. According to the 19th Annual Global CEO Survey by PwC in 2016, 68% of the CEOs interviewed support investment in data and analytics technology as they see its value in engaging stakeholders.
Lack of strategic focus is a key issue
Most HR departments do not meet the expectations of the CEOs, as they lack the analytical and business acumen. In the same PwC Global survey, non-HR respondents were 1.8 times more likely than HR respondents to view HR department as simply tactical instead of strategic. For example, on average, strategic initiatives tend to receive the lowest funding from HR despite their impact to the business (HR Trends & Priorities, McLean & Company, 2016) . As a consequence of this misalignment, CEOs tend to seek senior leaders from outside of the HR function to lead the HR department. This should not be the case.
The 7 symptoms of a dysfunctional HR and how to treat them
Mark highlighted 7 symptoms of a dysfunctional HR organisation that practitioners need to watch out for and address. Drawing from his breadth of experience as a licensed clinical counsellor, analytics leader, and senior HR executive, Mark offers practical tips for HR leaders to overcome these dysfunctions.
|Symptom||How to treat|
|CEO bias & CHRO capabilities:
There is disconnect between what your CEO & leadership team need and what your HR organisation is capable of delivering.
|To close this gap, HR leaders must establish themselves as experts in making people the lever of business success. HR must be both business and people savvy – to win the credibility & respect of the CEO.
|Lack of focus on initiatives that matter:
Focus is placed on programmes that deliver little impact to the business .
|To align HR programs with business imperatives, HR’s focus needs to shift from structuring programs to tracking and analysing the measurable outputs of those programs.
|Failure to show measurable impacts:
Your CHRO and HR leadership team lack the capabilities to translate legitimate business imperatives into impactful people initiatives.
|This is where HR could leverage analytics tools to demonstrate the relationship between its initiatives and key business metrics. Transform the business, don’t just report on it.|
|Fear of change:
Your HR CoE are stuck with legacy programmes , few or none of which deliver measurable impact to the business. They fear of trying new initiatives that could generate better outcomes.
|Partisanship, territoriality, and fear of evaluation must be overcome. Recognise that some people will be resistant towards change. In these cases, using analytics to model various workforces scenario could help.
|HR Analytics have been hidden away too much in the organisation
Your top analysts do not report back to the CHRO. As a result, your CHRO has little affinity with your people data and analysis, making it difficult for them to be data-driven when discussing proposal with CEOs (read more).
|Let your top analysts directly report to the CHRO, arming the CHRO with competitive landscape analysis, forecasts, and complex what-if scenarios. To be a strategic partner, the CHRO must be up to date with the analytical reflections of the business, instead of being stuck in every day HR matters.|
|Conflict of resources:
Your centres of expertise – including analytics – compete for the same resources.
|Minimise perceived resources competition between analytics programs and existing
CoEs. Analytics should be treated as an “audit” function that drives impact evaluation of existing HR programs and highlight key improvement areas.
|Office Politics: There is a fear towards transparency. Data can be emotive as it can expose low performing areas within an organisation.||Quantifying the impact of people initiatives & will avoid the politicisation of HR analytics. Once HR starts quantifying the impact of its effort on key business outcomes, it can then start to dispel biases and scepticism.
Creating a strategic and data-driven HR function requires more than investing on the right analytics tool within HR, but also building a culture of collaboration, empowerment, and innovation around data across the organisation.
We are running a masterclass with Ashridge Business School on the 7th of June to help HR practitioners get up to speed with the latest approaches in organisation design and HR analytics. You can sign up here.
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