Four Strategies to make Data Driven HR Leaders

By Rich Cober

To stay competitive in today’s constantly evolving landscape, companies find themselves at various stages along the path to being what I call an intelligent enterprise. That is, they’re navigating between how to collect data and how to broadly use that data for day-to-day operations. This is especially true for HR professionals who play a key role in today’s enterprises, tasked with identifying the employees with the right skill-set, nurturing and managing capabilities at a more macro level, with the ultimate goal of leveraging employee capabilities strategically.

HR leaders face a particular challenge with data, because there’s a ripple effect for every decision. Whether they are filling a need or identifying opportunities for growth, the holistic health of an organization often rests on the decisions made by HR – those decisions made better by the savvy use of data. Below, I’ve outlined four key strategies to make data-driven HR a reality:

  1. Identify what data is crucial for long-term success

Every company has unique goals and culture. HR has a unique seat at the data table as it serves as a key support function for every department’s operations through insights on how to best use the capabilities of people .

Companies that are best at people analytics are those that have an HR function tightly connected to the long term strategy of the business which allows for those HR leaders focus on identifying metrics that are likely to persist in value over time.

At the same time, these leaders can think through the variables likely to lead to long term success and develop a measurement and communication strategy that allows departments and businesses to evaluate workforce health while maintaining necessary operations tempo.

  1. Take stock of the tools you have

Understanding the ways that data is collected, stored, and used for analysis is absolutely critical to ensuring the right tools and people are employed to manage a data strategy.

In many cases, HR professionals will find that they already have the data tools they need. This could be a tool as simple as an Excel document for reporting basic departmental information like revenue or profit. It could also be a more sophisticated statistical package or language like R that enables predictive analytics for predicting workforce behavior or business outcomes. Start by understanding what you have to tap into before investing more capital, then look to expand your toolset by knowing your need-based gaps.

  1. Look internally for data champions

Many organizations have the talent to execute on data strategy – they just haven’t realized it yet . Luckily, for HR professionals, they sit in no better place to help identify those resources that will be the greatest asset for a data strategy. Take stock of what talents are needed to execute your strategy, and look inward to determine what employees already have the skills needed. In many cases, you may have numerous employees with the skill-set you need, but are currently working in a different role.

A practical solution could also be tapping the engineers or digital teams that already exist to see if they could focus their work on generalizing for a new enterprise analytics tool or app. The analysts working on department-level reporting could stretch their capabilities by delving into a more enterprise-level analytic platform. Another possibility is to look outward and enlist the help of a consulting partner to build and implement some facets of your data strategy.

  1. Address your team composition

Executing on a strategy doesn’t just come down to having the right people and tools in place – leaders also must ensure every team is structured in a way that gives employees room to collaborate and build analytic capacity. Taking the steps to ensure a dynamic and thriving structure that balances resources with deep expertise with the tools that provide analysis and insights for generalists will help enable world class people analytic practices at the enterprise level.

The role of HR has never been more exciting or central to the success of a business. HR leaders today serve as organizational advisors to the very top of the organization, providing the insight for an organization to transition into a fully intelligent enterprise. Keep these four pillars in mind to execute a data strategy that sets your company up for its future.