Investors are more interested in HR data than ever before, says Morgan Stanley executive director


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Investors and senior directors are more interested in talent data than ever before, but HR departments might not be primed to deliver, Jeremy Shapiro, executive director at Morgan Stanley said yesterday.

Speaking at the HR Tech Europe spring warm up in London, Shapiro said that a trend towards more integrated reporting (where companies report on elements like sustainability and talent management as well as financials), plus a rising awareness of how engagement links to performance, meant that senior executives were starting to expect more of their HR data.

He added that HR departments needed to seize the opportunity of presenting their people data more strategically. "Strategic use of data probably doesn't take more effort than you're doing now," he said. "But it requires new skills from HR."

Getting the question right is crucial when deciding what to analyse or predict, he told delegates. "Be clear on the question," he said. "Cloudy questions get cloudy answers and CEOs aren't cloudy people."

But as HR becomes more au fait with data, he urged delegates to remember HR is "still about people". "Treat data with respect," he said. "Behind every statistic is a person."

Matthew Hanwell, from NorthgateArinso, also speaking at the event, said that HR departments must get a better handle on big data. But any analysis must be connected to business strategy. "Think about what analytics you need to answer the questions that your business is asking," he said.

He added that HR professionals needed to think carefully about how to interpret data. "HR reporting is like an x-ray right now, black and white and in 2D," he said. "It should be an MRI scan, allowing you to plot, scan and drill. This requires a different set of skills to interpret."

Both Hanwell and Shapiro added that "data scientist" will become a job role we will be seeing in HR departments sooner rather than later.

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