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Successful data analytics endeavors don’t have to involve complex data mining, but they do have to start with a team that bridges the HR and tech divide, practitioners say.
Employers need data analytics teams with skill sets that range “from purely tech and analytics training to HR knowledge and business strategy knowledge,” Nestor Ares, HR analytics and processes unit chief at the Inter-American Development Bank, said June 19.
Data analytics presents employers the opportunity to measure and quantify business processes that mostly have only been qualitative before, such as employee engagement, retention, or productivity, Alym Rayani, director of Office security and compliance for Microsoft Corp., told Bloomberg BNA June 20.
By analyzing data on employee behaviors, such as when workers are sending email, how much time they spend with managers, who they collaborate with, or when they’re accessing work after hours, HR has the opportunity to identify workflows and employee characteristics that are working for these jobs, Rayani said.
And it doesn’t have to require HR to aggregate financial and operational data that can be difficult to gain access to, he said. This kind of data can be generated just from the “digital exhaust” of everyday interactions online, according to Rayani.
But first, the company has to build the right analytics team, Ares told attendees of the Society for Human Resource Management annual conference in New Orleans. There may be challenges incorporating analytics into HR’s more traditional workflow, so there needs to be partnership between HR business strategists and data and tech professionals, he said.
A successful data analytics team often includes a data wrangler, a developer, a business analyst, a statistician, a “visualizer,” and a communicator, Ares said. There doesn’t have to be one employee per role, but all roles are essential to a successful team. “They are very different functions,” he added.
According to Ares, the goal is to have enough expertise to accomplish:
Today’s competitive labor market may make it very difficult to hire all tech positions from outside the company, Ares said, so it’s important to look within the organization to find the employees who have these skills.
For example, there may be people inside the HR department who already have some knowledge of statistics or are used to managing numbers. “With a little training, these are the kind of people who can start making HR data talk,” he said.
There may also be workers in other parts of the company who can move into HR, such as from IT or finance, Ares said. Intern programs are another potential resource for data analytics skills and knowledge, he added.
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