Why HR Analytics isn’t sexy


Lately I’ve been finding it hard to find time for that essential HR professional task of reading People Management. But the latest issue’s opening gambit by Peter Cheese struck an extremely relevant chord with me. I totally agree that the importance of HR Analytics is currently being bypassed. It’s not even the cup of tea for most HR professionals I know (cue many fake yawns when I announced my excitement at attending the Tucana HR Analytics conference in April) so heck knows how we’re supposed to get managers on board.

To me one of the biggest barriers is understanding. To start with, understanding what on earth HR Analytics is and what it’s all about. I think I kind of know but… Those power hungry people all love the mystique created by knowing something we don’t (and perhaps being able to sell expensive conference tickets off the back of it). Those of us not in the know tend to smile and nod (and look it up on Google afterwards) rather than reveal our ignorance.

Years ago I worked with someone who was the perfect example of the standoffish aloofness of knowing something you don’t. Her pointless task was process mapping, which boiled down to tedious hours spent drawing diagrams and then talking about them in even more tedious meetings. She spoke only in acronyms. We all need to produce ITLs and enter them into TAP & etc. For some reason I can’t remember what exactly she said, so that’s made up (but then what she actually said at the time probably was too). My point is that HR Analytics is much too important to be turned into the kind of exclusive club it’s in danger of becoming.

Smiling and nodding isn’t going to cut it with those managers we need to engage. But then again, neither is aloofness. It’s a hard enough sell to those who think the HR service is a waste of space full stop. This is where real value-added, multi-dimensional, futuristic HR comes in. We can certainly earn our stripes, if tackled in the right way.

Managers have their pressures, and performance management forces them, out of necessity, to become outcome focussed. It could be like process mapping all over again – employees don’t want to waste time talking about what they do, they just want to do it. HR taking this on face value and making Analytics insular only makes things worse. It’s definitely not something we just “do” to other people.

I view it as traditional workforce planning, but a more joined up approach with all the benefits of complex data analysis that modern technology can bring. It’s certainly not sexy but I find it less scary to think of it that way. But hey, I’m no expert and maybe I’ll have to eat my words at the conference. Just hopefully no smiling and nodding…

nb. I’m not promoting the conference mentioned above but I have a booking discount code for any other HR geeks out there who are interested

One thought on “Why HR Analytics isn’t sexy

  1. Great blog. Couldn’t agree more. The opportunity analytics holds for HR and subsequently the business is enormous. Having the right tools to make it less scary, more engaging and accessible for HR, Managers and the board is definitely the key in this. Analytics solutions which achieve a ‘consumer’ user experience will really be the winners here.

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