Mastering the data: a key skill for HR departments?

Common perception suggests that Data Science is the domain of Marketing, given their intent on knowing the customer better. But that’s shortsighted. There are many other areas of organizations where Data Science is redefining business boundaries: Human Resources is one good example.
Used wisely, Big Data can enhance strategic and people considerations simultaneously. Using the Marketing example, you can take understanding your employees, recruits, and mission to a much deeper level. In order to do that, you need to make mastering the data a competency in its own right, making it a strategic imperative.

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 career in the company. HR departments are innovating by anticipating behavior, understanding team phenomena, and optimizing career 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, 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 career 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 matter of identifying the talent within the company and understanding their evolution and motivation for 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. Then it becomes possible to anticipate the resignation of an employee even before they themselves 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 Data Science, 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. The key is mastering ALL the data. Data Science and AI can help elevate the HR department and help make better decisions based on concrete, relevant facts, enhanced by human experience.