‘Bad' Data Not a Barrier to HR Analytics

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

March 16 — To jump start HR analytics programs that are “stuck in neutral,” HR departments should strive to “connect workforce insights to business results,” Dave Weisbeck, chief strategy officer at Vancouver, Canada-based HR analytics software company Visier, said.

“Business results are exceedingly important from an HR point of view. Making that connection is more important than ever,” Weisbeck said in a March 16 webinar sponsored by WorldAtWork. This involves answering three questions, he said: what has happened (an analysis of the situation); how it affects the business and whether that matters (“so what?”); and what is to be done next and how to then determine whether it has succeeded (“now what?”).

The “so what” part of the equation tries to answer “what workforce metrics (such as engagement, resignation, performance, time to hire, etc.) are most correlated with an increase in revenue (or customer satisfaction, patient readmission, sales achievement…) per full-time employee,” Weisbeck stated in a slide he presented.

To take one example, store revenue could be compared to employee turnover, yielding such insights as “we need to reduce turnover in Nevada so that we can reduce risk to store revenue,” Weisbeck said.

Such an exercise, he said, involves putting one set of figures next to another. It's not necessary to show a mathematically “perfect relationship,” which is impossible anyway when it comes to people, he said.

On a related note, HR professionals often think they can't do analytics because they have “bad” data that would have to be perfected before they could do anything with it, Weisbeck said.

But that's a misconception, he said. Data only improves when you “shine a flashlight on it,” he said, and “the best flashlight is actually doing an analysis of the data.”

“In simplest terms, the return on investment for perfect data is not worth it,” Weisbeck added.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at mbermangorvine@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Harris at tharris@bna.com

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