So …. how can we figure it out?
Many candidates at interviews for entry-level roles in human resources (HR) are asked the standard question, “Why do you want to join this profession?” and just as quickly comes the predictable answer, “Because I’m a people person.”. This is coded language for “Why don’t you want to be a proper manager?” and “Because I hate figures.”
This is a gross misrepresentation, of course, but there is some truth here based on my, limited, experience of relating with many thousands of HR managers in many companies across a range of industries in 6 continents. Such avoidance of quantitative analysis sometimes mimics an automatic or allergic response. Fear-based behaviors are usually illogical and may find their stimulus not in the present reality but instead can be found in a childhood dislike for math, or at least for the poor teacher who tried so valiantly to impart her wisdom.
However, for so long, HR leaders have been wanting ‘a seat on the board’. Unfortunately, the other board members seem to communicate with each other in a different language, using not just numbers, but graphs, charts and visualizations. This has done nothing to assist with an invitation to the HR expert to join this, usually male, elite group. The hapless ‘people person’ so often relies instead on her experience, her intuitions, and her insights. Increasingly, those in the C-suite are expecting – even demanding – data, evidence, and analysis.
HR analytics is a cognate area that has recently grown in credibility not just among those in
academia, but also among seasoned practitioners. Developing from HR balance sheets,
dashboards, and notions of ROI, HR analytics is fast becoming the necessity that differentiates candidates at interview, that enables HR professionals to make and substantiate strategic decisions, and that provokes a positive acceptance by those in the boardroom.
With some justification, experts in HR have been joined by their colleagues in both the IT and finance functions when bemoaning the lack of objective, credible, substantive, and applicable metrics in the human capital management (HCM) arena. Due diligence by potential investors, employees, clients, and suppliers have been wanting frequent HCM reports. Professional institutes have argued long for the application of human capital disclosure and integrated reporting. Financial auditors, advisers, and others involved in mergers and acquisitions have longed for HCM standards and measures that
are applicable regardless of the organisation’s size, location, industry, or sector.
There are many well-known HCM platforms, each of which have many features and benefits, but using these across a large organisation in a consistent manner has sometimes proved difficult, for many reasons. Comparisons between organisations for the purpose of benchmarking have similarly been frustrating. Differences are soon revealed even in, say, a medium-sized company when different heads of department are asked the straightforward question, “How many staff have you got?”
Finally, the drivers for change and the various stakeholders can now have their needs met with the publication of the new standard ISO 30414:2018 – HCM reporting.
Yes, thank you for this!
In order for our profession to "get a seat at the table" we have to think like we are already there. We have to understand our business, and if we don't, we have to know how to get there. As a profession, we need to make more logical, fact/metric based decision making. Yes, people are our core responsibility, which is exactly why we need to get better at this!
Do you have any ideas how we can get there? I'd love to continue this conversation!