Relying on Surface Data?

In today’s corporate environment, data is king!

Every department from finance to sales uses historical data to guide their day-to-day operations. While HR is flush with metrics from sources such as HRIS (Human Resource Information System), recruiting systems, and learning systems, they continue to lag behind their counterparts in effectively understanding and forecasting their data.

I met with a senior HR leader at a local conference recently, and we were discussing the very relevant topic of turnover. So, I asked how his company was faring in that area. I was a bit surprised by his response. He said, “It’s great, we’re only turning over 8% versus an industry standard of 10%.” I followed up with a few drilldown questions.

  1. Do you know how much of that 8% are high performers?
  2. How difficult is it to backfill those roles that are turning over?
  3. Do you have any idea as to the root cause of the turnover you’re experiencing?

He chuckled and said he would love to have that kind of information on hand, but with over 15 HR applications he had no way of putting the data together to answer those questions. Thus, he was only seeing the tip of the iceberg, and was dangerously unaware of what the real health was of his workforce.

For far too long HR has only reviewed surface information and relied on conjecture and guesswork to fill in the blanks. However, some of the more progressive leaders in HR have started to embrace the concept of big data, and the value of digging into it. A study by leading think-tank, HRO Today, identified drilling down on HR metrics as one of the top 5 best practices of outperforming companies. More critically, CEO’s and CFO’s are starting to look to their HR leaders to provide access and visibility to these issues, and whether they have a positive (or negative) impact on the business. Keys among these metrics are:

  • Talent Shortages
  • Cost Per Hire
  • Revenue Per Employee
  • Absence Rate
  • Benefit Cost
  • Turnover
  • Tenure
  • Retirements and Demographic Shifts
  • Skill Levels


All of this leads to the bigger questions. It’s not where the organization is today, but how did it get here, and where is it going?

This is causing a greater collaboration between HR, line managers, and the C-suite in the effort to find and use specific metrics and analytics to run their business. Where HR was once the organizational stepchild who was forced to live on leftover budget at year end, such departments are now finding a seat at the table in helping drive top line business success. But to stay there, HR will need to provide, and keep providing actionable data aligning people and business success.

So, if you are an HR leader, don’t wait to be asked. Dig into that mountain of data in your HR systems with a solution that can provide the drill down metrics, and consequently the analytics that will help drive the business. That way, your department will be known for much more than what is only seen on the surface.

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