Why HR directors should think like economists

by HRD15 Nov 2017
What would an economist do? It’s a question that more and more organisations are asking themselves.

Economists are good at making sense of markets, trends and behaviours and tend to be experts in collecting data and analysing it. They also develop forecasts on a large variety of topics such as business cycles and employment levels.

Tech companies are increasingly hiring economists and economic teams to advise on strategy, build or improve on products, evaluate economic impacts and build brand awareness.

So why should HR directors start thinking like economists?

To use data to help employers and job seekers find each other
“We’ve quickly gone from a world where there was so little data or information on what’s going on in HR to a deluge of data today,” said Tara Sinclair, an economist with global job site Indeed.

“What we need now is to develop insights from all this information.”

Putting workforce trends into a broader context helps employers understand whether there is something specific about their recruitment strategy or if others are facing similar challenges.

By keeping abreast of data and research trends (and even collecting their own data like economists do), HR managers can become aware of trends such as whether more individuals are looking for flexible working conditions or if candidates are looking for positions in certain locations, and can tailor their job offerings accordingly.

To build credibility and become a thought leader
Economists often use a company’s data as the basis for developing fresh insights about the sector or market the organisation operates in.

With increased competition in the marketplace, companies need to utilise research both for their human capital but also to be prepared for broader changes within the corporate environment. HR directors can communicate these findings via white papers, research reports, blog posts, articles or even by sharing snippets on social media.

To sort the myths from the truth
There are many myths that get perpetuated around the water cooler.

Having a savvy HR director who thinks like an economist and draws on hard data will inform an organisation’s knowledge about how the workforce is actually evolving. “We often hear that everyone is moving to either a start-up or a gig job,” said Sinclair.

“Nope! Actually today people are more likely to work for a large company than they were in the 1970s.

Sinclair also points to overblown myths around millennial workers being job-hoppers (“Nope!”) and the idea that technology is changing our economy faster than ever before.

“It’s true that we’ve got all sorts of new technology and more than ever before, but its growth rate is slowing and that has lots of economists concerned,” she said.

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