Colored blue background with numbersSeventy-seven percent of HR professionals do not know how workforce potential is affecting the company bottom line,” was the recent frank and disabling conclusion of a SHL survey of 600 HR professionals worldwide into how well HR understands big data. They went on to add that the, Big data deluge is leaving HR unclear on how talent data can enhance business results.”

It’s time to Gaze into the HR Big Data Crystal Ball

The survey found that even though workforce planning and predictive talent analytics were identified as one of their top five priorities, less than half of those surveyed were prepared to gaze into the HR Big Data Crystal – and use objective big data on employee skills and attributes to make workforce decisions.

Wake up call

This is a real wake up call to the Big Data industry; that is, it needs to increase its dialogue and engagement with the HR profession with a view to addressing the lack of understanding and communicating the features, benefits and practical applications of HR big data and predictive analytics to everyday business. The HR professionals also have a role to play in moving themselves closer to the big data debate so HR and big data solution providers can meet somewhere in the middle. The deluge of data can seem overwhelming for the HR professional – and can make HR Big Data seem impenetrable when it isn’t. And to prove it, I thought I would set out a few simple steps that HR teams can take to dip their toes in and maybe even come up waist high into the sea of HR Big Data.

You don’t have to get your hands dirty

The entry point into HR Big Data is surprisingly easy; as an HR professional you don’t even need to get your hands dirty with the nitty gritty of technology systems. Simply engage a graduate or post-graduate level HR/Business intern with data analysis skills to do the legwork for you in terms of building a business case, sourcing a technology provider, settings up systems for data capture and devising a dashboard and reporting system tailored to your HR team and business needs. It’s a perfect project for an HR Analyst intern, which means you can begin to incorporate big data into the business without even getting your hands dirty.

But you do need to dip your toes in a little

I realize that I said you don’t need to get your hands dirty, but you need to dip your toes in a little and learn all about the high-level applications of predictive Talent Analytics so you understand how it can help to address your relatively intangible business problems.

For example, predictive talent analytics are being used by the more progressive companies today to help them predict attrition rates in specific: areas, departments, functions, roles or territories within their businesses. It could help you to predict which hiring channels are likely to prove most effective in the future. It could tell you which groups of employees are the greatest flight risk. It might also be able to tell you which new starters/potential new starters are “high potentials” or ‘”flight risks.” These are all questions that CEOs want convincingly answered today.

So, now you know what kind of HR questions that predictive talent analytics can answer, it is now time to front up to your own organization and ask potentially uncomfortable questions about attrition rates, talent shortages and failure rates, safe in the knowledge that you have access to data tools, that if used correctly, can give you insights and foresights to make informed talent planning decisions to secure and enhance your talent supply chain long into the future.

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