April 22, 2016

10 reasons why HR and L&D need to make data a priority

Marketing is doing it. Finance is doing it. Customer service is doing it. Everyone is doing it and have been for some time. But are HR and L&D?

What we are talking about is data – using data to make business decisions, to improve performance, to communicate results and drive business success. Now that technology is so pervasive in our working lives, increasing amounts of data is being generated and that data is proving very useful to organisations.

HR and L&D are lagging behind when it comes to using big data. Yes, we have been collecting and distributing data for some time – how many people attend a training course, how many hours of training are clocked up, attrition rates, absence rates…. – but are we collecting and distributing the right data? A lot of the time, no. It needs to be data on performance improvement, behaviour change, leadership capabilities, etc. It needs to be forward looking, predicting future outcomes.

In its 2015 report ‘Evolving Roles, Enhancing Skills’, benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity found that only 2% of L&D teams are involved with data analytics, although 35% plan to change that. A 2016 report by Bersin by Deloitte, called ‘People analytics. Gaining Speed’, predicted that 2016 is the year that HR analytics will really take off. It reported an increase in preparedness – only 24% of companies were ready or somewhat ready for analytics in 2015, compared to 32% this year. Furthermore, only 4% of companies polled in 2015 said they were fully capable of developing predictive models, compared to 8% in 2016.

Even if HR and L&D are moving in the right direction, there is still a long way to go. With that in mind, we at DPG have come up with 10 compelling reasons why HR and L&D need to make data a priority.

1. Everyone else is doing it.
2. It is not going to go away. Analytics will become even more pervasive, not less.
3. It is the language that business now speaks. If HR wants to be a true, credible business partner then it must have data at the heart of communications.
4. Data is all about trends, patterns and insights. Those trends, patterns and insights are hugely useful. They can and should be used by HR and L&D to make decisions. What training models are working? Where is performance strong? Where is it weak? Data enables functions to drill down into specifics.
5. Strategic input. Data-driven decision making makes HR and L&D more strategic.
6. Data skills are scarce in HR and L&D. That has to be remedied.
7. Using analytics properly helps HR and L&D measure the right stuff – not bums on seats, but behaviour change, business results, attrition rates….It’s about outputs, not inputs.
8. When done well, people analytics can show the rest of the organisation why HR and L&D matter. Use them to show how you are making a difference, where you are making a difference and where you could make even more of a difference.
9. Having the right, relevant data gives the profession more clout. Chief executives don’t want to hear ‘Everyone is doing digital learning, so must we’ or ‘x number of people rated this course’. They want solid, clear, demonstrable figures that convince them why an investment is necessary. Without those figures, you can’t expect a seat at the top table.
10. We’ve saved the best till last. Predictive analytics help HR, L&D and the business look forward – we know this about our company because of these figures, so how can we perform better? How can we make better recruitment decisions? Where are our high performers and where are our weak spots? Predictive analytics is where it’s all at.