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Are you Upskilling your HR Team in Analytical Thinking?

17 min read

Do You Have a Place at the Business High Table? 

Picture this: You are the HR head of your company and right now, you are in your CEO’s office where all department heads, VPs, directors and the entire company leadership have gathered to discuss stagnation in quarterly growth.  

When you envision this scenario, 

Do you envision yourself being able to speak your mind?  

Does your CEO listen to you, or do they dismiss you? 

If you feel that, as an HR, you are not taken seriously enough, you are not alone.  

In a survey conducted by Accenture, 55% of the CEOs surveyed admitted that they are not taking steps to create conditions that enable CHROs to lead business growth.  

Business leadership has always been considered a high table where HRs rarely find a seat. Even if they do, it’s at the corner where their voice is either drowned or ignored.  

The good news: according to the above-mentioned survey, 89% of CEOs expressed that they want CHROs to have a central role in ensuring long-term profitable growth.  

The question is, how do we get there? 

Let’s find out! 

The Language of CEOs and Business Leaders 

CEOs and business leaders speak and listen to numbers. Because numbers don’t lie. They care about real data and analytics. It’s the language they speak in.  

As an HR, it becomes imperative that you not only understand data but are also able to identify challenges and present your inputs. Nothing garners the attention of business leaders like data-backed inputs.  

In order to speak their language, you first need to ask yourself the following questions:   

  • Are you, yourself well versed in data?  
  • Have you understood its significance and are ready to upskill your HR team in it? 
  • Are you able to use data to identify measures that could lead to desired business outcomes? 

Businesses Expect More from HRs Now! 

Businesses have realized that employee experience is at the core of customer experience. Due to this, HRs have been reinstated as one of the primary drivers of business growth who directly influence and change the trajectory of an organization.  

Apart from people processes, HRs are the architects and facilitators of employee success. Business leaders expect them to drive positive change in culture, organizational processes, and the overall work environment. Since they are at the center of people strategy, it’s natural that employees will look up to them as coaches.  

As data strategists, HRs have to ensure their efforts and work is oriented towards results and becomes evidence-based. Being data-driven also means that your CEO will expect you to foresee future challenges such as attrition and prepare the organization for any eventuality.  

Today’s CEOs expect HRs to: 

  • Work with them as strategic partners 
  • Drive employee engagement and positive culture 
  • Champion diversity, equity, and inclusion 
  • Be forward-thinking to anticipate change and prepare for the future 
  • Leverage data to gather insights 
  • Measure the effectiveness of HR initiatives 
  • Empower them with data-backed information to assist in framing the right policies 

In other words, the competencies based on which your CEO will measure you as an HR would be strategic and tactical. They will be more result-oriented than effort-based. HRs cannot meet these expectations unless they upskill themselves in data and analytical thinking.  

CEO's expectations from HR

The Colossal Impact of Data-driven HR 

Despite being a business function that directly deals with an organization’s most valuable resource, HR has traditionally been away from a data-driven approach. It’s only recently that HR has started incorporating data and analytics into its strategy and operations, becoming more strategic in the process.  

With the ongoing disruptions and reliance on tech by all business functions, becoming data-driven is not an option anymore. HR has to become more and more data-driven to match the expectations of businesses and employees.  

  1. A data-driven HR function is easier to align with the strategic goals of an organization 
  2. It would help a business stay consistent and systematic in decision-making to drive desired results 
  3. An HR function that is driven by analytically savvy professionals will also ensure risks are prevented effectively

The First Step towards Upskilling your HR Team in Analytics    

Let’s cut to the chase. 

What should be your first step if you want to upskill your HR team in analytics?  

It is categorizing each member of the team as follows: 

  • HRs who are analytically savvy 
  • HRs who are analytically willing 
  • HRs who are analytically resistant 

Let’s explore each of them with a story.  

#1 – The Story of an Analytically Savvy HR 

Sana has recently joined an ERP company as an HR generalist. After completing her MBA in HR, she took a couple of courses in data analytics. If she is asked about her interests, her eyes light up and she keenly launches an explanation about data, analytics, and their role in effective human resource management. “The possibilities are endless!” she exclaims, as she pauses to draw her breath.  

Her reporting manager, Sid the HR head of the company, observed her keenness. “We want everyone in the HR team to think about data like you do, Sana.” He said. He then aligned two members, Nihal and Nandini from the recruitment team with her. During a coffee break, he went on to explain how data can be used to make recruitment easier, faster, and strategic.  

Within six months, Nihal and Nandini were using basic data analytics to identify the following: 

  • During campus hiring, which college had sourced the most easy-to-train freshers 
  • Which job posting platforms are suitable for which job profile 

Both Nihal and Nandini used these findings to streamline their hiring strategy. They were able to find the right candidates in a relatively shorter time.
HRs who are Analytically Savvy
In the above story, it appears that Sid did nothing but align Sana with Nihal and Nandini. However, if you observe carefully, Sid actually did quite a lot. The following is Sid’s cheat sheet.  

How to Identify those Who are Analytically Savvy:

You can categorize team members as analytically savvy if they are: 

  • formally trained in data analytics  
  • adept at working with data and interpreting it 

Your Action Plan for Analytically Savvy HRs:

  • Classify them as evangelists for analytical thinking  
  • Give them clear objectives about which members are they supposed to mentor  
  • Provide them with opportunities to learn and upskill themselves 
  • Encourage them to participate in relevant meetups, events, and conferences

#2 – A Tale of Analytically Willing HRs

Let’s continue the story where we left it.  

