The "big data" and/or "analytics" buzz have been around for a while now and have clearly made a major impact on many things. However, in HR, I'm not entirely sure what kind of impact it has made. On some level, I think the big data buzz, at least, pushed HR to be more strategic and to think more strategically. With the increased emphasis on data brought on by the big data movement, it led many, including HR to be analytical and to use data and evidence to make informed decisions and develop strategies.
That all makes sense to me but what is HR's relationship now with data? How did big data move the needle for HR? How is data necessarily driving HR decisions? And how is data-driven decision-making aligning to company strategy and company success? Was all that buzz just another fad for HR to follow? Was it just another way for HR to stay relevant or keep its existence? And if HR measured those things like cost-per-hire, attrition, or j..., what does any of it mean? Were they just reports that HR produced to impress the executives? It is time to revisit where HR is in terms of how it is coping with big data and/or analytics. What has your HR department done to grapple with analytics? Do you have the latest and fanciest analytics tool? And if you do have nice graphics and reports, what do they all mean? How are they informing decisions? Or are they informing decisions? And with all this data analytics, how are you ensuring the metrics align with strategies? If you are quantifying engagement and job satisfaction, how are you correlating those with company success? Do you need to inject statisticians or economists into your HR department so that they can work with your data and develop algorithms and predictive analytics? And do you need to build sophisticated algorithms in HR?
I think that by revisiting HR analytics at this point and asking some of these key questions, we'll be able push HR analytics to the next level. Now that we know that there is "big data" out there (and they're not always "big" in HR), and that we can quantify and measure many of the HR-related activities, it's time to make sense of the data. One thing that made the analytics game extra challenging for many HR departments is that HR is unique. HR, by nature is not known to be as quantitative as the finance department or as good in handling data as the IT department. HR, historically, is known primarily for its administrative functions, for being the experts in pay, benefits, recruiting, etc. But now, with this so-called 'big data' movement, HR has the opportunity to be seen as more of a strategic partner. Now that with our data and reports, we got the attention of the executives and they have now granting us a seat at that table. We must now don our strategic hats and think strategy. It's a lot more than head-counting or manipulating spreadsheets or putting together fancy presentation slides. It doesn't always have to be about big data, although the big data movement deserves some credit for pushing HR to think data. Sometimes small data is just fine and insightful. We need to think more about the insights that we, as HR professionals, bring to the table. After all, we are the HR subject matter experts and should be the most knowledgeable about attrition or about job satisfaction. And when we sit at that table with the executives, we need to know how HR is making an impact on the company's strategy and the company's bottomline. We need to be able to deliver insight and demonstrate what all this HR analytics means. It is a lot more than reporting what the human resources look like but it's about making the connections and understanding the relationships. It is good that we can describe the data but there's an opportunity for us HR professionals to move beyond the descriptive data and onto being more predictive and ultimately being prescriptive.