‘HR held back by failure to use data effectively’

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Although most HR managers trumpet the importance of data and insight as vital to inform recruitment decisions, about half of UK organisations rely on instinct and gut feel when it comes to assessing skills.

Research published this week by Capita Resourcing based on interviews with 2,850 employees and managers, has revealed that a large proportion (50%) of HR leaders believe that at least half of all skills gaps within their organisation could be addressed by better use of data, and 45% believe that data and insight will enable them to predict future skills gaps before they become problematic.

But senior business leaders, said the report, pointed to HR as the function that has made least progress in using data and insight to optimise and measure performance, with 24% stating HR was the worst at collecting analysing and using data.

HR leaders were not unaware of this criticism, the research found, with a third of HR leaders reporting that successful use of data in other parts of the business was shining the spotlight on the failure to use data more effectively within recruitment.

Importantly, because of the lack of progress in data usage, only 22% of HR leaders were “extremely confident” their organisation had access to all the skills it needed to meet business objectives over the next five years.

The sheer volume of workforce data generated by HR was cited by 40% of HR leaders as a key challenge preventing the analysis of data to provide insight. Other barriers included lack of budget (32%) and outdated technology (26%), with 25% of respondents saying there was a shortfall of analytical skills within their organisations.

More than a third of HR leaders said competitiveness, the ability to attract talent and candidate experience would all suffer as a result of this failure to optimise their use of data.

Geoff Smith, executive director of Capita Resourcing, said that with greater insight of its employees and candidates, HR could improve not only recruitment but employee engagement and retention (through better cultural fit of hires), workforce diversity and business agility. “Effective use of data and insight, when combined with innovative digitisation, can completely transform talent acquisition,” he said.

He told Personnel Today how data was already enhancing recruitment, attracting passive and hidden talent that traditional recruitment methods could not reach. “One company discarded ‘bread and butter’ recruitment strategies when looking for specialist data analysts by setting a number of challenges on a popular analytics platform.

“People would solve each analytical teaser and from the skills used by participants the company would hire the individual that possessed the appropriate attributes. This unique way of proactively targeting and engaging with a specialist talent pool and using data to identify people with the right skills meant the company employed candidates that would not have been invited to an interview from their CV, but were the right fit for the role and added the skills and value they needed.

Smith added that data derived about culture and roles from the workforce itself could help HR attract and retain talent. He said: “One organisation improved employee satisfaction and in-turn became an employer of choice through the use of badges that capture employee conversations and measure against length of conversation, tone of voice, number of interruptions etc.

“From this they found that people who took breaks together were less stressed and happier at work. Rolling out this policy led to a 23% increase in performance. Data can help to proactively identify and attract talent while also ensuring you don’t lose what you currently hold.”

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