First Reference company logo

First Reference Talks

News and Discussions on Payroll, HR & Employment Law

decorative image


HR and IT: An uneasy alliance

HR is being called on to focus primarily on strategic goals and to add increasing value to organizations. The other field that has become an integral part of business is technology. It is therefore not surprising that in HRs effort to become increasingly relevant, IT is being leveraged in the execution of the HR function in an increasing number of ways. This e–HR revolution has taken many forms, from applicant tracking systems, to machine learning in recruitment and selection to software driven onboarding and employee HR support. The consequence of this is that more and more HR activities are being executed electronically—by a computer instead of by a person.


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The power of data visualization

With so much HR and Talent data at our disposal, its critical that we come up with ways to distill the volume into manageable and meaningful chunks of information. A key way to do this is via data visualization. It seems common sense, but why then do we still attend or present at meetings with slides consisting of rows and columns of numbers, or text–heavy slides with a crude chart or two as illustration of the points? Why do annual reports favour flat data, charts and lists, and heavy text explanations?


, , , , ,

HR data: Go beyond the tip of the iceberg

Workforce data is everywhere. In all different formats using multiple languages, inconsistent terminology, and living in different systems. Given this complexity, it’s not surprising that most HR & talent teams access and utilize only a small portion of their data’s power. This is the data that’s visible, on the surface, and easily reported. But this is only the tip of the iceberg…and below the surface is where we really need to focus to deliver results for the business.


, , , , , , ,

Ontario Privacy Commissioner releases BYOD policy whitepaper

Employees have taken work home with them on laptops, portable media and via email for many years. Since the advent of the smartphone, however, the scale of the practice has expanded dramatically, and data is now more likely in workers’ pockets or purses than on their desks at home.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Understanding top talent

When I hear people talk about top talent, I get reminded of the elusive (and sometimes voodoo) experiences that I had in the past in corporate environments when identifying top talent.
I have to say, it always conjures up memories both good and bad.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HR analytics process: Ask better questions

Every HR trend report I have read this year has a focus on analytics and data as one of the top 5 trends. Having helped this field emerge over the last 5 years this was rewarding to see. At the same time I was struck by the gap between the level of expectation about the returns from HR analytics and the current level of practice that we see. In short, to meet the expectations of business leaders in relation to HR analytics we are going to need to get very focused and very effective, quickly.


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The winds of change: Making HR measurement happen

The momentum behind measurement in HR is growing and what I learned from the trip indicates that one of the drivers of change has shifted.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HR Metrics: “Data suppresses anti-bodies”

I came across the title of today’s piece in Guy Kawasaki’s book “the Art of the Start”. It has made me smile for the last week. The quote elegantly expresses why HR practitioners need to be measuring. Here is why


, , , , , , , , , , ,

Start with firm foundations to obtain stable HR data

I am often contacted by human resources groups and analysts looking to take their work to the next level and discover the next great insight. Often they are seeking some holy grail or mystic equation that will simply answer the complex questions that human systems create. This is a worthy and powerful quest and one which is moving human resources groups and the organizations they serve into a better and more productive position. Unfortunately…


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Strategy misaligned to HR

This week I was helping a colleague figure out what their HR data was telling them and how to put this into a report. The first place to start was the organizational goals and where they wanted to get to.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The HR long game

For many in the human resources function, every day is a series of reactions and responses to events. The experience of work is the constant juggle of urgent demands to hire people, sort out employment issues, deal with grievances or conflicts, resolve pay demands or other requests. All of these activities are important and urgent and place an immediate call on our attention and action. This experience creates a habit, where new information is reviewed with a bias to action or crisis. If there is nothing urgent or important here then the information can be ignored—there is nothing to do…


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Data vs. uncertainty

One of the main barriers to a good decision is uncertainty. This is especially true when…


, , , , , , , , , ,

The cost of measurement

Once you have a reputation as a “measurement guy” you get a lot of speaking requests. Recently I was asked to speak on a wellness topic. In the end I declined because even though the measurement aspects of the question were clear, I did not have the knowledge of the topic to deliver well. The request got me thinking about the costs of measurement. Often this is an area that is not considered when people get into the question of finding data.


, , , , , , , , ,

Let me compare thee…

To achieve the best of both worlds it is important to align your data with common standards that are most likely to provide the opportunity for like with like comparison and like with unlike comparison. This creates the capability to compare in a way that confirms your performance or compare in a way that pushes your performance. As with all data and analytic practices the right thing to do is the one which moves the performance needle for your organization. The more HR can do this AND demonstrate this the better.


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why measure HR?

The most frequently used analogy when it comes to measuring HR is that of driving a car without a speedometer: how would you drive if you did not know your speed?

The deeper we look into HR measurement the less satisfying this analogy becomes. The basic premise that you need information to perform well is correct. However, when you have a speedometer and you are going too fast, your actions are obvious – you take your foot of the gas pedal.

This direct link between information and action is not the case for HR.


, , , , , , , , , , ,