Harnessing HR data to power the organisation

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Written by Armin Hopp on 19 April 2016

HR departments traditionally hold most of the data available on the organisation’s key resource – its people.

This ranges from personal information such as address and medical details through to data on training and performance management. Increasingly organisations are also collecting data from engagement surveys and from employee participation in incentive schemes and collaboration systems.

Learning and development professionals can now harness structured HR data such as name and address.

It is combined with less structured data that indicating levels of engagement to inform their approach to each individual employee, offering the development required to provide meaningful career development that will benefit both the employee and the organisation.

The HR sector is about to see a massive, transformational shift to the new generation of integrated HR and talent tools in the cloud, driven by the need to improve the employee experience and harness people data.

This is according to the latest predictions by Bersin by Deloitte, whose research found that 73 per cent of HR organisations it surveyed want “integrated data and analytics.”

Big data for learning and development

Yet Speexx research found that using ‘Big Data’ in HR for learning and development will be a big issue for 16 per cent of respondents to a survey it carried out of HR directors and L&D professionals around the globe.

Almost half (44 per cent) do not use Big Data to support learning and development but 39 per cent plan to do so in the next three years.

Some HR respondents to the Speexx survey (25 per cent) expressed concerns that they might not have the know-how to collect and use data effectively, but a greater percentage (30 per cent) felt that lack of management buy-in was the main issue.

Starting points to harnessing HR data might include:

  1. Audit all the data types you hold before deciding how to use them. Traditional HR and payroll data is just the start. Perhaps, with the correct policies and privacy controls in place, you can mine training data, performance management systems, corporate incentive schemes or collaborative platforms for data on individual employees?
  2. Keep up to speed with the possibilities for big data in HR. Maintain a dialogue with experts and suppliers about how data can inform your organisation’s development plans.
  3. Address risks head-on. Security and privacy are key issues when it comes to collecting and using personal data, especially for international organisations that must comply with different rules and regulations in different territories. Some organisations allow this complexity to put them off using data to their advantage. HR departments who help their organisations get past these barriers and make effective use of data can add massive value. Crowdsource the knowledge of IT and legal people internally and the expert knowledge of global suppliers externally.
  4. Have a clear idea of the benefits you expect to gain from harnessing employee data. Learner data could feed into talent management strategies that aim to build language and communication skills for a more flexible workforce, for example.
  5. Innovate with data combinations to derive real value. Bersin recommends taking learning data and matching it with other employee data to see where and how learning contributes to sales performance, retention, career growth and leadership development. Its report recommends: “The data you collect on learning should be part of your overall ‘people analytics’ strategy.”

Data and associated analytics is transforming the HR function and putting it at the heart of the business.

Effective use of data enables a closer and more quantifiable alignment of talent management strategy and business objectives.

In our experience talent management is increasingly shaping the success or otherwise of businesses in a global marketplace.

As an increasing number of Millennials enter the workplace, organisations face a new challenge in retaining this new generation of employees, who expect access to the latest technology, constant variety and opportunities to work throughout the world.

Retaining this generation and turning them into the leaders of the future demands an increasingly intelligent approach to talent management and communications skills development. In addition, making best use of the data and technology available to map out a career lifecycle that will help build a globally flexible workforce comprising the brightest and best.


About the author 

Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx.