HR analytics has been firmly established as a necessity for HR departments both large and small. Every day there are new vendors, consultants, and software companies that will provide all types of analytics to help you engage employees, strategically plan your workforce, improve your recruitment efforts, and optimize nearly all of your HR processes.
However, with this increased demand, finding skilled HR data analysts has become difficult. There is a shortage of data scientists and data analysts overall and even a more severe shortage of data professionals who are conversant with HR. There is some argument whether it is easier to hire data professionals and then teach them about HR rather than teaching HR professionals about data analysis. This article will not provide a definitive answer to the argument. Rather, the purpose is to give you tips on how to inexpensively train HR professionals in data analysis. Whether you choose to hire data professionals and train them in HR or not, having your HR staff conversant with at least the basics of data analysis can only help both HR and data professionals work more effectively together.
So, how do you start training your HR staff in data analysis? I suggest a three-step process using freely available software and training resources culminating in a practical capstone project. I have set this up for small organizations and government offices so; you can rest assured that this is a well-tested model which is easy to implement and track.
First: download and install RStudio (the Open Source version [https://www.rstudio.com/products/rstudio/]). R is an open-source statistical package that is widely used in the data analysis community. There are plenty of free online training sites and free books that will take your users from a neophyte to an accomplished data analyst. RStudio’s website lists many free online courses [https://www.rstudio.com/online-learning/]. Another great site is the videos on the LearnR YouTube channel [https://www.youtube.com/user/TheLearnR].
Second: use these online resources to help your staff train themselves in statistics and data analysis. A great place to start if your HR staff needs a refresher course in statistics is the interactive multimedia “Online Statistics Education” online book [http://onlinestatbook.com/]. Once your staff is ready, they can then work through the numerous free data science courses available on “Big Data University” [https://bigdatauniversity.com/]. What I especially like about Big Data University is that it has a badging system which is a great incentive for your staff and a good way for you to track their progress.
The final step in the process is the most useful for the organization and your employees – create a capstone data analysis project that will be applied to a real organizational need. In fact, I suggest you may want to create the capstone project while the staff is going through steps one and two. If the HR staff knows that they will have to demonstrate their newly-acquired skills soon, this will help focus and energize their training efforts. With just an investment of time, you can quickly create data-savvy HR staff.
Over the years, the relationship between HR and Finance departments has suffered from misconceptions of the role and impact each plays in an organization; limited understanding of administrative pressures (Sarbanes-Oxley or Safe Harbor), and general mistrust of one another. Look at what Shari Caudron had to say in a 1996 (that’s 20 years ago!) article written for the Business Finance magazine:
“In far too many organizations, warring adversaries is exactly what the [Finance and HR] departments have become. Separated by sky-high functional silos, finance people typically think HR folks take up space that should be reserved for more valuable professionals….Human resources specialists, on the other hand, think the finance department is filled with a bunch of pencil-necked bean counters whose sole enjoyment in life comes from saying “no” to every requested project.”
Think about your organization. When a manager asks the question below, do you get two completely different perspectives?
Is this how the HR and Finance relationship will continue in perpetuity? What can be done to bring the two functions closer together? To learn more about what steps to take next, consider registering for Wednesday’s IHRIM webinar, “A Marriage Made in Heaven: Enabling the Partnership between HR and Finance” presented by Catherine Honey, Executive Director of People Advisory Services at Ernst & Young.
In theory, the HR and Finance functions should share a common goal, that of driving business outcomes (financial improvement, competitive advantage, risk minimization, etc.) by optimizing how investments are made in sourcing, developing, and retaining talent. The CFO may wear many hats in pursuing that goal, from devising budgets to advising on strategy and measuring the results of those investments. From my experience, HR leaders rarely lead headcount budgeting and planning but are responsible for setting, executing, and evaluating the talent strategy.
Wednesday’s webinar will illustrate whether we are making progress towards strong collaboration. Citing the results of a global survey of 550 CFOs and CHROs in 26 countries, and supplemented by in-depth interviews with leaders in both functions, highlights of the research that Catherine will cover include:
- Why CFOs and CHROs have better relationships at high-performing companies than those at organizations falling behind
- The organizational characteristics (size, global reach) and talent issues that influence the likelihood of stronger partnerships
- Business metrics most commonly influenced by closer ties
Diving into these topics in more depth, Catherine will also share the four attributes that set high-performing companies – those with strong HR/Finance relationships – apart.
While I am not in a position to give away the answers here, I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of the attributes relates to the wider adoption, and greater use, of workforce analytics as a tool to rigorously assess talent performance and productivity. Better collaboration can also feed the strategic workforce planning process, with CFOs actively engaging in discussions of talent supply and demand.
The webinar concludes with ten steps that both CFOs and CHROs can take to improve their relationship.