Data providing more HR insight, driving success

Workforce information is becoming easier to use and is being deployed as a powerful tool to help organisations improve and thrive, according to Deloitte research.

“Human Capital Trends 2012,” based on interviews with clients, vendor partners, academics, analysts and more than 50 Deloitte practitioners, identified eight significant trends giving human resources the potential to improve business value.

One of the trends was called “seeing around corners”, and focused on the ability of data to provide insights that will drive success.

“We actually have data that in the past perhaps we never had the ability to even collect,” Michael Gretczko, a principal in Deloitte’s human capital practice, said Tuesday during a webinar on HR trends. “We’ve now got it. We’ve also got the ability through some of the advancements in cloud technology and ERP (enterprise resource planning) technology to actually tap into that data and do it in a way that’s not onerously expensive.”

That information is allowing organisations to more effectively manage their workforce to control labour costs, Deloitte says.

Gretczko said companies are using customer relationship management data to more effectively schedule workers for peak hours.

Companies also are using predictive modelling to improve strategies for their workforce. An example, Gretczko said, is identifying a certain time in their careers when people are leaving the company and structuring an incentive such as tuition repayment programmes to slow the departure of top talent.

Some organisations also are combining human resources data with information from other parts of the business and external sources to develop strategies. An example is using housing starts data to forecast where future talent may be available in a market aligned with a company’s specific skills, Gretczko said.

According to Gretczko, data are helping businesses:

  • Understand the relationship between compensation and retention. “Common sense says they’re related,” Gretczko said. “But how much is enough to retain? How much is not enough?”

  • Measure the effectiveness of diversity programmes. “How do we quantify them to make sure they have a true business impact and have the facts to prove that and make sure that programmes continue to get funded in the face of changing budgets?” Gretczko said.

The growing use of business analytics has been driven in part by the increasing popularity of cloud computing. Gretczko said that historically, the investments in hardware and software necessary to use business analytics limited organisations’ ability to work with them. He said cloud computing helps make business analytics easier to implement, and  some early concerns about cloud computing’s privacy and security are abating.

Ken Tysiac ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.