A brave new world in which data can replace basic HR key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide powerful insights about the role of people in your business isn’t something which is ‘coming soon’, it’s already here.
Those in the HR function currently have, in my view, an unprecedented opportunity to drive significant business value and be seen to do so by the wider organisation. This is made possible by readily available technology which can access and analyse data from many sources and really support decision making that can drive business goals.
So why aren’t we there yet – why is this way of working not yet business as usual? Both practical and cultural obstacles are slowing the adoption of evidence-based HR, but it nonetheless looks increasingly clear that it will eventually hold sway.
One factor likely to force progress is the gap between HR and the rest of the business in the use of evidence. The momentum generated by sophisticated data being used by other parts of the business to improve performance will inevitably encourage change.
Of course, looking outside of a business, nothing whets the appetite for change quite like the sight of competitors reaping the rewards of an evidence-based people strategy – even if it’s just a case of using it to make or save money.
I think we’re close to seeing data and analytics having a significant and positive impact on helping organisations with their most important people-related challenges.
A solid foundation of well-organised data has now been established in many major companies. Small but committed teams of analysts, recently brought into HR functions, are helping their colleagues to see the benefits of evidence-based HR, and to handle it in the most effective way. Measurable successes from the use of evidence, some particularly eye-catching, will help to spur the much-needed enthusiasm of senior executives and encourage investment in developing and recruiting the skills that will cement progress.
We’ve never before had such a rich variety of data available to help HR practitioners to make the right decisions; decisions which are now being made using robust evidence rather than intuition and established best practice.
I’ll end, appropriately, with an insight, which is from the recently published Evidence-Based HR: The Bridge Between your People and Delivering Business Strategy, by KPMG International. According to that survey, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of KPMG, an overwhelming majority of respondents (82 percent) expect their organisation to either begin or increase the use of Big Data and advanced analytics over the next three years.
If you’d like to learn more, this report is recommended reading.
This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.