You would never expect a business to succeed if it didn’t manage budgets, conduct forecast plans and measure returns on investments. Why then is the same not expected from HR? After all workforce costs are reported to be 70% of operating expenses!

Taking into account the degree of change businesses are currently facing, this could also be a real opportunity for HR to position itself to lead business change and demonstrate the value it adds to the business by joining the top table to advise on business strategy and management decisions. However joining this table with only a ‘gut feel’ or ‘rough/inaccurate data’, which is unfortunately often the case, is just not going to hit the mark. The top table needs HR professionals who have numeracy skills and many more enlightened HR Directors are adding ‘big data’ to their agenda.

Picture this….HR arrive at the table with a full complement of workforce analytics which provide a visual representation of accurate information illustrating the workforce impact of a variety of business scenarios to aid evidence based decision making. For example, using a dashboard to understand the age or skill profile of a workforce in the future and how making changes will impact the future state. Not only would this demonstrate that HR have skills and tools giving them the credibility to advise and lead the business, it would also build the path to enable HR to demonstrate insight and intelligence in relation to its largest cost, people. For example, advising on workforce related activities which will enable the agreed future state and minimise risks.

A personal experience of mine was that when working within a newly formed, highly effective and respected workforce analytics team, the business did not recognise or accept us as being ‘part of HR’. They simply could not comprehend that correlation in relation to their previous view of HR. As professionals we need to challenge this perspective and show that HR have capability to drive business strategy and not just manage issues.

Primarily HR needs to consider its future. How much longer will it be acceptable to say ‘I don’t know what is the most appropriate measure to understand the impact of that’ or even worse simply…. ‘I don’t do numbers’! It is time for HR to understand not only what counts and how to count it but to truly add value what insights can be added! This will show the value which HR can add compared to other business functions who are not responsible for the businesses biggest cost, its workforce.

In very simple terms a recommended approach is to:

  1. Identify the business problem
  2. Understand the analytics which will help to demonstrate options to resolve this problem
  3. Develop models/tools which can be brought to the top table to facilitate evidence based decision making
  4. Utilise professional capabilities to implement effective solutions which achieve the objectives of the decisions made

The benefits are of course not only for HR, it has also been suggested that organisations who are effective at utilising workforce analytics also have a more engaged workforce…..and we all know the benefits that will bring to business performance.