4 Easy Steps to Unlock the Power of Data for HR Professionals

At Enki, we believe that all professionals should have basic data skills. To drive that point chhome, we’ll be periodically highlighting people that have gone through our courses who work in roles that you might not typically associate with data analytics.

In this post, we’ll cover why Human Resources professionals should double-down on data, and we’ll do it with the help of Iris Corenevsky, Senior Manager of People & Culture at Jyve (and a recent EnkiCamp grad).

Why HR analytics matter

Also referred to as “people analytics,” HR Analytics refers to when a company collects internal data to understand, assess, and improve 1) employee performance, 2) employee satisfaction [with their jobs, managers, and company culture,] and 3) how efficiently the new employee hiring and onboarding processes are working.

HR analytics tools help your organization get objective answers to important questions like:

How long and complicated is our hiring process in the eyes of candidates?

– What are the hard and soft costs of new employee onboarding?

– Which teams are taking advantage of our L&D offerings?

– Are there trends related to employee attrition? Which teams - and which individuals - are most-likely to leave us in the next 6-12 months?

– Do our employees have the skills necessary to be successful (aka “Capability Analytics”)? Where are the skills gaps?

– Are we building a culture that is promoting employee happiness, stability, and loyalty, or is this a “toxic” workplace? How can we measure this?

If your company is already using external data effectively, you’re probably doing well as a business (at least in terms of customer acquisition, retention, and overall profitability).

We’re simply asking you to apply that same data-driven logic internally, and build an HR analytics strategy so that you ensure your company is hiring efficiently and paying close attention to the signals that indicate employee dissatisfaction.

4 quick and easy steps to get an HR analytics strategy in motion

First, we should mention that most companies aren’t paying attention to HR analytics.

Most companies align their analytics resources to external projects to help improve marketing, sales, and product results (and rightfully so). If your business isn’t doing well, HR analytics can’t really be a priority.

For the purpose of this blog, let’s assume your company is crushing it (shipping product and hiring like crazy), but that you’re not doing much of anything on the HR analytics front.

What are a few simple steps to get you going?

1. Hire HR people who want to be (or are) data-driven

When we asked Iris Corenevsky, Jyve’s Senior Manager of People & Culture, why she wanted to take our SQL + Data Fundamentals course, she told us:

“It seemed like a natural progression in my career. I felt like it was time to pick up a new skill, and to move beyond CRM data and Excel spreadsheets... I don’t technically need SQL for my role, but I believe that anything that gets me thinking more analytically is worthwhile, even if I can’t immediately pinpoint exactly how.”

Bringing people onboard that have this outlook - both with respect to analytical thinking and to picking-up new skills - will help you develop a strong internal culture dedicated to learning and development.

2. Involve HR in your company’s data strategy planning

Start by including someone from your HR team in analytics meetings, so they can familiarize themselves with the terminology, tools and applications that your company is using.

When we asked Iris how her new SQL/data skills have helped in her current role, she said:

“[...] learning SQL has elevated the level of discussions I’m having with the more technical people at Jyve… I’m more comfortable communicating using data than before, and I’m now able to ask more productive questions of my finance and engineering colleagues.”

3. Enroll your HR people in courses that fit in with their work/life schedule

A great place to start: Our recently-IPO’d friends at Coursera offer an online People Analytics course that’s completely free (low pressure and self-paced).

If you’re looking for something more robust, there are tons of online certificate programs; one of the best we’ve seen is Cornell’s HR Analytics course. Note though, that these types of programs take months to complete, and can get expensive.

As you think about which programs to enroll your HR folks in, be sure to consider how a given course will fit into your employees’ busy work schedule. Upskilling a full-time employee is really, really hard.

Also take into account what a given program offers in terms of the features that help guide busy professionals to completion. For example, prior to joining us at Enki, Iris Corenevsky tried a SQL course offered by Udemy, but only got about 40% through it “because it lacked engagement features,” that would hold her accountable to complete the course.

There’s a ton of offerings out there ranging in price, curriculum depth, and time involved, so make sure your HR people choose programs that align well with 1) your company’s data strategy and vision, and 2) their workload and schedule.

4. Evaluate HR Analytics products with the help of your HR team

If you want your HR people to be strategic and predictive in their work - to address problems before they start - they’ll need access to the appropriate tools.

And, as you might imagine, there are a lot of HR analytics products out there. Just search for “HR Analytics Software” and you’ll find a ton of solutions that all sound pretty similar.

Capterra provides a comprehensive overview of the best available HR analytics offerings, and does a nice job highlighting features and drawbacks.

In any event, if your company is on board with revving-up its people analytics effort, don’t make tooling decisions without consulting with the ultimate end-users. If you involve them in the decision making process, they’ll feel a sense of project ownership.

Start acting now

If building and maintaining a strong company culture is a top priority, it’s time for you to start thinking about how to use internal data to ensure your HR team is focused on the right metrics.

Start by hiring and developing HR employees who want to be more data-driven, and then invest in skills training and technology to turn insights into action.

We can get your HR people on the path to data literacy with our SQL Fundamentals and/or Data Analysis 101 EnkiCamps. Just send me an email (will@enki.com)!

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