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Beyond Big Data: How HR Data Impacts Organizational Effectiveness

Human resources and recruitment has long been associated with people management and soft skills that appear immeasurable. In order to have a seat at the table of “critical business,” it is imperative that metrics are tracked and analyzed to show that value of human resources and recruitment. Recently, talent acquisition thought leaders have recognized the growing value of metrics for business objectives and outcomes.

Put aside the buzzword “big data” and focus on the sheer data and insights obtained during the recruitment and hiring process. Josh Bersin recently wrote a post about “The Datafication of Human Resources,” which highlights examples of how organizations have utilized data to improve their organizations. Bersin states that every business process is now “datafied” – we monitor it, store its history and start to identify patterns of usage and, therefore, we can improve or monetize it better. Also, a related post regarding analytics by William Powell reviewed the increasing need for HR analysts. In this post, Powell focuses on the business impact of employee engagement and a need for a higher level role that would be able to provide insights, putting human resources at a more strategic level and giving them “a voice at the table.”

Uncovering useful data and metrics for business insights is valuable but the challenge lies in knowing what to track, how to track it and how to best present the data in order to drive meaningful change. Proposals, business engagements and forecasting must all be created on sound logic and metrics. After a recruitment plan is created, reviewed and implemented, the process becomes ongoing. Data is ever-changing and continual conversations, analysis and data presentations will reveal new opportunities. Tracking changes in the data also allows for more clarity, finite forecasting and provides further strategic insight into an organization’s workforce.

Collecting and analyzing the data must be fully utilized to drive this change. Organizations must listen to the business objectives, track and align metrics with organizational goals, be open to adapting the goals and ultimately drive talent acquisition change for results. Taking these steps with our clients allow them to fully understand how to tie the recruitment process and metrics to the rest of the business. Below will explain how to apply each of these steps to leverage change and create a dual accountability partnership.

Listen to business objectives.

A representative from talent acquisition should be at the executive table in order to understand the overall and individual departments’ strategies. Take notes about the concerns of every corner of the business – sales, operations, accounting, marketing and partnerships. Where is profit loss? What are the top concerns? Where does the company need to change – process, performance, technology? What leads to client retention? What is the focus for the future?

For example, a client came to us with the desire to increase its social media presence as well as change its corporate culture to be more “innovative.” Previously, the company’s talent acquisition initiatives focused on employee referrals and candidates applying through its website and job postings. After assessing the client’s current strategy and understanding its plans to increase its social media presence, a report was implemented that tracked social media efforts (outreach and where candidates were being found and ultimately hired). This report was then leveraged on weekly calls to discuss findings, ROI and solutions to current challenges. Within a year, our client saw a significant increase in passive candidate interest.

Track and align metrics for organizational effectiveness and goals.

Tracking and aligning metrics for organizational effectiveness are two vital components when creating a people development strategy. Metrics drive the organization in every department but understanding what metrics to align with organizational goals requires an individual to take a step back to see the overall picture. Established business objectives have metrics set in place but the challenge lies in effectively tying those to a talent management strategy. Once the problems are understood, we can connect them to the workforce. Then we can evaluate the existing situation and determine what is necessary for improvement or development.

One of our clients that competes in a highly competitive market for engineers provides an ideal example. It’s crucial to move candidates quickly through the interview process in order to hire the most qualified applicant and ensure a positive candidate experience. We consulted with our client on the importance of time-in-process as a critical business objective and then created reporting that highlighted how long candidates waited before their first interview, as well as how long candidates were in the interview process from start to finish. Any candidate in either process for what was determined as “too long” was addressed on a weekly call. This change in reporting increased accountability between the recruitment professionals and hiring managers, enabling qualified candidates to be engaged and hired faster.

Be open to adapting the goals.

Putting metrics in place equips organizations with the knowledge to evaluate successes and opportunities for improvement. The numbers serve as a guide to tell a story about what is happening within an organization’s entire strategy. Market agility proves to be a valuable characteristic of a growing and thriving business. Today’s just-in-time analytics and engagement arms businesses with continual feedback internally and externally. Although a tight feedback loop and increased information is useful, it must be purposefully applied. Change can be challenging but perspective is necessary. Listening to conversations and observing the bigger picture in the pursuit of the goals prepares organizations to be proactive in their adjustments.

We recently worked with a client to make its interview process more efficient and originally thought that the biggest impact causing a long interview process was lack of hiring manager responses. We provided a report that compiled a large number of candidates’ interview processes. What we found was that the offer approval stage was the longest process. Once this was identified, steps were developed in order to make this process more efficient, ultimately decreasing time-to-fill.

Drive talent acquisition change for results.

Talent acquisition is an ongoing process of attracting, sourcing, recruiting and hiring productive and engaged employees. This experience includes aspects of employment branding, outreach, networking and relationship building to improve an organization’s talent pool. Establishing objectives, tracking data, aligning data with the metrics and being open to adjustment will not add value without implementation and action. When an organization collects all of this information and areas for improvement or change have been recognized, a strategy must be established and implemented in the way talent is attracted, engaged, managed and retained. Effective tracking of the steps and methods enable an appropriate breakdown to adjust every approach for advancement.

We worked with a client that had very high turnover. We analyzed its recruiting metrics, exit interviews, market in which it recruited (to understand supply and demand) and compensation, among other data. We then consulted the company on how to restructure its profile, compensation and workforce planning in order to attract and retain better employees. These changes are positively affecting our client’s retention rate.

An organization’s workforce directly impacts business objectives. This concept may be challenging to comprehend or visualize long-term but an effective partner identifying these metrics has the potential to improve the bottom line. “Big data” cannot be the focus. There must be an ongoing evaluation of what information is most resourceful, the story revealed, how it impacts or represents goals and where in the hiring process change can be implemented. Partnering with or hiring a recruitment analyst who is continually immersed in this area of expertise establishes a proactive approach to effective talent management and a constant advancement of the process.

Written By: Megan Burkett

Megan’s role as a sourcing specialist with WilsonHCG goes beyond strategically finding candidates to fit her spaces. Her background in interpersonal and organizational communication and market research has led to her passion for meaningful analysis in HR and recruitment. Past experiences include public relations, non-profit, corporate research, and learning and development. Megan discovered her passion for social learning and the world of work through the #TChat community after receiving her Master’s from Ball State University. She’s a passionate free spirit always looking for quality conversation and analytical discoveries.

Connect with Megan Burkett on and LinkedIn

TAGS: HR Data

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