Ross Watkins: I want HR to KISS

HR Analytics Special Edition articlesI want HR to KISS!

Before anyone panics and starts to raise a disciplinary case, I am not encouraging HR colleagues to get over friendly and amorous. Perish the thought. I simply want HR, when it comes to systems, data and metrics, to KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!

Having worked in this field for a few more years than I care to remember (or even can remember) I am concerned at the unnecessary complexity that that seems to be occurring. When the majority of companies are still at the relatively early stages of their analytic journeys why would you over complicate and confuse the issues? Engage the business with the simplicity and clarity of thought and action.

If I am permitted to offer some advice to HR it would go something like this:

  1. You are not special!
    I have lost count of the number of times that HRM’s have told me that the part of the business they look after is special/unique/different and therefore require a solution completely different to someone else within the same business. In most cases this is utter rubbish. No HR practitioner has yet been able to convince me that what they do is radically different to anyone else in a HR role. HR are there to support the business in ensuring that a group of employees are able to work in the most effective way be it through talent development, performance management, absence management etc. This doesn’t fundamentally differ from department to department, company to company. The benefit of being able to compare and contrast across common metrics far outweighs the need to be ‘special’.
  2. Be realistic
    When it comes to your metrics be mindful of where you are on your analytic journey. Start simple and build the complexity as you gain engagement and interest but don’t try and run before you can walk. If you are starting out then stick with some basic Turnover, Absence or talent metrics for example. Don’t think that as you suddenly have a shiny new HR system with an abundance of data then you have to start in the sexy world of predictive analytics and predict who will have a sneaky day off a week next Tuesday.
  3. Don’t put square pegs in round holes
    If you want to do justice to HR metrics and analytics within your organisation then employ people with the skillsets that you require. We do exist and some of us are even quite normal! Don’t expect your HRM’s or HRBP’s to fill this void. In my experience it is not a natural part of an HR Managers make up to be able to use Excel let alone anything more complicated. A spreadsheet full of data is likely to disengage an HRM faster than you can explain how to concatenate 2 cells. Don’t waste the HR communities time when they could be spending time understanding and working with the business.
  4. Stop Customising!
    Make use of the tools that are out there on the market but please, please, please stop customising them to such a great degree. It comes back to my first point – You are not special. A little configuration is fine but wholesale customisation is mad. If its so far away from what you want why did you buy it in the first place? Be prepared to rethink your current processes and when buying a new tool don’t just create everything you had before. Have an open mind, try to simplify and use the expertise of the HRIS vendors in having implemented these processes with many other customers. I have seen companies spend the equivalent of a small countries GDP to customise a process only to change it back again a year later when the personnel changed.
  5. Benchmark
    Sounds obvious but so few companies seem to do it. Is it not worth seeing what others in your industry are doing? Those firms that are likely to have the same challenges as you or who maybe slightly further down the path on their analytic journey – Why not learn from them?
  6. Lead from the top
    If you as an HR Leader truly believe in the value of HR data and analytics then shout it from the rooftops. If you don’t then save your cash. You may have noticed that buying an HRIS or starting up an HR Analytics team isn’t cheap so why would you do this unless you are absolutely committed to make it work for you. Too often it seems that the idea of HR analytics is paid lip service and various parts of the business are allowed to opt in or out as the wind changes thus diluting the impact of what you are doing. Be strong as a leader, give visible support to your analytics team and demonstrate the value that metrics can have in understanding the business

 

So in summary

  • Don’t think you are different to anyone else
  • Don’t run before you can walk
  • Get the right people
  • Learn from others
  • Ensure visible leadership from the top

 

Simple isn’t it!

Ross will be presenting on her analytics journey at EDF Energy at the Mission Critical HR Analytics Conference in London on 5 September 2018, alongside other analytics leaders from NHS England, McKinsey & Company, Citi Group and more. Please see the conference website for a full programme and how to book tickets.

 

Join The Forum for HR Analytics here

About Ross Watkins

Ross Watkins is an experienced HR Data and Analytics manager with a 20+ year history of working in multiple industries.

In addition to data and analytics, he has experience working in and supporting talent management, recruitment, performance management, training and personnel management/administration.

Ross is currently the People Analytics and Reporting Manager at EDF Energy where the organisation has embarked on a transition from provision of numerous lists in excel through to reporting and analytics.

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