People hate HR. Try doing a search to see what employees think of Human Resources and you’ll find some eyebrow-raising headlines: “Ten Reasons Everybody Hates HR,” “5 Surprising Reasons Employees Hate HR,” and “Why We Still Hate HR, 12 Years Later.” Why such negative reviews for such a core business function? The “H” in HR is “Human,” after all, and what is a company without its people? Why does HR get such a bad rap?
Many believe that HR managers “focus too much on ‘administrivia’
and lack vision and strategic insight.”
The Harvard Business Review points to a reason for the bad buzz. Many believe that HR managers “focus too much on ‘administrivia’ and lack vision and strategic insight.” A common impression is that HR does little more than avoid disaster. With changing employment law, the need to ensure compliance, and the common problem of high turnover, HR may lack bandwidth for strategy and innovation. Also, HR personnel often end up enforcing rules and addressing discord. “HR walked Robin out yesterday” doesn’t mean Robin was treated to a special lunch, and everybody knows this.
If rank and file employees think of HR in unfavorable terms, what about industry leaders? Do they appreciate the nitty gritty of HR’s contributions?
Going Deeper: HR As Reactors, Not Anticipators
Talent consulting firm Development Dimensions International (DDI) and its collaborators recently released the Global Leadership Forecast, a report that includes feedback from thousands of business leaders and HR professionals. They found a disconnect between how HR leaders see their role and how others do.
21% of HR respondents think of their teams as “Reactors” concerned only with basic talent management and compliance monitoring. But twice the percentage (41%) of other business leaders peg HR in this category. Notably, neither group was likely to identify HR as “Anticipators” who use data analytics to form a talent strategy integrated into the overall business plan. The most common choice was to identify HR as “Partners,” or those who work with managers to close talent gaps and meet staffing goals.
With basic front-line processes diverting attention, how can HR leaders ensure they have a voice that’s respected throughout an organization? Rather than remaining siloed and struggling to meet monthly needs while others move the business forward, HR can stay relevant by integrating its work into business strategy. Here’s what DDI’s researchers identified as a key difference-maker toward achieving this goal: the ability to use advanced people analytics.
Capitalize On A Data-driven World
The study’s authors were clear in their emphasis on data as a catalyst to ensure HR’s ongoing relevance. Simply, information about an organization’s people can and should be used to inform business decisions. Identifying and understanding how to make a workforce more efficient is one example, as is forecasting talent needs of the future.
HR finds itself at a crossroads, but many in the field feel ill-equipped
to handle the demands of an evolving marketplace.
The potential value of people analytics is vast. HR leaders can identify organizational vulnerabilities which can inform specific recruitment and management needs. They can also transform leadership development itself. Before, an organization might access a fixed pipeline of potential leaders and apply one-size-fits-all tools for development. With the insights provided by data, HR can identify potential across an organization, then cultivate targeted qualities in the earliest and most efficient manner, and do so with customized next steps.
Entry Points for a Data-Savvy Future
DDI’s report also unearthed a surprising finding: HR finds itself at a crossroads, but many in the field feel ill-equipped to handle the demands of an evolving marketplace. Analysts can talk all day about “people analytics,” but if a company lacks the means and know-how to gather data, they still require a bridge to get where they need to go.
“People data” sources can include employee surveys, attendance records, multi-rater reviews, salary and promotion history, employee work history, demographic data, personality data, recruitment process or employee databases. But just knowing where the data lives isn’t enough. That’s where emerging solutions that provide the ability to capture and derive insights from the data quickly, with minimal investment of time and resources, will further shift the landscape:
- Mobile, user-friendly assessments that can be administered to everyone from entry-level job candidates to longtime managers will continue to level the playing field.
- AI-powered chatbots to facilitate collecting bite-sized bits of information and to interface with workers in a way they’re already comfortable with.
- Employee-focused survey tools to collect sentiments and other feedback on a persistent basis
- HRIS that not only capture data like turnover and regretted loss and churn likelihood, but make the data highly accessible
Quick data capture and insight inception provide a vital boost to an organization’s analytics game without requiring extensive capital or specialized knowledge. The best data collection methods meet people where they’re at and gather data in ways that engage and interest the user. With integrated technology, meeting the challenges of the 2020s data-driven business world is now accessible. Taking this step is fast becoming essential.