Sitting on a data goldmine
Is people data helping your hiring strategy?
The average Human Resources team is sitting on a mine of data - primarily due to the amount of things that HR is measuring these days. The insights gathered from this measuring is collected, and then wielded, in a process widely referred to as analytics. Something which The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) define as the use of people data in the analytical process to solve business problems. The association explained that its core function is to give HR practitioners and employers valuable insights into their workforce and existing HR policies, with a strong focus on the human capital element of the workforce. But, to what extent is people data helping employers with their hiring strategy?
Firstly, it cannot be underestimated how important many HR practitioners find people data. It seems that many employers are acknowledging the benefits and transformation opportunities afforded by using analytics. The 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey found that 69% of organisations have already built integrated systems to analyse people data, while 17% already have real-time dashboards. Syreeta Brown, Managing Director and Head of Global Recruitment Strategy and Programs at Citi bank believes that HR should come to rely on it. She said: “I absolutely think people data should be a top priority for HR. The world is moving at such a pace that the need to understand how effective you are being in whichever part of your people strategy that you’re working on.” This, of course, includes recruitment.
For this reason, Brown cites people data as crucial, explaining that the analytics space can inform and measure how well HR strategies are working and provide the department with food for thought. She explained that people data has become ingrained into Citi’s HR function. “It might be the perils of being a financial services organisation but, yes, data has driven a huge amount of transformation for us because the first question that gets asked in banking is ‘What does the data say?’”. As a result, Citi heavily rely on people data to underpin their future decisions – including hires - and Brown urges other HR practitioners to prioritise people analytics before it’s too late. “You’ll probably be left behind if you’re not using analytics. I think the importance of analytics is to not just see it as a tool but to help you manage the operating infrastructure of your function.”
Brown’s belief is echoed by Kirstin Furber, former Chief People Officer at ClearScore and a seasoned HR practitioner, who said that people analytics are particularly critical within an organisation’s recruitment process. She explained that there are many different ways that HR can use data in recruitment. “HR can use it strategically if they are thinking about where they might want to locate an office, or where they might want to grow a product. HR can firstly go out and look at the analytics of where that talent is based, where it is located around the world and where those skills are available - but also the analytics around the cost of hiring and employment legislation.”
She also explained that data in the recruitment process can be used to reveal what type of company you work at. “If you take analytics based on the type of background of people you are getting through the recruitment process, and who is searching your company before you have even interviewed them,” she explained, “that can give you data around your diversity and attraction strategy.” Not only that, Furber explained that data could also indicate where candidates are being lost during the hiring process. “So, it’s then a case of thinking ‘I need to drill into what’s going on at that specific first interview and second interview stage because it’s not converting into a job offer,’” she concluded.
Yves Givel, Head of HR (Europe, Africa, Middle East and Southwest Asia) at Hyatt Hotels, has noted people data as being the perfect assistant in areas such as “recruitment and retention” as well as many more functions. He added that analytics in the recruitment space can help identify the best applicants for specific roles. “Analytics can also assist in a better understanding of the organisation’s capabilities and flag any potential skills shortages before they become a resourcing problem,” he added.
Yet, Givel also recognises additional uses for people data. He cites people data as an effective way to map employee retention. “Analytics can forecast workforce attrition so that solutions can be quickly implemented, reducing impact to productivity. It can also provide us with interesting data on our talent flow.” However, as with the implementation of any new initiative, Givel explained that it is only useful if the data is used in a way that aligns with the company’s business needs. “We are providing our leaders with data to help them make smarter, more strategic and more informed decisions about their employees and the overall workforce. This, combined with technology and training, is assisting us in building data-driven decisions among our leaders in HR and operations.”
Citi’s Brown also acknowledges the drawbacks to relying so heavily on people analytics as, in some cases, it only tells half the story. She explained: “For us, the journey has been understanding what our data looks like and how we can get and manage that data. The next stage of the journey revolves around how we can mine that data… then it’s a case of understanding what the data may or may not be telling you and getting that interpretative lens into the process.”
So, the key takeaway for HR here is, if they want to hire better, then start to wield people data within the hiring process. Not only will this enable employers to make better hiring decisions and improve the calibre of talent, it will also provide the business with more less risky ways to implement change. Yet, while it may help the hiring process, it should be used in conjunction with real human intelligence.