Don Charlton

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Human Resources is going through a transformation. More and more, HR professionals are striving to take on new functions within their organizations and are replacing traditional tasks with strategic partnerships. One study by KPMG points out the potential for “evidence-based HR to be the bridge between your people and delivering business strategy.” Those that have already achieved recognition as specialists in strategic planning are no longer perceived as barriers to doing business. These key business drivers offer business leadership insight into maximizing operational efficiency, reducing expenses, and planning for employees to fill the roles critical to their future success.

Designing the Future Through Technology and Analysis

It wasn’t very long ago that the primary role of HR was to maintain employee records. Responsibilities were transactional, and HR staff members handled the technical end of hiring and firing, along with payroll and benefits. Now, advances in HR technology have relegated most of the basic data entry to managers, and HR professionals are using new tools to design the future.

Through careful analysis of personnel data, HR can now make evidence-based recommendations on staffing that directly impact businesses’ bottom lines. For example, analysis of HR data for McDonald’s restaurants in the United Kingdom demonstrated greater customer satisfaction in stores employing at least one staff member over the age of 60. Based successes like these, a full 82 percent of executives surveyed have plans to increase use of this sort of data within the next three years.

Mixing Art and Science to Build Productivity

HR staff members are uniquely positioned to use date in the creation of more effective organizations, as they have the specialized knowledge to mix analytical science with the art of managing people. However they must first re-brand themselves in the eyes of leadership. In one survey, 30 percent of non-HR leaders believe that a lack of skills and analytical experience will prevent HR staff from making a real contribution in this area.

Transforming HR will require increased focus on developing business partners’ skill levels in turning analytical insight into action. However, simply learning the skills of analysis doesn’t get the job done, which is why specialized HR knowledge is so critical. For example, data can show the specific rate at which increased employee engagement results in increased productivity, but the development of effective engagement programming requires an entirely distinct set of skills. Jet Blue’s Mike Elliott put it best when he said, “Evidence gets you on the highway, but then we have to determine the lane we drive in.”

Evidence-based HR is transforming the way people are managed. As the HR function evolves from a transactional model to a partner in designing the future, HR professionals will shake off their reputations as obstacle-creators and adopt new roles as opportunity-makers.



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