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HR is too retro

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Looking in the rear view mirror isn’t the best way for HR to move forward. Speaking at the CIPD ‘HR Analytics’ conference, today, Robert Bolton, head of KPMG’s Global HR Transformation Centre of Excellence, called on the HR profession to help businesses drive growth by focusing on the problems of the future, rather than fretting on the mistakes of the past.

“Too many HR professionals are focused on images in the rear view mirror, intent on justifying their existence by reporting on past events. Learning from experience is, obviously, important, but with the range of quantitative and qualitative information available, HR teams will deliver better value to the Boardroom if they use historical trends to predict future needs. “Our own research shows that 1 in 3 c-suite executives intend to invest in HR analytics between now and 2015. Yet, if they are to get true value for money, HR teams need to become better at mining information and creating deeper business insights. Essentially, today’s analysts in HR are bogged down with basic workforce metrics; they lack understanding about how to make relevant links to business outcomes and need to become better at joining the HR dots.”

Addressing the audience of HR professionals, Robert outlined 5 groups of data HR teams should use to provide their business with relevant data: Cost: questions asked should revolve around what profit is generated per employee and what cost is accrued due to employee turnover; Capacity: analysis should revolve around the workforce stability, under or over utilisation of key staff and the layers of control that help or hinder business; Capability: data should be mined looking at the skills needed in the future to improve recruitment and retention; Compliance: HR teams should also be looking to ensure diversity policies are being adhered to and flexible working arrangements are brought in to help manage talent and business needs and Connections: questions should also be asked about internal networks so that employee engagement is top of the agenda.

Robert concludes: “We seem to be witnessing a vicious cycle – one which, if it is allowed to continue unbroken, will ensure that Boards will continue to hold HR in low regard. Part of the problem is that much of the available data is fragmented. But, in many cases, HR teams also lack the right skills for complex statistical analysis. If they don’t ask the right questions, how can they provide the right answers to help businesses move forward, develop, and grow?

“It’s a situation which cannot be allowed to continue. The time is now for HR functions to embrace the power of workforce analytics. With the right mind-set and skill set, HR can collect, integrate and interpret large amounts of data and provide predictive insights to business performance.


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