In Part 1 of this series, Getting Started with Talent Analytics: An HR Director’s Tale, our intrepid HR Director (HRD) had received a volley of abuse from his CEO, and told in no uncertain terms that he needed to come up with an HR Analytics strategy “quick smart.” Being a resilient chap, the HRD swiftly dusted himself off and formulated a plan to educate himself on a subject he knew little about. Being honest, he previously assumed HR Analytics were the responsibility of the Finance, Sales and Marketing departments.

So, will the HRD flounder or flourish with this unexpected opportunity to get HR on the top-table? Will he get funky on the HR Analytics dance floor, or will his attempt to get Big Data on the HR agenda prove as embarrassing as the “Dad Dancing” done by Boris Johnson and Dave Cameron at the 2012 Olympics?

Well, it’s been a couple of months and our HRD has been busy…

Resolving not to go the way of sacked Manchester United Manager, David Moyes. 
Although he resented his CEO for the arduous task that had been imposed upon him, it dawned on the HRD that Dear Leader was correct (for the first time actually when it came to HR) in that the HRD needed to get his act together and fast. His colleagues had taken to calling him “Moyes” (fired less than 10 months into the job!) and he knew if he didn’t get it right the knives would be out just as they had been for Alex Ferguson’s hapless successor at Manchester United.

That chap Bersin… 
As revealed in Part 1, the HRD had immersed himself in books, whitepapers/article, blogs and online discussion groups pertinent to HR Analytics, as well as partaking in one of his favorite activities—hobnobbing with peers at conferences. At one of these events, he met a chap named Josh Bersin, Founder and Principal of Bersin by Deloitte, who introduced the HRD to his four-stage HR Analytics maturity model—outlining how organizations evolve from scalable reporting systems to advanced analytics. Although this was helpful, the HRD conceded that they might have to invent a Stage Zero for his company.

Slaying the mythical beasts of HR Analytics. 
The HRD’s plan had started to form when he attended the 2014 HR & Workforce Analytics Innovation Summit in London. At first, he thought he must be in the wrong place; a significant portion of the delegates had not spent their whole careers in HR (the horror). In fact, he was stunned to learn that Shell’s HR Analytics team included a statistician as well as a clever chap with two Economics degrees. The HRD felt a bit like a dinosaur, but he quickly realized that he didn’t need to do it all himself; that he would actually progress more quickly if he could bring in a technical expert or two (in other words, a boffin).

He heard that genuine HR Analytics expertise was hard to come by, yet here he was, in a room full of legions of these mythical creatures. He collected a plethora of business cards—no expense would be spared to get the right expertise into his organization. The HRD also resolved to sniff around the Finance department for any nascent talent. He finally understood that he needed someone who could make sense of and build a compelling case from the myriad of data that existed in the nether regions of his HR systems.

Taking two-pronged attack. 
At the summit, he liked what he heard from Coca-Cola Enterprises. Their journey was a prime example of building your HR Analytics house from the bottom up—à la what that chap Bersin had been banging on about in his four-stage model. But, given the notorious impatience of his CEO, the HRD also liked what ABN Amro told him over lunch, in that they were tackling their analytics mountain in parallel by getting operational reporting right; simultaneous to experimenting with predictive analytics. The HRD knew it was the latter that would be what the CEO would be interested in, particularly if it there was money to be saved.

Start with the business problem. 
The HRD was relieved to hear that not a single person he spoke with regarding HR Analytics had suggested starting with the data. Instead, the advice he continually received was that you need to begin with the business problem. This was not only easier, but he believed it was a place we could truly contribute. For example, the HRD’s recruitment function was in a bit of a mess; agency hiring historically been too prevalent and, as such, hiring costs were too high, time-to-productivity of new hires was poor, and attrition levels continued to be a bone of contention.

The HRD reasoned that getting his recruitment function into ship-shape would be a good place to start; if he could use data to diagnose the problems and help drive the solutions, all the better. He booked a meeting with his Head of Recruitment for the following afternoon. His HR Analytics journey was beginning to get funkier by the minute.

The HR Director starring in this series is entirely fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental... though perhaps not a surprise.