Why it’s important we mind the gap between the HR analytics haves and have nots

Our recent report on the use of Workforce Analytics, released last week, revealed that the landscape of HR technology is bumpy at best. HR Magazine summed up the report succinctly in its article entitled ‘Organizations failing to prioritise workforce analytics’.

Our research, carried out in conjunction with Expedite Consulting, surveyed 150 senior business and HR leaders, of which 48% saw analytics as critical to business success, yet 38% had little, basic or no understanding of workforce analytics at all.

It was a surprising set of statistics that revealed quite how far HR still has to go in terms of engaging, managing and supporting the workforce. Though appreciative of how increasingly critical analytics are becoming to the modern workplace and HR’s strategic objectives, almost half of the business leaders we spoke to found that they lacked confidence in their team’s ability to interpret data collected, or were implementing systems inadequate to meet their needs. In fact, only 6% rated themselves “very satisfied” with the tools they were using.

Commenting on our findings in her article for Diginomica, Janine Milne said the lack of confidence and skill around HR analytics was “concerning, but perhaps not surprising”, but noted that “without those skills within HR…the full business potential of workforce analytics will never be met”.

It’s certainly a troubling issue, then, and perhaps most surprising was that although so many appreciate the importance of analytics to their business success, and so few are actually satisfied with their current analytics tools, a massive 62% of those we surveyed had no plans to invest in new technology.

This demonstrates a very serious shortcoming in the attitudes of businesses to their HR functions, and the ultimate failure to understand analytics that Diginomica noted in its article.

Workforce analytics, if used effectively and imaginatively, can offer sophisticated solutions to a range of people problems. Its potential is virtually limitless, scaling from the most basic to most complicated HR functions – here are just a few:

1. Basic: Tells you what has already happened in your workforce – for instance, how many people do you have working for you, and how diverse is your workforce?

2. Operational: Tells you about your onboarding – what is the average time to hire? What is the average time to onboard? Who are the top candidates for promotion, based on formal and informal recognition?

3. Strategic: Tells you how to plan – where are the biggest skills gaps? What resourcing and training plans are in place to manage closing those gaps before they adversely impact the business?

4. Predictive: Tells you what could happen – how many people do you expect to leave this year? What percentage of those will be key employees?

5. Prescriptive: Tells you want you should do – how should you manage succession, salary and resource planning if too many key people are leaving? How can you improve productivity if levels remain low?

6. Workforce Experience: Tells you how engaged your employees are – how do engagement levels vary across the organization? How can those results provide actionable insight for management?

As our survey revealed, 61% of business and HR leaders are already using analytics to drive decision making. But how much more HR analytics could be doing to help businesses is obvious, and it’s imperative we as an industry close the analytics gap to take HR functions to the next level in the very near future.

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