‘Grab hold’ of analytics or get left behind, HR warned

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HR must "grab hold" of analytics or risk being left behind other functions, an expert warned yesterday.

Speaking at the CIPD’s HR Analytics Conference in London yesterday, Laurence Collins, director of HR and workforce analytics at Deloitte, said the HR profession needs to “decide how much we want to do this”.

“The conversations are not moving fast enough,” he said. “We are falling behind the curve, [being overtaken] by functions in finance, supply chain and operations. How much do we really want to grab hold of analytics as an enabler for improved HR? How far behind are we as a profession?”

According to Deloitte’s recent Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report, 86% of companies report no analytics capabilities in the HR function and 67% rate themselves as weak at using HR data to predict workforce performance and improvement. Only 8% of companies said they have strong HR analytics capabilities.

Collins advised HR departments to think about how analytics can contribute to “value creation”, rather than focusing too soon on predictive analytics. He, and other speakers, all agreed building HR analytics capabilities is “a journey”, with most companies at the starting blocks.

“Build a sustainable foundation and find one or two projects where you can go play in a business-impactful way,” he said. “That will give you permission to go back for more and builds credibility.”

Get the basics right

Andrew Thornton, head of HR reporting and analytics at Standard Chartered Bank, said HR needed to get the basics right first, including the long and often torturous job of cleansing data and defining “golden sources of data”.

“The dull staff is important to get right, or you’ll end up building your house on a swamp,” he said.

He added building HR skills in understanding data was key if the function is to gain insight. “There’s no point wasting time and money creating brilliant reports if you give them to people who can’t read them,” he said.

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