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

Katie Jacobs , 20 Mar 2013

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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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Employees impact Business Value - shock horror!

David Wilson 21 Mar 2013

I also attended both these sessions and we've seen increasing focus on this too from our our research. (By the way, here are my mindmap notes from Jeremy's session - http://delivr.com/2zmjh). Ultimately it confirms what we already know - our employees impact the performance, potential and therefore the value of our companies. This shouldn't be a surprise. The issue is how this can be objectively measured and reported. Measures of "Human Capital" as well as analysis of people performance and capability are viewed by investors as soft (subjective) measures, but this is changing. What is also changing is the potential public nature of some of this data. For many companies, the best view of their human capital may live in public sites such as LinkedIn. Not in their HR system. Other websites such as Glass Door are increasingly being referenced as measures of employee satisfaction. This trend to externalisation of employee data will only grow and HR is not currently at the ball game, let alone ready with the skills and focus to play!

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