The managerial HR professional

Although the use of data analytics is growing, opinions remain divided about what this means for the future of HR departments. On the one hand, being able to link HR data to corporate data means HR departments are better connected than ever to an organisation’s central business objectives. On the other hand, skeptics argue that you cannot learn about people and their abilities by looking at statistics. Whichever side you're on, one thing is certain: the HR world is changing and those who fail to get on board with big data will ultimately be left behind.

Gaping hole

Rightly or wrongly, there is an increasing feeling that HR professionals need to possess a working knowledge of data analytics for them to be able to contribute to the business strategy of an organization in the future. However, as analytics still takes a back seat in HR training, there is an increasingly big divide developing between a firm’s expectations and the actual capabilities of its HR staff. Closing this gap means starting at the beginning and rethinking HR training. Ultimately, it isn’t as simple as just teaching students the basics of data analytics, the training must also focus on the real-world and human benefits that can arise through its application.

Training ground

There are certain initiatives already in place to help students get comfortable with HR analytics. Think of a training ground, where students experiment with fictional company data. They learn to perform analysis based on this data, making decisions on replica situations to those they will face in their professional lives. This type of training is invaluable – students learn to give business advice based on that analysis, to back up gut instinct with factual data. They learn to spot both where skills are in abundance and where they’re lacking within a company and then to cross reference that with age, function and salary.  It can be an incredible advantage – consider budget cuts for example, students are much better placed to give advice on how an organization can implement cuts in relation to staffing if that advice is based on data analysis.

Future of HR analytics

When courses begin to fully explore the possibilities of HR analytics, they will produce more valuable professionals to the business. HR professionals with knowledge of analytics will fare much better in the 'war for talent'. With the use of data, talent can be easily unearthed from within an organization. Firms can easily establish what kind of talent they need, where that talent is inside the company and how they can develop that talent further.  

In addition, HR professionals with knowledge of analytics are able to be more closely aligned with Finance Departments in the future. While the HR department is often seen as a separate island, HR and Finance departments could join forces and begin to work together on data analysis, which, in turn, will help HR departments of the future occupy a stronger position within organisations.