HR’s Future is Big Data

One of the things I’m most passionate about as a long-time HR professional is the progression of our practice. We suffer from quite a bit of bad press and misperception as an overall group, that we’re the people in the company who couldn’t cut it in other lines of business and that we’re dragging our companies behind.

Within this push to exceed expectations to outrun this negative perception is a call to action to evolve our way of thinking. I’ve said that our means to the future isn’t reconstructing our delivery model, something we’ve done multiple times. It’s our mindset and HOW we think about what we do. We must start thinking like business owners, and as owners of that business we must embrace the future: data analysis.

HR is rife with data. We’re quite filled with it. But as I wrote in my book, Unleashing Capacity: The Hidden Human Resources (Pinot, 2016), the issue is that we’re limited to looking at just the information we produce and incapable of synthesizing large amounts of complimentary information from other internal and external sources in a sophisticated manner so we can start to predict problems before they happen and create corporate agility in the marketplace.

We must become more comfortable gathering more data points (our company’s 10k, market data and surveys, customer satisfaction information, social media marketing data, white papers, industry analyses, etc.) and crunching down to get past reporting how things are to deliver how things are going to be to our clients. It might sound crazy, but big data is big business, and right now we need a big win.

If you’re not on this emergence of big data and data analysis, you’ve only to look to the Society of Human Resources Management to see its impact. Almost 400 professionals from the group were recently interviewed for a report, Jobs of the Future: Data Analysis Skills. A recent article on the SHRM site states the results:

“Today, according to the report, 53 percent of HR departments use big data to help make strategic decisions; 71 percent use it for the sourcing, recruitment or selection of candidates; 63 percent use it to identify the causes of turnover and for employee retention strategies or trends; and 61 percent use it to manage talent and performance.”

We knew that, right? Here’s the real problem, as outlined by the same article.

“The study points out that 51 percent of organizations say they don’t use big data because of a lack of knowledge or expertise and 30 percent said there wasn’t enough data collected or available.”

That, friends, is a huge issue. Because not only are we swiftly shifting into this direction, but you must recruit for this skill set for your own team. Technological disruption isn’t just shaping our companies; it’s shaping HR itself.

As someone who has created a decision-making framework that not only synthesizes this kind of big data in the manner I’ve described but helps HR managers make sense of what’s found, I can tell you that the progression to a more data-centered, business-minded HR practice isn’t as ominous as you think.

It does take flexibility, time, and dedication to making the change. It’s the future, and it’s coming sooner than you think. Are you prepared to embrace the future of HR? Either way, the arrival is imminent. Be prepared.

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