No, analytics isn’t taking ‘human’ away from HR!

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HR analytics plays a crucial role in today’s corporate world, allowing organisations to better understand intricate details on employee behaviour and trends, organisational weaknesses, and aid in essential contract negotiations. However, the question that arises today is whether it has taken away from the role of an HR professional.

Many in other fields of work describe the onset of computerised analytics to be detrimental to the ‘human aspect’ of analysis. A key instance of such would be in sports, namely basketball.

In the National Basketball League (NBA), players are judged on their plus-minus (+/-) performance per game. A statistic measured each game to assess a player’s impact on the score. A positive +/- meaning the player had a positive impact on the score and the opposite for a negative +/-, without being affected by the result of the game.

What many people fail to realise is a player could have a very high +/- if they score at a high volume, on a bad team, shooting their average +/- up and making them look like a top player.

A player playing at a very high level on a winning team without contributing to the score at the exponential levels would be more valuable to an organisation than the player mentioned above.

One of the major aspects in sports and business is a person’s ability to work in a team. This is when analytics fails us.

In an analytics driven league, the +/- could affect a players potential in getting a larger contract. A player could score at a very high clip but in turn cause the team more harm than good. The same is true in business.

Many large organisations have faced huge lawsuits because of those who were perceived to be high performance leaders, but were reported to be terrible to their employees.

Analytics do a very good job focusing on one specific aspect and based on some predetermined factors to find a specific result, but fail at making well informed judgments when tasked with multiple metrics.

HR professionals are tasked with numerous key roles in an organisation. HR tools have integrated artificial intelligence (AI) softwares and performance analysis metrics on these tools to assist HR professionals gain a better understanding of their current workforce and future hires.

“If an organisation does not understand the importance of human intervention and understanding while executing a plan based on analytics, it will not be able to get the right inputs necessary,”

Chandrashekhar Mukherjee, sr. president – HR & CHRO, Bhilosa Group

Even with these technological advancements, HR professionals are required to keep a close eye on their workforce to make better decisions as there are still too many flaws with HR analytics for it to be run on its own without human intervention.

“It is essential to use HR analytics as an aid to making decisions. Understanding the human aspects along with the culture of the organisation is essential. Organisational maturity plays a large role when making decisions on the basis of analytical research. If an organisation does not understand the importance of human intervention and understanding while executing a plan based on analytics, it will not be able to get the right inputs necessary,” details Chandrashekhar Mukherjee, sr. president – HR & CHRO, Bhilosa Group.

When implementing large analytics projects, it becomes very easy for organisations to bite off more than they can chew on that front. Large analytics projects take years of data collection and in most cases form a lot of irrelevant data when it finally gets processed, leaving an organisation with huge amounts of data that cannot be used to analyse their present workforce.

“HR analytics is essential from a decision making perspective, but many organisations fail to reap the rewards of the data collected because of the lack of direction when collecting data,”

Jacob Jacob, CHRO, Malabar Group

These large projects add little or no value in actually understanding an organisation’s workforce, rather confusing the ones decoding the information with arbitrary information regarding the employees.

Jacob Jacob, Group CHRO, Malabar Group, echoes the same when speaking about HR analytics and its uses. He believes, “they are essential from a decision making perspective, but many organisations fail to reap the rewards of the data collected because of the lack of direction when collecting data, resulting in a collection of basic information.”

As organisations collect more and more data, interpreting the information and ensuring privacy becomes crucial for them..When not interpreted correctly the data collected could prove to be useless. HR tech has still not reached a point where it can decode the information found in these surveys on its own.

The day machine learning can master human thinking ability and creativity along with delivering it with empathy, may be that day not only HR head but every leadership role would be no longer required

Vivek Mukherjee, CHRO, Benetton India

Vivek Mukherjee, CHRO, Benetton India,  details some of the issues faced while trying to decode the information from these surveys and why it is imperative that organisations employ quality HR teams to do so.

“Power, Privacy and Protocol are the three key issues faced when decoding data from HR analysis programs. Ensuring that no bias dilutes the data, understanding that the information found might not be the end all be all of a certain situation and protecting one’s data with utmost maturity and confidentiality is crucial when handling such sensitive information,” says Mukherjee.

HR analytics projects have to be tailored to an organisation’s internal policies as well as comply with data policies externally. Data analysis and research has been a topic of conversation these past few years and many international and national laws are constantly being tweaked to ensure data privacy for all parties involved.

“General and personal data should not be disclosed to any outside source, but is crucial when making predictive analysis. Looking at compensation, internal and external benchmarks are imminent for decision making, but consent is required when it needs to be passed on,” says Jacob.

In the end, HR tech has still not reached a place where it could possibly start taking away from the human aspects of HR, as it is still dependent on a lot of external factors when making decisions.

HR tech is still very dependent on human intervention and interpretation as a lot of the decisions made in an organisation are still based on human factors.

Vivek says, “The day machine learning can master human thinking ability and creativity along with delivering it with empathy, may be that day not only HR head but every leadership role would be no longer required, however till then HR head role along with every people leader role is here to stay.”

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