After Nihal and Nandini’s remarkable success in streamlining the recruitment process, they (and Sana) have become heroes. Lunch hour on Friday is usually a festive affair at the company. The HR team gathers to share their plans for the weekend. However, this was not the case last Friday when Nihal and Nandini closed hiring requests before deadlines. Across the lunch table, the discussion centered around how data can ease everyone’s work.   

As the duo explained what they had done, there was a very visible spark in the eyes of many others who wanted to follow in their footsteps. Everyone listened with rapt attention as Sana explained the possibilities about how data and analytics could be used.  

The entire four-member team that handled training and development requested Sana to help them build a program of curated sources and courses to learn data analytics.  

When Sid heard about this, he was jubilant. This was exactly what he wanted. He lauded Sana for helping everyone understand the importance of data and analytics and requested her to help team members put their learnings into practice.  

When the Training and Development team completed the beginners’ courses in data analytics, they were raring to go. Since the L&D platform they used to manage internal training was inbuilt, they got in touch with the Development team and requested the following data about product training: 

  • How many new joiners start consuming L&D sessions on the first day of joining? 
  • At what time does the platform witness highest internal traffic? 
  • Which module has the highest exit rate or dropout rate? 
  • What is the average time spent to consume and complete the entire product training course? 

The above data helped them gather information about the adoption level of training programs.   

The above twist in the story underlines what to do with the second category, those who are not adept in data analytics but are willing to learn and use data and build analytical thinking capabilities. In order to do that, you can use the following steps.  

HRs who are Analytically Willing

How to Identify those who are Analytically Willing:

You can categorize team members as analytically willing if they are: 

  • Willing to embrace data and analytics in their work  
  • Capable of learning and upskilling themselves in data, even though they have not had formal training  

Your Action Plan for Analytically Willing HRs:

  • Provide foundational education in HR analytics 
  • Ask them to complete beginner-level courses online 
  • Ask them to put their learning into daily operations and practice  
  • The above should be clearly noted as goals and metrics in performance management 

#3 – The Final Hurdle – Analytically Resistant Team Members 

Our story continues… 

While there were people who were excited and happy for Sana, the recruitment team, and the L&D team, there were some who saw this as a threat to the old ways. Nutan, a senior HR generalist had even suggested that all this ‘data stuff’ was a ‘fad’ that will soon be forgotten. 

“Manual methods are safest in HR operations. No need to worry about errors,” she said to Sid during a coffee break.  

“But don’t you think you have to spend a lot of time and effort on something that could be done within seconds or minutes?” Sid asked, taking a sip from his coffee.  

“Like what exactly?” Nutan asked.  

Sid put down his cup of coffee and turned completely towards Nutan. “Imagine if you get a specific number of how many HR helpdesk requests you are going to get each month. Won’t it help you plan your work better?” he asked.  

“I guess so…” Nutan responded thoughtfully. 

“I guess you see an uptick in helpdesk related requests in the month where everyone files their taxes and the month when we onboard more employees. Imagine how well can you plan your work if you have this data?” Sid asked her.  

“All I am asking you is to explore it as a possibility. Maybe you will like it. Maybe you won’t.” Sid concluded as he swallowed the last sip of his coffee.  

While Nutan didn’t become an enthusiast of analytical thinking overnight, his perception did change when he saw how data analytics could make her work easier and more streamlined. 

Team members who are not ready for change would need to see how data and analytics could change their work for the better. This is how it can be done.   

HRs who are Analytically Resistant

How to Identify those who are Analytically Resistant: 

You can categorize team members as analytically resilient if they: 

  • do not comprehend the value of a data-based approach 
  • are not ready to move away from old, manual processes 
  • have not had the right exposure to the power of data analytics 

Your Action Plan for those who are Analytically Resistant: 

  • Demonstrate how an analytics-based approach will make their work more effective 
  • Pair them with colleagues who are analytically skilled and enthusiastic about data 
  • Don’t expect them to drop their resistance overnight 
  • The goal is to make them start recognizing the importance of an analytics-based approach 

Cast your Net Wide! 

While a data-based approach is desired for the HR function, it’s also important to remember that not all aspects of people management could be quantified. As Simon Sinek said, “Employees are more than just numbers on a spreadsheet. They are the lifeblood of any organization, and their contributions cannot be reduced to mere statistics.” 

When they gather data, many organizations make the mistake of limiting the exercise to easily quantifiable aspects. Employee interaction and feedback are also equally important sources to drive desired results.  

A great example of this could be Google’s Project Oxygen, through which the company was able to identify 8 key attributes of successful managers. Google was able to do this thanks to a comprehensive analysis of performance reviews, feedback surveys, and other data on thousands of Google employees.  

Don’t Get Left Behind in the Race  

Today, the world is experimenting and adopting generative AI in different areas of operations. Without building analytical competencies and a deep understanding of data, HR will be left far behind in the race. Working with data is the competency of today and tomorrow as it transforms you into a better, more informed, and more capable HR professional.  

Keka has always been a vociferous proponent of HR upliftment. Our very inception is centered around enabling HRs to make the shift from administrative HR to strategic HR.  

Apart from empowering HRs through our reliable HRMS, we are also spearheading a movement of bridging the gap between theoretical and practical HR.  

If you want to get started with upskilling your HR team in analytics and other core areas, then Keka Academy is the right place.  

Explore our certification courses and face new challenges fearlessly! 

Table of Contents

    Meet the author

    Ahmed ZD

    Ahmed is a storyteller and a bookworm. He has joined Keka to be a part of its HR transformation cause. He loves telling untold stories and believes that all objects (even a brick that has fallen from a wall) and living beings have unique stories that deserve to be told. He is a firm believer that no movie can ever do justice to the book it's based on and it's his lifelong mission to convince everyone he meets to read books before they watch movie adaptations.


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