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  • Prof. Maria Belizon
    Prof. Maria Belizon

    First HR Analytics Ireland Meetup Highlights

      Content Type: Meetup Write Up Language: English

    HR Analytics Ireland (www.hranalyticsireland.com) held its First HR Analytics Meetup last November 21 at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School (Dublin). We were lucky to have HR Analytics professionals of a high caliber, the panel being formed by Patrick O’Donnell (HR Reporting & Analytics Manager in Primark), Jonathan Grant (People Analytics Lead in Bank of Ireland), Ciara Newton (Global HR MDM & Analytics Manager in Kerry Group) and John Riordan (Data Ethics & Analytics Lead in AIB). We talked about ‘All things HR Analytics’, which focused extensively on the journeys of the HR functions they are currently leading. The main highlights were the following:

    What does it take to build HR Analytics Capability?

    • Be prepared that the business does not always know what it wants, needs or the potential of people analytics. Build engagement, relationships and understanding slowly by offering HR things to consider and discuss.
    • Its important that people are interested. HR Analysts need to tell the story of what people analytics can do for HR and the Organisation.
    • Also, learn to take the opportunities when they arise. Find a small thread and start to pull at it to see where it leads. Build interest slowly. Let the data do the talking.
    • Analysts need to understand HR capabilities and capacity for exploring the potential of people analytics. There will be possibilities to explore but also limitations to consider.

    What skill sets do HR Professionals need?

    • HR do not need to be Data Analysts/Scientists.
    • HR do however need to be able to work with HR Analysts to interpret the data. What is this data telling us in the context of the business, with what we already know about the organisation and its people? It requires multiple perspectives to understand what the data is saying. What do we both (HR + Analyst) see in the data?
    • HR then also needs to learn how to turn the data into a story. Data Visualisation is an important skill here, turning high level data into a business case or a story that is easily understood in the context of the business.
    • We can learn much from Agile Project Management – take small slices of data, iterate, work together to learn what it is telling us, what we can take from it. Data is consumable so create the story, make it transparent for the business and then HR can bring it out into the business to make something more of it and create some value from it.

    What was your best HR Analytics Project?

    • A model to predict sales performance because it was the first time we connected the people management data to the commercial data.
    • Our HRIS transformation which has now underpinned our HR Analytics. We have 25K+ employees’ full life cycle in the one system now.
    • Creating a single view of the employees and being able to make that output visual so that we could start asking questions we had never asked before.
    • Gender Pay Gap reporting which has really been driving some interesting conversations.
    • Linking employee engagement data directly with HR Programmes so they can be properly evaluated.
    • Get the best out of the data you have – bring together engagement, performance, pay roll and business metrics and see what it is saying to you. Just get started, don’t wait to reach data maturity, don’t wait for Big Data, there are a lot of opportunities for small projects.

    Does HR need Big Data?

    • No. Get the best out of the data you have – bring together engagement, performance, payroll and business metrics and see what it is saying to you.
    • Just get started, don’t wait to reach data maturity, don’t wait for Big Data, there are a lot of opportunities for small projects.
    • It is more important to clean up and mix the data you have, get that critical mix of data and perspectives.
    • There is a question as to whether or not you bring Business Data into People Data or vice versa. There are ethical issues there but we are only talking about anonymous, aggregated data. We are only interested in the story, what is working, what are the drivers for the business.
    • Find out who is using what data in the business and bring them together and start sharing and talking. HR usually wants to start with Core HR Data e.g. how many people do we have, so start with that and build from there. Work within your existing capabilities.

    Where should HR Analytics sit in the organization?

    • There can be one person in HR Analytics and over the wall Business Analytics have an army! It’s important to tap into the full analytics capabilities of the business as much for HR as any other function.
    • However, if the HR Analyst/Scientist is not ‘within’ HR then they won’t know what to look for. It doesn’t really matter where they ‘sit’ but they have to work closely with HR. They need to be fully embedded in HR whether they sit in there or not.
    • The domain expertise of HR is as important as the analytics expertise. They work together and both parties have to be fully engaged.
    • HR data is different though – not all data is the same. Important to consider the ethical issues and ensure employee confidentiality or anonymity. HR data is complex and confidential.
    • Domain knowledge security is key, HR need to be fully involved at all stages of a piece of data analysis. That level of engagement is more important than where people sit.

    How can Data Analytics help HR?

    • HR Analytics is a huge opportunity for HR. All other business domains are more data literate but it was a journey for them too. Data Analysts/Scientists can help HR on that journey but there has to be interest there, that also has to come from the top of the organisation.
    • HR need to have a thirst for knowledge and most of them do. It is changing gradually. People are getting more used to having data at their fingertips. The business is looking for data everywhere on everything and HR are recognising that. They need to be able to tell the story, they need to be able to develop visualisations and stories with the data. They need to work with the data and with the Data Analysts beside them.
    • The HR Business Partner relationship is critical but they are very stretched.
    • There has to be a business appetite for it and HR Analysts can help build that appetite bit by bit. There are huge capabilities in HR, mixing Data Analysts into that capability will make it easier for HR to progress down this road. HR are not yet savvy enough but savvy enough to know they don’t want to be left behind.

    What is your focus now for the future of HR Analytics?

    • Trying to keep moving the data closer to HR. Engaging with HR, encouraging them to take the data and start to visualise the story it is trying to tell.
    • Integrating more with HR, ensuring ethical approaches, helping HR grow in confidence around those issues of privacy, transparency and accountability of the data.
    • Building collaboration not just with HR but across all domains, data runs across the full business and needs to work that way.
    • Very excited about things like organisational network analysis, employee segmentation, employee life cycle analysis and learning from that data.
    • Building scalability in the HR Data. Using the data to inform Performance Achievement and Succession Planning in particular. Building models for Employee Risk, moving into that predictive space.
    • Profiling our Future Leaders.

    Topic: People Analytics Strategy
    Date Published: 12/06/2019

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