Research commissioned by Cascade HR has revealed that big data is no longer just a buzzword feared by Human Resources. In fact, HR professionals seem to be prioritising its importance in businesses the length and breadth of the country. However, it appears there’s work to be done in the rest of their organisations, if this data is to have any real clout.

More than 350 mid-senior level HR practitioners from throughout the UK took part in the recent survey. A staggering 82% said data has grown in importance within their company over the last 12 months, with 89% predicting HR metrics will have an even bigger impact in the next three years.

The key topics being analysed are absences, currently a focal point for 85.59% of participants, closely followed by staff retention and attrition, with an 83.9% score. Performance was next in line, but seemingly much less of a priority, with only 57.63% of the votes.

Yet despite the varied mix of data being investigated, a total of 89.83% of respondents said they feel their reports make only some, or no contribution whatsoever, to their organisation.

This final figure evidences a clear area of concern, believes Cascade’s CEO Oliver Shaw, although he is unsurprised by the finding.

“It is great to see the Human Resources profession is no longer afraid of data,” he said. “And nor should they be. In the modern business environment, metrics aren’t just for data analysts – they are crucial to us all. What’s more, technology exists to help us capture, triangulate and act upon the trends and opportunities we uncover, which removes much of the potential headache associated with number crunching.

“However, there seems to be a huge anomaly between the effort HR teams put in, and the truly meaningful impact that such efforts have on the wider organisation. At this crucial transition period, the profession therefore needs to take a leap of faith, before all confidence surrounding big data is lost.”

And recognising which data will reap the most value in the boardroom, is key to instigating change, believes Oliver. “When I spoke at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition in early November, the theme of my seminar was understanding how to capture senior management’s attention. CEOs and directors need to know the key facts that will support or impede their business growth, and HR professionals have such metrics at their fingertips. I believe some simple tweaks to the way big data is harnessed and presented by HR teams, could result in significant progress.”

Oliver believes the findings of this recent Cascade survey could therefore look very different in 12 months’ time, providing the right action is taken moving forward. “With 78% of recipients stating they use a combination of HR software, ERP technology and spreadsheets to generate workforce data, the role that we, as vendors, play in shaping the profession’s strategic evolution, is clear.”

Cascade is therefore running a series of free HR hacks over the next 12 months, to improve HR teams’ management of human capital. Oliver concludes: “It is a very exciting time to be in HR. I think we’re at the turning point of the profession finally getting the recognition it deserves in the boardroom.”

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