WhyRecently I’ve come across two studies that have been rather critical of the current state of HR Analytics. A recent study by LFR Inc. Human Resources Research Report (http://bit.ly/1il3S63) reports only 13% cited Big Data and Talent Analytics as important. While a Bersin By Deliotte study (http://talentmgt.com/articles/view/study-hr-lagging-on-building-analytics-skills/) found: “86 percent of companies say they have no analytics capabilities in the HR function. Moreover, 67 percent rate themselves as ‘weak’ at using HR data to predict workforce performance and improvement.”

This got me thinking, If Big Data is so important to HR, why aren’t they paying attention?
The operative word here is “why”.

Turns out, I could think of lots of barriers without too much trouble:
• Lack of expectation
• Low skill on analytical practices
• No capacity for analysis
• Immature tools sets with unreliable data
• Lack of process around analytics
• No incentive or motivation
Think about which if any of these things are true in your organization, and I would guess you’ll find at least two that resonate.

Truth is we don’t — and can’t – “do analytics” just because it’s trendy; we have to find business reasons that make sense. With very rare exception, being good at analytics is not a product or service that our company sells; it’s not our core competency. Yet, it’s hard to deny that analytics are critical to determining the effectiveness of the things we work to improve.

“What gets measured, gets done” is backwards. It’s consequence driven. In an accountable, incentivized- culture, Measurement is what tells us the effect of our efforts. The “why” in what we measure has to be integrated into the initiative and has to align with strategic business goals.

According to the annual CEO Challenge study by The Conference Board (http://on.ft.com/QLnYzd), the #2 concern of CEOs in the US is Human Capital, with the following initiatives being top priority:
1. Raise employee engagement
2. Provide employee training and development
3. Enhance effectiveness of the senior management team
4. Improve performance management processes and accountability
5. Increase efforts to retain critical talent

Nowhere on that list is “Get better at Big Data and HR.” Yet the need for analytics is clearly present and critical to the success of each of the initiatives. Regardless of the strategy to move the bar on any of these initiatives, you’re throwing money into a black hole if you can’t find a meaningful way of measuring results.

The classic argument against integrated analytics is that sometimes you don’t need the number to tell you to do the right thing. That’s honestly a legitimate truth in a lot of cases. However, let’s imagine for a moment, that you’ve made great strides on an initiative and made real progress. The next thing to do may not be so obvious, and not having any measurements from the past is going to hurt your ability to make good decisions moving forward. It may not be today, but eventually having good analytics is going to be important.

Low analytics maturity in HR may be an indicator that we are currently focusing on initiatives that have more obvious immediate benefits, but that will quickly change. It behooves all of us to find some legitimate “why” to start improving our analytics practices. The tools may get better over time, but the discipline is never going to get any easier than it is today.

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