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Building HR's way of life around data

11 Mar 2015 by  Gerhard Diedericks

There is an unprecedented level of excitement about big data and data analytics in the global market. Everyone’s talking about it, everyone has a view on it, and most organisations we know are working to take advantage of it.

Within organisations, the finance, sales, marketing, and supply chain areas have increasingly relied on data and analytics to enhance their effectiveness and drive robust decisions. Despite the vast advancement in tools, technologies, behavioural sciences, and statistics, HR is the last function to truly utilise data for robust decision making.

Our perspective is that driving value though human capital analytics will be a strategic imperative for HR over the next few years. We believe that HR needs to adopt analytics as a lifestyle to truly evolve to the next stage of driving value to the business through data.

51%25 of HR organisations rarely or reactively use data to make critical decisions

Source: *HR Joins the Analytical Revolution, Harvard Business Review, February 2014


Organisations that are adopting analytics as a lifestyle should be focused on a four step journey when looking to manage and fully utilise data within their firm.

They must start with a focus on the business issues and make sure they ask the right questions. With the right data amassed organisations can then focus on building data-driven narratives built on patterns and insights from the data. This narrative, combined with the HR professional or team leveraging their business acumen and their broad understanding of talent issues should help organisations to identify the critical few talent indices on which the particular organisation should focus – in line with their set objectives and current business issues.

The final step, and a core principle in making analytics a lifestyle within HR, is to develop a regular and disciplined cadence of reviewing data, metrics and findings. We believe it should become second nature for HR to explore key metrics each month/quarter, select insights from the data, and be able to proactively consult with the business on ways to move the needle and monitor results when specific interventions have been put in place.

While there are huge expectations from big data and predictive analysis in terms of the impact they can have on organisational effectiveness, we are seeing and learning that organisations cannot just make big investments and hire data scientists in the hope of getting stared on their analytics journey. In order to truly gain a return on investment, we think organisations need a long-term roadmap and a phased plan for their data and analytics journey.

For more information on analytics as a lifestyle download the whitepaper ‘An Analytics Lifestyle’ here.

Gerhard Diedericks

Gerhard Diedericks is a Principal in Aon Hewitt’s Performance, Rewards & Talent team. Gerhard specialises in strategy execution through people and has worked with leading ASX 100 companies to help them untap the potential of their leaders and employees to successfully lead strategy execution.

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