Marriott’s HR tech director: How to make analytics work for you

We’re inundated with data - but not everything may be relevant

Marriott’s HR tech director: How to make analytics work for you

Are you using the mass amounts of employee data correctly? Maybe not — if it’s not being applied successfully into actionable insights for the business, said Isaac Chin, director, HR technology and analytics, Asia Pacific, at Marriott International.

We’re inundated with data now, especially with all the surveys the organisation is doing to get feedback in these odd times. However, not everything may be relevant or helpful for the business, we found out.

Sometimes, Chin said, some questions or concerns can be answered through a more consultative approach, or simply by talking to other departments in the business. We had a chat with the HR tech enthusiast, who’ll be speaking more on HR analytics in the upcoming virtual HR Technology Summit APAC.

READ MORE: How analytics can improve staff engagement

HRD: Analytics may seem overwhelming to leaders unfamiliar with the field — especially with the sheer amount of data we’re exposed to these days. How can leaders be better at applying the data to their work?

IC: Within HR and outside of HR as well, we have seen a growth in the volume and velocity of [big data]. But I think the most important thing here is to consider and understand what the business needs are.

Frame the issues around the pain points and also what the opportunities are in the business. After understanding that, we can then be ask very sharp questions and have a clear perspective of what [we need to answer].

I think a lot of leaders or even colleagues will ask questions that may not really need data or analytics to answer, or maybe the questions are not sharp enough for us to answer with data. So then it become a consultative approach.

If we follow this process, we realise that, ‘hey, if I can evaluate questions that are very relevant to the business, we can be very sure what data points we need and tell them what's not relevant.

Most of us will be surprised to find that actually we don't have much relevant data to answer the questions that are critical to the business. In fact, a lot of the data that we have may be just be a ‘nice’ and ‘good to have’.

HRD: Some say that establishing key metrics is an important step to managing data and getting the answers you need for your business. How can leaders choose the ‘best’ and ‘right’ metrics when working with data?

IC: If we talk about choosing a metric, honestly it doesn't come out from our team in silo. It's actually a partnership and a process where we partner with our HR business partners and also the CHRO. It happens actually right at the top, because our company believes in a data-driven culture.

In other words, it’s actually easier [for HR analytics team] because I don't need to push or influence the leaders much to set key metrics, because right from the top, across every department and discipline, they will be setting the metrics for the business. It's ingrained in our strategic planning process.

But for organisations who are kind of struggling with it, maybe they need to first get their leaders to have the conversation, explain the benefits of why it's important to have key metrics. For example, it can bring focus and align people’s actions with the company vision or mission.

Maybe the core values are in the mission statement, but if you care about your customers or your employees, what are you doing, from a measurement perspective, to bring that out.

READ MORE: Singapore C-suite unconvinced about analytics

HRD: Please share some advice for leaders keen on getting into people analytics.

IC: It's important to have a clear vision and focus on what you want to get out of analytics — again, it all goes back to the business needs and how HR can support the business.

And then moving one level down on how analytics in HR or people analytics can support that priority, solve that problem or the issue, or take advantage of an opportunity. Having a clear vision is important as it also gives people a direction. So the team knows where we are going and it keeps things moving.

Going one step at a time helps. Start small with easy reporting and dash boarding. And then slowly work to model projects like a proof of concept. And then, do a cross-department or cross-function project review.

That's really related to talking about strategy — and the HR strategy is really a business strategy. There's no separate strategy from the business.

In fact, I believe all other departments shouldn't have their own strategy, it is the business strategy. Whatever you do in your role or department is to support the business strategy. It’s just that, for HR [for example] our focus is on people.

Also, I think the attitude of contributing and supporting the business strategy [helps]. For me personally, sharing the executive team’s perspective and relaying that message back to my team helps because it gives them an understanding that, ‘hey, this is important to our leaders, so maybe we can do this analysis, collect this data, and maybe this will help.’

Click here to register for the upcoming HR Tech Summit APAC to hear more from Isaac and other industry thought leaders.

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