Is HR hindered by a lack of focus?

Employers are well aware about the benefits of big data but one industry figure says there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Is HR hindered by a lack of focus?
Most HR professionals are well aware about the benefits of big data but relatively few are using it to their full advantage – here, one industry expert explains why a lack of focus may be to blame.

“While the vast majority of HR professionals have heard about the importance of big data, year after year, more than 80 per cent of companies continue to report that they have no analytics capabilities inside HR,” says Tracy Smith, president of Numerical Insights.

“Of those that do have analytics capabilities in HR, some struggle to show value with it. This struggle comes from a lack of focus and prioritization on answering the right business questions with data.”

Smith – who has been formally identified as one of the “Top 50 Global Influencers in HR Analytics” – says organizations sometimes fail to focus on the specific areas which will be of most value to them, opting instead to gather data which they don’t really need.

“Each company faces a unique set of workforce challenges and therefore the value in answering each type of business question will also be unique,” she explains.
“For example, if a company has a very high termination rate, there is value or money to be saved in using analytics to guide a root cause analysis of turnover.

“For a company with a very low termination rate, there is little to be gained by using analytics resources to study turnover. The company with low turnover should focus their analytical efforts on a different business problem.”


Smith – who has over 25 years of experience in mathematics, statistics and data visualization – will be holding a session on big data at the upcoming HR Tech Summit.

There, Smith will offer practical advice on how HR professionals can use big data and analytics in a truly strategic way while discussing how employers can also use data to gain a better understanding of their workforce.

More information on the event, which will take place in Toronto later this year, can be found online.

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