Something is changing in human resources departments across the world. It is a case of out with the old and in with the new. The duties of these departments are the same as ever, but the methods and means by which they handle those duties are different.

Analytics and data intelligence are here. Nothing will ever be the same again.

The most important resource – the most valuable asset – that an organization has is its staff. These teams of employees are what make any company tick, and so, they need to be managed, deployed appropriately, and, of course, looked after on a personal level.

It is an ancient rule almost as old as business itself: look after your people, show that you know and care about them, and they will know and care about you. This is still relevant, but, with so many technological advantages now available to an organization, there is no excuse not to gather and apply this knowledge and understanding.

This is why today’s personnel department must be data-driven. There is simply no other way to manage our human resources.

Focus on People, Not Roles

Josh Bersin is a human resources analyst and expert with over a decade and a half in the game, and even he was surprised by the sudden widespread adoption of analytics and Business Intelligence protocols within personnel departments.

Bersin shows that – even compared to only one year previously – uptake and adoption levels of analytics really began to soar in 2015. He draws light-hearted comparisons to the Brad Pitt film Moneyball; a true life tale of baseball coach Billy Beane who utilized numbers and figures to fashion the Oakland Athletics into a lean, mean winning machine, a comparison also made by The Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein. In effect, this is what personnel departments are doing; they are using Big Data to get the best out of the people in their team.

This data gives HR departments the ability to work more effectively than ever before. Whatever they need to know, the data can tell them. If they need to go back into the archive to commission a report, they can; if they need to cross-reference that report with future projections from predictive analytics, they can do this too. The capability and flexibility of these departments has been blown wide open.

What is the result of this? Well, the result is a shift; a shift towards the management of people, not of roles. This is the personal touch which HR departments have always dreamed about, and now it is here.

The Personal Touch, on a Big Scale

A personal touch is all well and good, you might say, but my organization is a huge one! How am I supposed to keep up the personal-level communication throughout the entire structure of my company?

Through analytics and through data insight, of course. This is where I was going with this: the implementation of analytic systems within HR departments gives these departments far greater reach than ever before, dramatically revolutionizing the efficiency of these departments.

Let’s have a look at how this works in practice. Let’s imagine there is dispute between staff members at a large paper merchants. Raw paper material must undergo quality control checks and then be delivered to the loading bay for transportation to the finishing plant. At this interface between two departments, a dispute occurred between one of the quality control team and one of the logistical staff. Immediate dispute resolution was ineffective, and so HR’s input is required.

Without accurate analytics, HR are lost at sea. The matter becomes one of “he-said-she-said,” and when HR finally are able to draw upon data from the two staff members’ records, it is found to be incomplete and out of date. Achieving a resolution will be difficult.

But, with analytics, the personnel department is pre-armed. They can draw upon personal details, staff disciplinary records, previous interactions between departments and individual employees, who else was working on that particular job at that moment in time; to put it simply, the information they need is right at hand.

Supreme knowledge, accessible in real time, is what an organization needs if it is to treat all of its staff as individuals and implement management on a personal level. Without the insight analytics provides us, this is impossible.

Staff Retention

The offices of Google – in Mountain View, California – are spoken of in hushed tones. This is the company that people are scrambling over one another to land an interview for; an environment in which – we are told – creativity and innovation can flourish.

But it hasn’t always been this way. Not so long ago, Google had a problem; its female staffers were leaving, in droves. You wouldn’t think Google would be an organization which could be caught short in the data department, but, back then, they were, and they could not understand what was driving the female employees away.

That is, until they applied analytics to the situation. When Laszlo Bock arrived at Google, the firm were in the grips of this aforementioned crisis. Under his tutelage, the company’s HR department was transformed into one which not only reacts to data, but has a direct, personal relationship with it. By understanding the requirements of the female members of their teams, Google were able to make the changes required to keep them in the fold. In doing so, they secured the ongoing input of some of the sharpest minds in the industry.

To retain your best and brightest staff members, you need analytics.

And what of Google nowadays? Well, as we have discussed, Google regularly tops lists of ‘best working environment’ or ‘most sought-after places to work.’ The reason for this is understanding; Google recognized a problem and applied deep insight to rectify this problem.

This has given them a reputation as a company which understands; a reputation which precedes them to this day, enabling them not only to keep their best staff, but to attract them too. This is the effect of a data-driven personnel department.

Image via Pixabay

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