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Improving Organizational Performance with Data-Driven HR


Does your organization have a data-oriented culture and does your leadership team promote data-driven decision making? If your answer is no, then it's time for you to emphasize, debate, discuss and focus on building a data-driven culture. It's a good idea to enable your HR teams to showcase data insights and offer recommendations based on organisational data. I do not want to bore you with the philosophy; a lot has already been said. Let's instead focus on three specific aspects of data analytics which are less spoken about, however, must be emphasized to help HR drive a data-driven organization:


1. Data visualization

2. Storytelling through data

3. Data analytics competencies of the future


Data Visualization

For a data analyst, numbers, graphs, charts and percentages might make perfect sense, but would it help someone from a non-analytics background, looking at it for the first time?

Stick to these three basic guidelines:

1. Keep it simple - The message has to be clear to everyone, even when you not there to explain it.

2. Share insights and not just data points - Clearly communicate insights and patterns. Share the most valuable nuggets that are tied to a business problem.

3. Correlate insights with impact - Talk about the insights you have drawn and their possible impact on business and management decisions.

The key focus should be on collecting the right data, working on the relevant business problems, devising simulations to test the hypothesis and ensuring insights are generated so that business leaders can arrive at decisions faster.


Storytelling through Data

Sharing demographics isn’t good enough. If your data is not aiding quick decision-making, you are possibly wasting the organization’s time. Even the best of insights and graphics won’t matter unless we have the relationship, cultural awareness and understanding of the business context.


Take the following into account:

1. The big fat business problem - A concrete business problem should form the core of how we talk about our data insights and the solutions we propose.

2. Trust and credibility - While we may have data insights, we would still need trusted relationships across the organization to persuade business leaders to trust our perspective.

3. Link to the business problem - Decision-makers will listen only when they can clearly see how our findings tie back to a problem that must be resolved.

4. Fall back on storytelling - Weave a story that helps explain the implications rather than just delivering data points. This will help paint a complete picture.

Never let anyone walk away from a presentation asking, “So what?”

Preparing For the Future of Data Analytics in HR

In my opinion, the future will not be about efficiency. Analytics tools are evolving and irrespective of the industry or the size of an organization, there will be AI platforms that will spit out data insights. The future will be about co-creation - wherein HR teams and data scientists will collaborate to create AI platforms.

The competencies to focus on will be:

1. Geographic data governance and compliance – Check the source of your data to ensure that it’s compliant with government and company policies. Design data controls to ensure that data usage and security is not compromised. Data security will no longer be an IT-only aspect of an organization.

2. Data interrogation – A complete grasp on the AI platform, algorithm and output to identify patterns of bias is essential. Ensure that the AI platform and internal and external data bench-marking algorithms are free of bias.

3. Data story-boarding – Make use of available data insights to connect the dots and offer possible solutions to existing and future business problems.

Now would be a good time for HR professionals and organisations to start building these competencies. The future belongs to those who can utilize the knowledge of the craft and co-create solutions that will solve business problems.

It is to be noted that the declaration of a shift towards a data-driven approach by Human Resources, can, at times, intimidate executives and managers. More often than not, the on-ground tribal instincts and data insights will contradict each other. Therefore, it’s always prudent to take a collaborative approach; encourage business leaders to question the methods and data quality. That will be a good start towards a great data-driven organisation.


The author, Budhaditya Dasgupta is a Regional HR Leader currently working out of Singapore. A pragmatic leader with extensive experience across industries in multiple geographies, he believes in the value that HR brings to the table in building great organizations. 

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