One would think, wrongly, that Data is reserved for the marketing department, with the need of getting to know customers better. But there is another area of business where data is redefining the boundaries: human resources.
Used wisely, Big Data can return the strategic and human dimension, to HR, without there being any contradictions. Because, instead of the customers, it is the employees that the data allows you to know better – and to manage more efficiently. Provided of course that you make mastering the data a competency in its own right.

An approach based on a relevant use of data: HR analytics

Access to oodles of data in HR is nothing new. For a long time the HR department has held information about employees, harvested throughout their evolution in the company. Innovation comes from the way this data is used: not to write descriptive reports, but to anticipate behavior, understand phenomena and optimize decision-making. This approach is known as “HR analytics”. It applies to two main process families: functional and managerial.

Data and functional processes

Functional processes include recruitment and career management matters.

  • In recruitment, a relevant mastery of the data allows targeting of the candidates to be refined by improving the job descriptions and the selection criteria. It helps determine where the need is and what external skills can meet it. This, however, requires a good knowledge of internal needs and the assessment of employee performance in similar positions, based on their competencies and soft skills.
  • In terms of career management, the data helps instill more flexibility in the evolution of employees internally. The HR function must recognize societal changes, in particular the desire of employees to pursue transversal careers by changing positions and expanding skills. Assisted by the data, the HR department can facilitate this evolution by offering adapted training and by measuring the results of the campaigns on the department’s activity (and that of the company).

Data and management processes

Management processes focus on the management of performance and of talent, as well as anything that enables proactive HR crisis management.

  • On the one hand, it is a question of identifying the talents within the company and determining their evolution and retention (functional processes). For this, statistical data on individual performance is essential.
  • On the other hand, data paves the way for the implementation of predictive management of employment and skills, a process based on the anticipation and proactive management of human capital. Very precise knowledge of the resources and the social climate makes it possible to defuse crises before they occur, to fight against absenteeism and turnover, and to improve the well-being of employees through a preventive approach. As such, it becomes possible to anticipate the leaving of an employee even before they become aware of this desire, by analyzing their behavior in relation to that of previous employees who left the company.
    For these processes to benefit from the support of data, the quality and accessibility of data are crucial prerequisites. As is the ability of HR departments to analyze and exploit it.

Data has never been more relevant to the HR function, without this Data Driven approach contradicting the desire to inject a “more human approach” into the process. The key is the mastery of this data. This presupposes a cultural revolution: the HR department must now make decisions based on concrete, relevant and proven data, rather than on the basis of intuition and experience. While already a “human face”, the HR department must now also become a “master of the data”.