The challenge for HR analytics is not data – it is the mindset

13/07/2012 at 12:18 22 comments

I have written specifically about HR analytics in my last few posts because I am very intrigued about it. On one hand, I freely admit that I am a big believer that HR analytics can add a lot of value, not just to HR and to the quality of its decisions, but also to the organization itself . I don’t know if HR analytics is the answer, but there is still much which suggests that HR is still not an important strategic partner in most organizations. On the other hand, I also experience many companies struggle with HR analytics. They don’t get the most out of it.

The challenge for HR analytics is not the software. I am no expert, but the few solutions I have examined, seems to be able to do the basics of what analytics is supposed to do. There are many times compatibility issues with existing IT solutions and often major problems with the quality of the data going into the programs. That leads to the issue of “garbage in – garbage out“. But in reality, I don’t believe this is the biggest challenge.

The challenge is also no the people in HR analytics. Again, I have not met all – or indeed that many – in the field, but my overall feeling is that they know how to retrieve, analyze and present data in a fairly good way. They understand data manipulation and care a lot about getting the right data and converting that to useful information.

The challenge, as I see it, is with the mindset – specifically the mindset of the HR executives. Let me explain. Potentially, HR analytics can get you as many facts as it is even possible to conceive. It is also able to give you a ton of interesting information – i.e. converting  data and facts into information (note the difference between the two!). But the most difficult thing – and the most value-added – is to find and convert the right information into  strategic actionable knowledge. And the only way you can generate this knowledge is to truly understand the business and strategy of the company, know what the primary workforce drivers are behind delivering on this strategy and finally understand how to get information and convert it into strategic actionable knowledge. This ability – or mindset – is not always present.

This must come from someone within HR. Top executives don’t always know what they want from HR or HR analytics. In general, I believe that they are quite excited about the prospect of what analytics can do (although many confuse it with metrics and normal reporting), they like the concept and some actually  ‘get it’. The problem is, that they don’t know what to ask for and how to use it. Frankly, many times not even the head of HR know what they want from HR analytics. So, someone in the analytics, management information, HR data (or whatever the department is called) must have this mindset, ask the right questions and deliver value added knowledge in the form of analytics.

This challenge represents an opportunity. As I stated at the top, analytics is a tool which can help HR add significant value. To utilize this tool requires a strategic mindset. Master this, and reap significant rewards.

Entry filed under: Analytics. Tags: , , .

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22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ljubica  |  14/07/2012 at 08:19

    Mindset,yes, you have it or not;innate and cultured.
    Have a very flourished day!

    Reply
  • […] albeit one with more potential than most. To get the most out of HR analytics you must go through a strategic data process and decide what data is of strategic importance to you and how they ideally look […]

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  • […] second group is concerned with the mindset of HR. They also don’t believe that HR ‘get it’ but they are concerned with it from a […]

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  • […] previous post I argued that the quality of Master Data is the very foundation of quality HR analytics. I also argued, that HR must take proactive ownership of their organizations’ Master […]

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  • 5. The paradox of HR « All about Human Capital  |  01/10/2012 at 11:46

    […] am not sure why. From my chair, I see a lot of improvement; improved practices, new mind-set and focus on value creation. That is why I am surprised that the latest surveys have not improved […]

    Reply
  • 6. Andrew  |  16/10/2012 at 23:17

    Hi Frank, nice post.

    Been doing the analytics for about 10 years now, with 20 years of HR generalist before that to inform me.

    There is a systemic problem, that being that “HR types” are people people, and consequently very few of them understand analysis, numbers, data etc. Sure we can push, but my experience is that it is equivalent to pushing a certain substance up a geographic incline, as the old saying goes.

    There is only a tiny percentage of human beings who have facility with numbers/data and also the human skills. I’m one of them. It’s a bit lonely out here ……………………..

    Reply
  • 7. Irma Doze  |  20/10/2012 at 06:45

    Hi, I like the post, but do not completely agree. As a good analyst you do understand the business, work together with HR, you keep asking until you have the real question, then analyse, and you deliver conclusions and messages, even propose steps. Reactive and proactive! That is what a good analyst does, and then it will activate HR. This is how it worked in marketing, in sales and also in HR, is my experience.

    Reply
  • […] HR data. HR analytics face many challenges – many of which are psychological and rooted in the mindset of HR – and some misunderstandings about what HR data can do persist. Let me express three common […]

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  • […] found with a lot of the “evidence” in HR – especially in emerging areas (such as HR analytics) – is that it is produced by people who have a vested interest in the […]

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  • […] 5: The challenge for HR analytics is not data – it is the mindset […]

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  • […] all the systems to talk together, to clean the data, to get the legal issues sorted, to understand what data to collect, to get the right master data, to avoid bad data and so on. With exception of a few leading […]

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  • […] HR a science or an art? You might think that with the advent of Workforce Analytics, Performance Management, tests in recruitment, ROI measurement and much more that HR is becoming […]

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  • […] more evidence-based, more financial orientated and yes, more of a science. I was at a Workforce Analytics conference in London earlier this year and most of the participants were men. I am making a lot of […]

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  • […] And its limitations lies not with the software and the tools themselves – they lie with the mindset of the HR executive, the biases of the people using it and with the level of trust HR has within the […]

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  • […] of the right mindset. As with EB-mental health, many in HR don’t really know why this is important. “We have […]

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  • […] think it is fair to say that Workforce Analytics, HR metrics and Big Data in HR is firmly on the map now. It is one of the key trends in global HR […]

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  • […] I have written specifically about HR analytics in my last few posts because I am very intrigued about it. On one hand, I freely admit that I am a big believer that HR analytics can add a lot of val…  […]

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  • 18. Rchilliparser  |  11/03/2014 at 06:25

    Reblogged this on Rchilliparser and commented:
    We need to have actionable outcomes from data that helps in bettering services.HR,indeed will have a huge impact by this.

    Reply
  • […] that. We should have the data. We have the software. We have the clever data people. But do we have the insight and the incentive to find the right […]

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  • […] with analytics – it is just not very strategic. Tactical at best but most often operational. The strategic mindset is often not present. The second reason is that HR is mainly strategic when it is working outside […]

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  • […] The challenge, as I see it, is with the mindset – specifically the mindset of the HR executives. Let me explain. Potentially, HR analytics can get you as many facts as it is even possible to conceive. It is also able to give you a ton of interesting information – i.e. converting data and facts into information (note the difference between the two!). But the most difficult thing – and the most value-added – is to find and convert the right information into strategic actionable knowledge. And the only way you can generate this knowledge is to truly understand the business and strategy of the company, know what the primary workforce drivers are behind delivering on this strategy and finally understand how to get information and convert it into strategic actionable knowledge. This ability – or mindset – is not always present.  […]

    Reply
  • […] reality was far from that picture. Bad data, incompatible software, data illiteracy and a lack of a data-based strategic mindset was rather the norm than the exception. And worse, it left practitioners disillusioned when leaving […]

    Reply

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