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HR data: Go beyond the tip of the iceberg

go-beyond-the-tip-of-the-icebergWhen it comes to data, what lies beneath the surface is key.

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.

If we think of our HR data as an iceberg, what goes on above the surface is what we like to call “Lights on HR metrics and reporting”.

This is where we find foundational metrics and standard reporting. Typically, this consists of standard, static, single dimension reports pulled from HR systems (Turnover, Headcount, Time to Fill, Performance, etc.). And while, these metrics are important for HR to understand basic efficiency metrics, they deliver limited value to the business. Unfortunately, many of us spend the bulk of our time here, preparing data and focusing on the things which are only important to us (i.e., HR). Meanwhile, our colleagues in the business want us to help them hire better talent, retain key talent and deliver impactful HR and people programs with great ROI. While this work above the surface is good, it’s not good enough.

We need to go below the surface to begin “Solving business problems with workforce data“.

Under the surface is where ~80% of the value and insight lies. Locked away, untapped or hidden from view. This is where connections across data sources happen, where your hypotheses can be tested through endless permutations, and where business–relevant analytics comes to light.

It’s only when our people and talent data is connected and unified across all of the HR, talent and operational systems—past, present and future—we get to see the benefits and power of the single view of the truth.

If we take the example of “Top performer turnover”, we can see how going beyond the tip of the iceberg yields significantly different insights and results. A unified data set, smartly used by our data driven workforce and talent team, can now help us:

  • Understand patterns around those top performers who left such as tenure, career path, recognitions received, compa– and market ratio, where they went to, the reasons why they left
  • Gain insight into the managers they worked with, the development programs that their managers have been on, their manager career path or recruitment source, whether they received performance coaching and support
  • Drive a more accurate estimate of your cost of turnover (using multiple factors including recruitment and training costs, time to productivity, opportunity cost of unfilled positions, etc.)
  • Understand the demographic differences across this turnover, whether there were stage of life differences (like young parenting years, or elderly parents)
  • Understand and forecast your revenue/margin impact and identify risks of not meeting your business plan o Understand the root causes of the triggers for this segment turning over, when it became an issue and your financial impacts to date
  • Create more accurate plans and targeted strategies for recruitment o Initiate additional research (such as targeted surveys, specific data collection and focus groups) related to top performer turnover in places where it is most likely to occur (i.e., in New York Operations, Business Unit A)

Bottom line, there’s typically a lot more horsepower available in our analytics capability, and the key to unlocking the potential is in delving beneath the surface and moving beyond basis metrics and standard reporting.

To view this blog as an infographic click here.

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PeopleInsight Workforce Analytics

Workforce Analytics at PeopleInsight
John Pensom is CEO of PeopleInsight with 20 years’ experience in the "people" business and gained deep knowledge in how technology, information and analytics drives business and culture change. PeopleInsight is a Canadian company delivering cloud-based workforce and business analytics; it connects and unlocks traditionally disparate HR, talent, engagement, business results and external market data to deliver rich insight through analytics in clear, visually appealing and actionable ways. Read more
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