HR gets analytical

by Iain Hopkins11 Sep 2012

HR's analytical tools have come a long way from the haphazard insights gleaned from Excel spreadsheets. A new report has suggested that a new era of advanced workforce reporting will transform the HR function.

Advanced workforce reporting and analytics is shaping up to be one of the key trends in HR according to a global report from Deloitte, ‘Human Capital Trends 2012: Leap Ahead’. As noted in the report, although many organisations have been using workforce reporting and analytics to assist in making more informed decisions about their human capital, many of these insights have been retrospective – prescriptive rather than predictive.

Advanced analytical tools and techniques, such as predictive modelling, make it possible for organisations to glimpse into the future and make informed predictions that they can then develop into targeted solutions. Organisations are reducing labour costs, improving productivity and employee effectiveness and managing risk more efficiently by capitalising on the latest workforce reporting tools and analytic techniques.

Nicky Wakefield, Deloitte Consulting’s national leader of human capital, said that advanced analytics is helping leading organisations retain top talent and increase their leadership pipelines by looking deep into their workforces to anticipate which employees are most likely to reach the top.

“Our workforces are often global and more complex, so advanced analytics helps HR and business leaders cut through complex issues, such as controlling labour costs, generating more value from the workforce and offering valuable insights using useful workforce data.”

Earlier this year, Eugene Burke, chief science analytics officer at SHL, told HC that prescriptive analytics will get organisations only so far. “HR need better data that’s going to tell them about what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday,” he said.

Burke urged HR professionals to transform the way they look at and interpret the data they already often have at their fingertips, gathered from the recruitment process, from 360-degree reviews and other sources.

“You’re not extracting the best information from that data. It’s not a ‘use once, throw away’ kind of piece. You can use that data in a more aggregated way to get a much better picture of the people profile. Don’t just transact with it, use it in some way to answer those questions.”

The Deloitte report identified five important issues when organisations are using workforce reporting and analytics:


  1. Start small and build momentum. Use data to drive practical decisions so organisations can start to see the value, making it easier for additional investment.
  2. Focus on capabilities, not just solutions. Desirable capabilities include the skills to design the analytics, interpret findings and then translate the findings to actions.
  3. Leverage existing technology investments. Use the systems and data currently available with better integration and controlled access.
  4. Consider cloud to jump-start the effort. Costs, lead time and capital expenditure can be reduced using a Cloud vendor to host reporting and analytics infrastructure.
  5. Use what you learn. Reporting and analytics delivers insights to enable smarter decision making so business leaders can effectively manage a complex and increasing global workforce.


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