HR professionals failing to gather basic organisational data, new survey warns

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HR professionals must get a handle on people-related metrics if they hope to influence the C-suite, experts have warned, as new research reveals many are failing to track key organisational data.

A study of HR professionals and chief executives published yesterday by NGA Human Resources – HR Data: Great power, great responsibility – found that 94 per cent of CEOs consult with HR before making big business decisions, but HR professionals often failed to gather the appropriate data to influence these conversations.

More than half (52 per cent) of surveyed HR professionals admitted they did not collect data on retention, while a similar proportion (50 per cent) did not track career progression at their organisation and two in five (43 per cent) were not crunching numbers for diversity and inclusion.

Ed Houghton, senior research adviser at the CIPD, said the report’s findings could reflect the difficulty some organisations faced in benchmarking their data.

“Many HR professionals seek to use data to compare their process and outcomes amongst competitors, but there are no clear standards of data for many of these measures,” he said. “Areas like retention can be so context-specific to your organisation that you have to create your own measures; and many HR teams are not yet at the level of capability to do this, or are not investing the time required to design them.”

The report also found around a third of HR professionals were failing to report on absence and attendance (30 per cent), pay changes (39 per cent), and recruitment (39 per cent) in their organisation.

Richard Shinton, business intelligence and analytics product manager at NGA HR and author of the report, told People Management issues with data gathering often came down to time constraints.

“Statistics we gathered relating to the amount of time people spent extracting this information revealed 34 per cent of HR professionals were spending more than one day a month – which is significant but manageable – on data extraction, but more than 10 per cent were spending as much as a week every month obtaining HR reporting data,” he said.

“That’s a large proportion of someone’s working month spent on quite repetitive tasks – and it can be even more complicated and difficult to analyse topics such as absence statistics. Organisations that don’t have a solution in place to provide the confidence for accurate results are likely to struggle with obtaining these key figures.”

Excerpts from a separate poll, conducted by YouGov on behalf of MHR Analytics and published today, revealed 35 per cent of HR decision makers believe they lack the right knowledge and skills within their respective teams to deliver on an analytics function.

Houghton said a key challenge for smaller and medium organisations was to understand the business incentive for gathering strategic data.

“As a profession, we need to encourage organisations to appreciate the strategic value of data, by sharing examples of why this is such an important agenda, and the ways it can unlock a lot of value,” he said.

“Data enables people to take a different view of their organisation, and is a very powerful influencer in enabling change. Whether they know it or not, a lot of CEOs are asking questions about HR issues – if they are going to trust HR to deliver, the profession must be able to use the available evidence in a way that makes them tick.”

The CIPD HR Analytics conference, which runs from 5-6 June 2018, contains sessions covering the ethics of data tracking and measuring people risk, among other topics.

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