How to Use Data Analysis to Win With Leadership

For many HR professionals, data can feel enigmatic. Many HR professionals I’ve talked to have mentioned that data analysis sounds good in theory but it’s not something that is their primary focus when it comes to justifying budgetary needs to their leadership team. It’s common to hear about how it can help tell a story within the organization but it’s equally common for organizations not to know how to tell that story.

So, where does your HR team start with data analysis? First, think about the story you want to tell. Common stories might include:

Justification of actions or headcount costs

  • Training programs

  • Time to fill certain positions

  • Requests for new or job specific technology/resources

Making leadership aware of how training impacts the bottom line

  • Legal suits against the organization

  • Unemployment claims

  • Fines

  • Hiring/Recruitment actions

These aren’t inclusive of all stories, but the goal here is to get you thinking! Before rushing in to gather data I do recommend compiling a list of what story you’re trying to tell since you will very probably have overlapping data points and this will help save you time overall.

Now that you have your list compiled, it’s time to think about what data you need and the formulas required (math isn’t most folks’ favorite subject, but I promise it’s worth it!). As an example, let’s assume that you would like to make leadership aware of a potential problem with a hiring manager’s recruitment strategies. Perhaps you’ve gotten wind of some questions that aren’t 100% appropriate or you’ve noticed that their last 5 new hires are all the same ethnicity, age, and gender. There are probably a few stories that can be told here (maybe our candidate pool isn’t diverse, or we’re using technology is inadvertently filtering out qualified candidates based on a bias, among others) but we’ll focus on just one for now and consider that perhaps the hiring manager has a hidden bias.

In this situation, you would want to use a spreadsheet to compile data from past candidates’ applications including their age, ethnicity, gender, education, experience, when they applied/the position they applied to, and a unique identifier such as an email address or social security number (you’ll need this to help you calculate totals). Possibly others as well, but we’ll keep it simple for now. I personally recommend looking back at data a bit further than you feel might be necessary. In this situation, you would want to consider more than the last 5 jobs that the hiring manager filled since the problem (if any are found) will likely have been around for longer than those 5 recruitment cycles. (Three years is typically what I use, but each case is different.)

From there, you’ll need to use the data to “pool” the candidates together by the position they applied to - this is critical because you will need to see how the data breaks down for each group of applicants. Once you have the “pools” identified, you’re ready to start digging down your data even further to show the breakdowns between each group.

I have data compiled into charts below so it's easier to see the correlation in the data (rather than showing it as a difficult to digest spreadsheet).

As shown in the example charts above, your hiring manager appears to have a preference for a very specific type of candidate and, it's possible that further analysis will reveal, they aren’t taking education or years of experience into consideration when making hiring decisions. In looking at this data and deciding what to do about this newfound information, you might suggest to leadership that this manager undergo some interview and hiring training. Perhaps this is something taking place in the hiring manager’s department as a whole and needs to be reviewed on a larger scale.

So, how does this help you win with leadership? By telling the story and providing a recommended action to fix it, you help set yourself (and your team) up as problem solvers instead of firefighters. Having been both in my professional career, I can say with 100% certainty that I greatly prefer being a problem solver who thinks forward to anticipate potential issues than someone who is always in reaction mode. You can also win with leadership by positively impacting your organization’s bottom line by solving issues before they become employee relations issues or lawsuits. This in turn can help you get budget items approved down the road as your leadership team comes to realize that HR isn’t just there to hire and fire. You really are there to help!

Still not sure where to start or need a little extra help with compiling and analyzing your organization’s data? ABetterHR is here to help! Give us a call, send us an email, or schedule a time to discuss your goals and how we can best help you get to your Better.


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