Why Data Will Break Down the Walls Surrounding HR

September 12, 2016 Zuman

A change is happening in HR departments across the world. As we've touched upon at several points in recent months, the worlds of HR and finance are finding ways to interact more effectively, and that has a number of important benefits. Chief among them, it's opening up HR departments to the many benefits of technology and similar innovations, and data especially helps to break down the walls many organizations built up over the years. Thanks to increasingly pronounced use of data, we're entering a new age of HR operations.

More understanding
As mentioned above, HR departments have always put up barriers in the past. But why the isolation? In a column for HR.com, executive Lisa Disselkamp explained these walls often came up when HR departments encountered an issue they couldn't explain. But with data, that sense of mystery is slowly being lifted, and the right sets can reveal the nuances of just about any problem HR might encounter, from recruitment goals to issues with benefits. Data sheds light on these areas and provides newfound clarity, and HR departments are now flushed with contextually appropriate information to better tackle these challenges. Having fewer barriers isn't just good for individual businesses, it also lets them reach out to other groups or organizations. That collaboration breeds better results.

Greater perspectives
As part of the "Global Human Capital Trends 2016" report, a team of researchers surveyed 7,000 global leaders. Of that sizable population, 51 percent indicated they used data to help improve overall workforce performance. By focusing on this area, data can help these organizations have a better sense of what's going on in the company and what they might expect in the near future. This kind of perspective is essential to success, and data helps by giving executives the ability to accurately chart where workers are and how to bolster efficiency or other essential traits. Data provides a concrete perspective on what works in the office - in terms of performance initiatives - and which employees have the most success.

Improved retention 
Data isn't just a way to help employees become more efficient or perform more effectively. The right sets of data can also offer great insight into the lives and attitudes of your workers, and this is an essential component to improving retention rates. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Xerox retained more employees through a simple implementation of big data. Specifically, the company reduced its attrition rate by over 20 percent by identifying the key issues that caused workers to leave, like issues with payroll or benefits that didn't meet personal needs. Through the use of data, Xerox found the best ways to encourage and inspire its employees, which kept workers feeling more engaged with the company's mission.

Expanded self-awareness
Ron Thomas is the director of talent and human resources solutions at Buck Consultants in New York City. Speaking with TechTarget, he explained the role of HR in the coming years is changing in one key way, "The future of the HR director is going from the generalist role to the strategist - the people strategist."

Companies that can't keep up with this shift, as Thomas and other executives explained, will find themselves struggling to keep up and maintain peak performance. Data is not just a way to catch up to other departments or companies, but to see exactly where issues might be with your outfit's infrastructure. Recognizing what works and doesn't within a company is essential for staying relevant, and data is a great resource for this ongoing analytical process. With this self awareness, companies can find new avenues to explore and streamline their overall processes; the HR department will lead the way with the right data sets.


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