How Can HR Adopt an Analytics Lifestyle to Drive Performance?

Many parts of business, including finance, sales, and marketing, are leveraging data and analytics to make more informed decisions. How can HR do the same?

How Can HR Adopt an Analytics Lifestyle to Drive Performance?

9 Sep 2015 by  Stephen Hickey

There is unprecedented excitement about big data with organisations striving harder to use data and predictive analytics to make better business decisions. Finance, sales, marketing, and supply chain functions are increasingly relying on data and analytics to enhance their effectiveness.

What about HR? Is this the last function to truly use data for robust decision making to drive performance?

A 2014 study by the Harvard Business Review found 51% of HR functions surveyed rarely or reactively used data to make critical decisions. Our perspective at Aon Hewitt is that driving value through talent analytics will be a strategic imperative for HR going forward.

How can organisations make better use of data and analytics to drive fast and fact based decisions on their investment in people? The opportunities for improvement are many. Here we present four initial steps that any organisation can start implementing today.

  1. HR functions must start with focussing on business issues. Business leaders tend to focus on large business issues and place prominence on the extent to which people impact them. Business leaders don’t tend to take a functional view of talent that neatly fits with the organisation structure of a HR function; they want answers to talent issues that cut across the traditionally siloed talent processes. Critical performance questions that HR functions need to be getting on top of include – what are the potential talent risks affecting high-impact strategic and operational roles? What makes a successful salesperson or customer service representative in my organisation? Where should we be hiring the best talent from?

  2. ​Ask the right questions of the data your organisation is already capturing. These days, most organisations capture enormous volumes of data on their people but do little strategic value-add with it. Data can be drawn from assessments undertaken in recruitment, employee engagement surveys, leadership feedback tools and salary benchmarking activity to name a few. One could legitimately argue that a business doesn’t need more data on its people until it starts making better use of the data it already has. Organisations, led by their HR functions, should be having conversations about known predictors of performance, generated by integrating existing data. This could include results of performance validation studies into the consistent capabilities of high performers, and how this will help inform recruitment and selection practices. Additionally, employee engagement data, performance and leadership feedback data can be combined to build the profile of leaders that are generating the highest discretionary effort and productivity from their people. These insights will improve the overall quality of future investments in leadership recruitment and development.

  3. Empower front-line leaders with access to data and analytics on their teams, to accelerate decision making. HR no longer needs to be the gatekeeper of insights into a leader’s people. Increasingly talent analytics will be reported in real-time - such as employee engagement data - and this information needs to be placed directly in the hands of the leaders tasked with driving productivity and performance. HR should be doing less data administration and more coaching and consulting with leaders on their talent issues.

  4. Organisations need to establish a rhythm to make better use of talent data in the everyday operations of their business. HR needs to review data on an ongoing and sustainable basis, data collection is not an annual one-time event based on compensation cycles or talent reviews. HR must bring insights to the business before the business comes asking for them.

The question to ask is whether your HR team is leveraging all the opportunites that big data and analytics present.

Start a conversation with us

If your HR function needs help in adopting an analytics lifestyle to drive high performance, get in touch with us today.

Stephen Hickey

Stephen Hickey is a Partner in Aon Hewitt's Performance, Reward and Talent business in Australia and is the Executive Sponsor of its Engagement Practice in Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa. Stephen's areas of expertise include employee engagement improvement, leadership development, talent management and change management.

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Stephen Hickey
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