Raw data from reports can be overwhelming," said Larry Dunivan, Ceridian's senior vice president of products and technology, and a 25-year veteran of the HR technology industry. "Analytics tools consolidate and manipulate that data more effectively, so you can quickly arrive at smarter decisions, helping HR contribute more directly in 
business activities." 

HR dashboards turn data into decisions

A senior executive asks you to provide data to help your company make a key operating decision. How would you respond?

A) Spend the entire day running reports, merging data and completing a detailed analysis in Excel.

B) Quickly use available metrics and past experience to identify the problem. Analyze metrics to gain insight and identify the best solution.

If you answered B, congratulations, you are well on the way to practicing "evidence-based" HR. But in an April 2012 Ceridian poll, 59 percent of respondents answered A, indicating many organizations still rely on traditional reporting tools and spreadsheets for their business intelligence needs.


 
 
Glossary
  • Data: Facts, statistics or pieces of information
  • Metrics: Data applied for the purpose of measurement
  • Analytics: Tools that interpret metrics to assist in decision-making
  • Dashboards: Analytics tools that display metrics in charts and graphs, tracking performance in key areas over time
 

Raw data from reports can be overwhelming," said Larry Dunivan, Ceridian's senior vice president of products and technology, and a 25-year veteran of the HR technology industry. "Analytics tools consolidate and manipulate that data more effectively, so you can quickly arrive at smarter decisions, helping HR contribute more directly in 
business activities."

At the heart of HR analytics is the dashboard, a data visualization tool that displays metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) in an easy-to-digest format. "Dashboards not only help you react quickly to requests for data, but also allow you to be proactive and spot trends before they become real problems," Dunivan said.

Dashboards consolidate metrics into an integrated user experience. Data is presented in snapshots and users may click through to drill deeper. Dashboards are often customized to various departments and roles within the organization, displaying information that is pertinent to each user. In Human Resources, dashboards often measure performance in key workforce areas over time, such as talent acquisition, performance management 
and headcounts.

Dunivan said Ceridian has developed dashboards to meet a variety of business intelligence needs, and will roll out Client Value Dashboards later this year to its EAP/Work-life and COBRA clients.

Voice-May2012-headcount-dashboard.jpg

"But just having a dashboard isn't enough," Dunivan said. "HR needs to create tools that provide operations leaders with actionable data that can be confidently used for decision-making, without additional reports."

Three steps to evidence-based HR

In an April 2012 Ceridian Connection webinar, Dunivan showed attendees how they can put analytics into practice in three steps:

  1. Identify the problem and gather data to gain visibility into it
  2. Analyze and correlate data to gain insight and understanding of the problem
  3. Incorporate the findings into a plan of action

Dunivan explained this process in terms of a case study: A manufacturing company with 2,000 employees had set a goal to grow its revenue through sales force expansion, but they had challenges maintaining their sales force capacity, let alone expanding it.

Using the three-step HR analytics approach and various headcount metrics, the organization was able to pinpoint a cause of the voluntary and involuntary terminations that were undermining their sales force capacity and subsequently revenue growth. By drilling into the data, they learned that the problem did not lie in their recruiting practices, as some within the business had assumed, but rather in the compensation and training of new hires.

The manufacturer arrived at a plan: To encourage greater success and retention in their sales force, they updated their commission structure and re-evaluated their on-boarding procedures. "In this example, HR analytics tools helped the company overcome anecdotal opinions to reach an actionable, fact-based decision," Dunivan said.

Where to begin?

After Dunivan's presentation, one attendee asked, "My data is such a mess. Where would I even begin?" In his response, Dunivan emphasized the biggest mistake is often trying to do too much right away. His advice: "Start small."

  • Work with IT to clean up your data, reconciling any inconsistencies and redundancies
  • Define the metrics you wish to track, focusing on only those with the greatest business impact
  • Approach business unit leaders to collaborate and support your efforts
  • Achieve small successes to drive greater investments in analytics tools and dashboards

"Find like-minded managers in your organization and show them what you can do strategically with the data you have today. They will become evangelists for your cause and help to generate buy-in from the other business units and eventually senior executives," Dunivan said.

Earning your seat at the table

Fifty-two percent of executives in a recent Aberdeen study said, "HR spends too much time on day-to-day tactical HR activities." HR analytics are an opportunity to prove them wrong and to demonstrate the value of Human Resources as a true strategic partner that can positively impact the business.

Is your company using an HR dashboard today, or are you considering implementing this technology? Share your comments below.

For more information:

  • Watch the recording of our HR analytics webinar
  • View our HR analytics infographic