Most organizations can’t measure the success or failure of investment in talent, but in many organizations roughly 60-70 percent of all expenses are consumed by the workforce. As the business landscape becomes more competitive, HR professionals must increasingly pay attention to workforce analytics to connect human capital and performance with management strategy and business goals.
So, what are workforce analytics? These advanced data analysis tools measure workforce performance and improvement. Mark Huselid, Distinguished Professor of Workforce Analytics and Director of the Center for Workforce Analytics at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, explains that diving into the data allows organizations to define the appropriate knowledge and skills necessary for the success of the business, evaluate workforce performance, develop succession plans and – most importantly – retain valuable top talent.
“In other words, workforce analysis is aimed at answering the question, where is our talent and how can we effectively invest in it moving forward?” said Professor Huselid. “Leaders need to invest in top talent and place them in appropriate roles so they can best meet the needs of the business’ constituencies.”
The emergence of Big Data over the past 10-15 years has substantially increased the demand for managers with relevant analytical skills. Recognizing talent management and workforce development is essential, which is why HR needs to play a management role in developing corporate strategy.
“There is a general acceptance that we as HR professionals need to do a better job at managing talent,” said Professor Huselid. “The challenge is asking the right questions to identify what work needs to be done better and finding the absolute right fit for that task.”
Most organizations tend to invest in talent hierarchically, where senior-level talent gets the most pay, best development opportunities and other professional perks. However, organizations should be managing vertically in who and what really matters – and in measuring and managing the outcomes associated with these processes.
So, how do advanced analytics allow organizations to solve workforce management problems?
“Analytics present a tremendous opportunity to help organizations understand what they don’t yet know,” explained Professor Huselid. “Advancements in data and infrastructure allow companies to dig into the small changes in workforce investments that produce huge gains in performance. By identifying trends and patterns, HR professionals and management teams can make better strategic decisions about the workforce challenges that they may soon face.”
Professional research and training programs, like the Center for Workforce Analytics at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, can help HR managers understand how not only best allocate talent, but to accurately measure how well an organization is working. The Center for Workforce Analytics is a research and outreach group is dedicated to advancing the science and practice of workforce analytics and to helping organizations effectively execute their strategies through the workforce. The Center believes that the practice of evidenced-based management is best facilitated by close partnerships between the academic and practitioner communities and is therefore focused on delivering leading edge research and outreach programs focused the development and implementation of workforce metrics and analytics.
“When it comes to talent management, HR professionals don’t yet have the perfect solution for measuring individual impact in the greater success or failure of an organization,” said Professor Huselid. “New developments in big data and business analytics allow companies to look in the mirror and explore the best options for their individual situations.”
To learn more about how the D’Amore-McKim School of Business is helping to develop innovative workforce management strategies for HR professionals or to connect with Professor Huselid, please visit the D’Amore-McKim website and learn more about how custom executive education works by clicking here.