how to get started with HR Analytics

In the pursuit of becoming a strategic rather than administrative function, HR departments are realising the importance of breaking away from manual data processes, and are beginning to embrace analytics as a more efficient way of working.

The issue is, with all of the complex buzzwords out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Moreover, despite the headaches that spreadsheet-driven processes can bring, it’s hard to drop the “it’s how we’ve always done things” mantra and step outside of your comfort zone.

So how do you overcome the challenges that hold you back, and finally get started with HR Analytics?

Form a plan

Initially, you don’t need the entire company behind you – all it takes is one person with an initiative to get the ball rolling. Ask yourself:

  • What are you currently doing?
  • How long is it taking?
  • What are you actually getting out of it?
  • Why are you measuring what you’re measuring?
  • How could it be better?
  • What additional data do you need to get powerful insights?
  • What impact could this have on the business?

Write it all down and put a business case together. Remember, people are your organisation’s biggest cost and asset, and it’s in your best interest to use your data effectively.

Start small

If like the majority of companies, you don’t have a data scientist at your beck and call, you’re going to need to start with the basics. Do something powerful to back up your business case. You could automate your spreadsheets, build a simple dashboard in Excel, collate some data from around the business or produce some simple visualisations for the next board report. You just need to prove that you can make your business case work.

Spread the word

Once you’ve completed your first analytics mission, you’ll want to present this along with your results to your manager, director or CEO. Think about organising a breakfast meeting to talk them through everything, and if the business benefits are there, they will listen.

Embrace ugly data

You’re going to have to approach this warts and all. If you have lots of missing and inaccurate data, this is one of the first things you’ll need to tackle to get any meaningful results. Look at where your data is coming from and put processes in place to overcome this. If there’s little data collaboration between departments, rest assured that you’re not alone. It’s possible to fix this, but first you’ll need to identify the exact business benefits and return on investment to get buy in. If the huge amount of data cleansing is what you’re struggling with, there are tools and services available to help with this.

Choose technology carefully

Business problems aren’t solved by technology alone, but powerful software will certainly help to make your business objectives a reality and save you time in the process. Don’t go straight to a technology vendor with one product which might not be right for you, instead, consider your options. Work with someone who understands your business pain-points, strategy and analytics maturity and can recommend a software that’s the best fit for you.


Interested in HR analytics? We recommend you Mission Critical HR Analytics Forum 2019.

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Laura Timms is Product Strategy Manager at MHR Analytics and a keen ‘data maturity’ advocate, supporting organisations to advance their data journey. Laura has managed research and strategy for business intelligence and data analytics products for the past three years and is at the forefront of industry developments. Laura is a certified Product Manager, responsible for driving the product strategy and go-to-market processes at MHR Analytics. She is a regular speaker on the topic of AI and data maturity.