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What Does The Future Hold For HR Professionals?

Last week, I had the honor of delivering opening remarks on Day Three at the Human Capital Institute’s 2013 National Summit in Orlando.

The day promised to be rather intriguing, given that the two presenters following me offered completely different perspectives. First, Chris Johnson, founder of On Target Living, delivered a high-energy presentation on how to establish greater balance in our lives – eat healthier source foods (remarkably, as a consequence of Chris’ presentation, I’m sipping cod liver oil to help my cells regenerate!), get more rest, find time to exercise, etc. Chris had the audience joining him in various stress- relieving stretches, many of which are not easy to accomplish at 9am! After Chris, Nate Silver, renowned statistician and owner of the FiveThirtyEight blog shared a range of data and how it is used to inform decisions, such as using statistical models to track hurricanes.

Feeling a little overawed by the quality of speakers, I kept my remarks brief and to the point! I started out by asking the question in the title of this blog, and then took the audience through a couple of ideas specific to how workforce analytics & planning are increasingly central to the future role of the HR professional.

Below are three key points that I sought to make:

1. On average, surveys have shown that HR professionals devote over a quarter of their time towards serving as a strategic business partner, more than their friends in Finance (who are often seen as the role model for transforming a transaction-oriented function into a true business partner).


2. A competency in workforce analytics is crucial for success in the modern-day HR Business Partner role.


3. At risk, however, is the threat of HR overloading managers with data – instead, managers need stronger insights and recommendations drawn out of the numbers.


Towards the end of the remarks, I outlined three potential opportunities for HR Business Partners to consider as they returned to their organizations:

1. Start with the question, not the metrics – Apply your experience in helping managers think about what data they would need to address “burning-platform” questions about their people, rather than inundating them with reams of data.

2. Use data to educate, not just inform – Teach managers what the data means and how they should use it as part of daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly activities.

3. Link talent data to business outcomes – Without getting too complex, identify what results you are seeking to impact (financials, risks, outputs, etc.) and draw a line back to the talent strategy or decision to which you wish to apply data. My colleague, Kouros Behzad, has just published a good blog on Are Your HR Metrics Relevant?

To everyone who came to the conference, I hope you enjoyed your time there and look forward to continuing the conversation….

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      Author's profile photo Luke Marson
      Luke Marson

      Hi Mick,

      Another great blog post on analytics. The 3 points at the end are very important, particularly the second. Analytics are just numbers if users don't know how to interpret and use them. Even just using them to measure something is not effective use of analytics (that's reporting) - it should be used to help drive a business forward strategically.

      Best regards