HR is up against it

Businesses don’t build themselves; people build them. That’s why HR teams have such a tall order. They need to hire in the right people and then build effective long-term strategies to engage them, motivate them and ultimately drive business success. Measuring all of these tasks for effectiveness has been a long-standing challenge for HR. Data is often spread across the business — in recruitment, HR, sales and finance. And beyond siloed teams, getting actionable insight from HR data is difficult in two parts.

Firstly, HR has not always had the analytical expertise needed. In teams like Marketing and Sales, data analytics has long formed the backbone of strategy. It’s used for creating new products, testing marketing channels, informing pricing strategies and of course sales targeting. In HR, the merits of data analytics are less known. The technology has been slow to adopt, and specialist roles for analysing and visualising data are rare.

And this leads to the second challenge: HR doesn’t have a reputation of measuring success, playing a numbers game, or bringing in the big bucks. Again, these go to finance, marketing, and sales. Whilst this is fast changing, some teams need support to turn insights into action; to communicate findings to the executive decision makers and get them to act on them.


Whilst data can solve complex business challenges, it’s worthless if it’s not analysed or communicated to decision-makers in the right way. That’s where a great data translator comes in. A data translator is the person that sits between the data analysts and the decision makers. They must ‘talk the talk’ of both parties, by understanding the business needs of the organisation and at the same time being data-savvy enough to talk tech and distil it to others in an easy-to-understand manner.

The data translator takes an important commercial role. Working closely with the HR team, they must challenge all HR data and ask:

  • How can we use this data to make money?
  • How can we use data to save money?
  • How can we use data to create a competitive advantage?
  • How can we use data to innovate?

Without this perspective, the project risks being a waste of time where the end result could offer no demonstrable value to the business performance or offer no actionable insight. The data translator brings the ‘so what?’.

After all, many data types prefer the independence of wrangling with data rather than explaining to non-tech people the implications of the data. They would rather crunch numbers than be pulled into exec meetings to defend the data insights or why the data should be trusted. Likewise, executives can be dismissive of data that can impact those who are responsible for it — they like to know they’re in control, but can feel quite uncomfortable when they’re presented with data they don’t fully understand.

Since data translators understand the core business objectives of an organisation, they can identify business actions based on the findings of the data that neither the data scientist or executive can. They can ensure that the data insights add value to the business.


The merits of HR Data Analytics

For the businesses that embrace HR analytics — and find the right translators — the rewards are boundless. Using intelligent data tools, HR teams can recruit, retain and develop talent better than ever before. Imagine if you could:

  • Recruit talent faster and more effectively by tracking recruitment timescales, costs, and drop-out rates
  • Boost retention by mapping staff turnover and showing areas with current and future skills shortages
  • Improve performance by flagging performance trends against reward and L&D programs
  • Identify future trends in areas like gender, diversity and wellbeing by highlighting changes over time

By having the right insight, and being armed with the right commercial objectives, HR data can inform every area of people strategy, including:

Recruitment decisions — by understanding past and future trends on time and cost to recruit roles

Performance plans — by identifying performance hot spots and problem areas against L&D activity

Retention activities — by targeting management training and team-building in the problem areas

Reward schemes — by understanding which schemes are attracting/retaining talent and boosting performance the best

Diversity & inclusion strategies — by exploring how diversity varies across location, department and job role.


Want to translate your HR data into commercial success?

At Data³, we build HR data tools and dashboards from scratch, helping turn your people data into actionable HR strategies. To find out more about the work that we’ve done and how we can help you, email us at hello@data-cubed.co.uk.