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Author's profile photo Susan Galer

How Analytics is Transforming HR into a Strategic Business Partner

/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/hranalyticssmall_262061.jpgBig-Data is changing how every company department does business and human resources is no exception. I’ve written about the top ten technology trends impacting HR in 2014, and recently had the chance to talk with Mick Collins, Principal Consultant for SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics and Workforce Planning, for his perspectives on one of the most important tools, namely analytics. 

Collins says that the most valuable analytics provide actionable insights throughout the employee lifecycle. “It starts with strategic workforce planning to determine staffing needs in the future. From there, analytics helps companies understand what characteristics make up a quality hire and how to bring them into the organization, followed by developing and engaging these employees for the best performance through retention.”

When it comes to making analytics actionable, it’s the correlations that matter. In the know HR teams can obtain the answers to all kinds of important questions such as:

  • What is the best source for new-hires who have
    the characteristics we’ve identified for company success?
  • Would it make a difference if we paid people a
    percentage more next year?
  • What parts of the employee value proposition are
    of greatest interest such as direct compensation, benefits, and recognition?
  • What kind of people can best help us meet our
    goals: moving into new markets, developing new products or acquiring new firms?

Collins uses as an example SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics and Workforce Planning, which enable HR to bring together historically siloed data across the company in one place to quickly see how investments such as training and development or compensation impact performance, productivity, and customer satisfaction.

Despite the availability of sophisticated technologies like SuccessFactors, many HR departments are still using manual spreadsheets and dated software. What’s more, early adopters are more likely to be struggling with disconnected systems that don’t provide decision-makers with valuable insights they need to make talent management decisions so companies can make the right planning, hiring, training, and performance program decisions.

For HR departments that are typically overwhelmed by mountains of historical and disconnected data, Collins suggests beginning with the right questions. “Take a step back from the data, and ask two to three questions that are most relevant to the company’s business, operational, and functional strategies and risks. Then you can prioritize what data is needed to address those questions whether it’s about recruiting, retention, learning, succession, compensation, diversity, or employee relations.”

According to Collins, short and long-term workforce planning is crucial. “The company has to be strategic, looking two, three, five, ten years out into the future to determine what kind of workforce it needs.”

During economic booms, often people are seen as the greatest asset of a company, viewed as revenue generators. But when times get tough, people can be seen as a cost to be better managed or even reduced. With a little foresight and the right software, HR can help companies smooth out the peaks and valleys while building a more prosperous future.

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