I attended the Australian Human Resource Institute’s national convention last month and no fewer than three presentations reminded us that Big Data and HR analytics is one of the biggest trends in HR right now. But how do you move it from ‘trend’ to ‘practice’ within your organisation especially if you work in a smaller company or have limited IT or financial resources?
As I discussed in my last post, if you don’t begin to crunch your numbers the CEO will be asking Finance or IT for the information and you will be left out of the discussion with limited influence on building strategy.
To begin using an evidence based approach to making better decisions related to the people side of your business, start with the basics. In the language of analytics, these first steps are referred to as metrics or descriptive analytics. Regardless of what they are called, these are the most important first steps if you have not already done this.
Know your baseline
Pull out your Excel skills and get crunching. What do your demographics look like (age, tenure, gender)? What about turnover and who is turning over: people you don’t mind losing or your high performers? If you have some data on safety or absences, have a look at these as well and break them down by age, department or time of year just to see if there are some interesting patterns. If you’re under 500 or even 1000 people, you don’t need anything complicated at this point to do your own analysis. Ask for some help from the accounting department if you aren’t confident in your spreadsheet skills.
Make it Visual
Put your information in graphical form – stacked area charts, bar charts, pie charts, etc. Trends will be easier to spot in graphs. Can you see the peaks and troughs in your tenure chart? Do they correspond to the growth and contraction cycles in your business? Is your growth occurring in entry level roles and with younger employees or is it spread out? Is your turnover happening across the board or just in newer employees or one particular age group? Don’t be afraid to analyse the same information in 3 or 4 different ways to understand your employee population better.
In a company I audited years ago, their tenure graph showed an obvious dip in employee numbers which coincided with a downturn in their industry. Analysis at this stage does not have to identify significant outcomes but it will help you visualize trends.
So you’ve uncovered a few interesting trends based on your historical and demographic information. Now is the time to start asking questions as to what might be behind some of the data outcomes. Do corporate or HR policies explain some of the trends? Are there obvious results or implications you can address now? Are there any changes you can make to see how it impacts your trends over the next financial quarter?
As an example, the following chart outlines the turnover experienced in a manufacturing plant I was analysing as part of a merger. There was an obvious issue with their recruitment process for them to lose 90% of new recruits within 90 days of hire. Immediate changes were made to the recruitment and on-boarding processes.
Congratulations! You’ve taken your first step into the world of analytics but don’t stop here. Now’s the right time to consider expanding the data points you capture and filling in some holes in your growing database. Don’t worry now about whether your data is 100% clean or complete. If you already have nothing, better to know your ball park range than to be frozen doing nothing because you want perfect data first.
The next article will look at Step 2, sharing your data via reporting and dashboards and looking for correlations.