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When dealing with analytics, “start where the pain is”

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Earlier this year, The Conference Board and Mercer partnered to launch a virtual platform, called Workforce Analytics Institute, designed to help HR professionals move from standard workforce planning to sophisticated workforce analytics.

We speak to Rebecca L. Ray, Ph.D., executive vice president for knowledge organisation and human capital practice lead at The Conference Board, on the skills HR professionals need to make use of the data available to them.

Based on your recent research with Mercer, which areas of workforce analytics do companies require most improvement in?

While we are just beginning our joint research, our individual efforts lead to some of the same conclusions. All organisations are somewhere on the journey between taking the first step and arriving at the destination.

Many are doing some really advanced work in linking their analytics work to solving business issues.

Most, we find, still struggle with building internal capability, building internal partnerships and determining the right methodologies and frameworks to address the business challenges that are worth tackling.

What skills are required from HR directors and their teams to effectively use the data available to them?

Three things for teams – expertise in analytics, an understanding of the business and an appreciation for the art of human resources.

For the leaders, they need to understand the business, understand the business challenge and know the right questions to ask.

How can line managers be roped in to build buy-in to a workforce analytics initiative?

Like every change management initiative, start where the pain is. Find a business line leader to help, partner with him or her to find a solution and then tell that story to others.

But you can only do this after you have the capacity to deliver and have built, borrowed or bought the human capital analytics talent you need and you have built frameworks that will work in your organisation.

If finding talent is a challenge (and it is almost everywhere), labour market data as well as internal talent acquisition data can be fertile ground.

To be effective, workforce analytics have to be integrated into all talent management processes. Can you build a checklist for companies doing that?

Rather than a checklist, begin a phased approach for implementing analytics into every part of the human capital programmes. Build slowly and carefully so that the overall approach is consistent and that work done in one area can be leveraged in another.

Start where you have pain points as well as access to data. For example, if finding talent is a challenge (and it is almost everywhere), labour market data as well as internal talent acquisition data can be fertile ground.

What is a big challenge HR professionals in SEA can expect to grapple with this year?

Human capital analytics and accelerating leadership development will continue to be challenges.

Image: Shutterstock

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