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10 years ago
Did You Check the Box on HR Analytics?


For more case studies in HR analytics, see Predictive Analytics World for Workforce, March 31-April 1, 2015 in San Francisco.

A good deal of HR analytics is about studying trends and investigating the driving forces behind those trends. I’ve noticed a new trend in the HR analytics world and it has nothing to do with the actual numbers.

I was providing advice to someone who was in charge of implementing HR analytics within her company. I recommended carefully selecting metrics which align to the future direction of the business and specific company challenges. This would provide the greatest value to her internal customers. After a few exchanges of information, this person said “I’m just going to pick a bunch metrics, make a dashboard and see what happens from there.” This is what I call “checking the box on HR analytics.” It provides little value to your internal customers since there is no thought behind the selection of metrics. You risk distributing a dashboard that no one will use and you risk your reputation as a knowledgeable analytics professional.

In speaking with a young professional in another company, he shared that he was told to “…just provide any metrics you think are important” without explanation for the need. Being greatly concerned with this approach, he embarked on a personally driven mission to interview his internal customers to identify concerns with the workforce. He will then select his metrics to align to those concerns. We must commend this individual for not “checking the HR analytics box” and we should be disappointed with the leadership who instructed him.

There are others that throw large sums of money at the topic to implement HR analytics software. These packages are great at consolidating data in companies where data has not been collected or is spread so far apart in the company that it is not feasible to put it together manually for strategic studies. These packages may identify trends, but they will not provide insights into what is truly happening in the business. You still need someone with the expertise to “see” what the data may be telling you on a deeper level.

If your HR Analytics function doesn’t provide value to the business, why does it exist? Check the box or spend a little more time thinking about which metrics and studies would provide value to the organization. As analytics professionals and leaders, the choice is up to you. One choice will move you forward; the other will hold you back.

Tracey is the author of “HR Analytics: The What, Why and How” and “Strategic Workforce Planning: Guidance & Back-up Plans.” She is the editor of NI Magazine, a global e-magazine dedicated to HR analytics and strategic workforce planning. She holds degrees in Mathematics, Engineering and Business from universities in Canada and the U.S. and has over 20 years of experience in the areas of Human Resources, Supply Chain and Engineering. She was born in the U.K. and has worked in both Canada and the U.S.

Tracey is an independent consultant and her company, Numerical Insights LLC, helps clients in the areas of HR Analytics, Workforce Planning, and HR Process Improvement.

By: Tracey Smith, President,
Numerical Insights LLC.
Originally published at

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