We’re Taking the Plunge and Hiring an Analytics Leader

You might have seen my comment on Raghav Singh’s article about Monster’s fall. I said: “The better companies get at analyzing and using data effectively to drive business decisions (in this case, where to invest recruitment marketing dollars and focus their sourcing and candidate engagement strategies), the more important it will be for technology and online solutions to provide current and meaningful data.”

Add to that comment the fact that the Internet offers a wealth of data related to user behaviors, interests, backgrounds and experience, data analytics is now becoming an essential functional area within HR and recruiting.

So, we’re putting our money where out mouth is.

This week we hired an HR analytics leader. This was hardly questioned by our business leaders, which was much different 15 years ago when I hired a business analyst in our talent acquisition function for another company. “Why do you need a business analyst?” was a common question by our leaders.

Honestly, it was a good question. The data we had at that time was marginal due to inconsistent process execution, limited systems, and most of all, a lack of understanding by both recruiting and HR (let alone our other business leaders), as to the power and potential that good data could have in driving more effective people decisions.

Times have changed. Our leaders are much more accepting of our data, and in many cases are actually starting to pull on us for information around our people to help them make better decisions. It helps that our culture here at Hearth & Home Technologies is above all else, an operations culture. Lean manufacturing is living and breathing here. To be taken seriously, HR has had to come to the table with effective process, good data, and metrics that matter to the business.

One example of this for recruiting is on our delivery metric. Many organizations track and report their delivery performance as time to fill. Instead, using a metric our lean manufacturing environment understands, we report on complete to lead time promise (CTLP). We set a date for delivery of a person starting on their first day. We then track the percentage of time we hit that promise date. Tracking the time it takes within the various sub-process steps also allows us to identify problems or opportunities to improve our recruiting process and delivery results.  Our leaders love this use of data, and our ability to speak their language.

Our experience here is similar to many HR and recruiting organizations across the globe. However, we are just scratching the surface on effective use of data, and our practice of data analytics. With improved systems, better recruiting practices, and all the data available on the Internet, the opportunity to add strategic value by driving better people decisions through data is greater than ever. Becoming data analytics savvy is becoming a requirement of all HR organizations.

The Internet alone provides great insight into candidate behaviors. Just as our marketing department tracks the buying behaviors of our customers through the use of Google Analytics, we are starting to do the same of our candidates (our customers!) to understand how they shop for jobs, research company cultures and current employees, and engage with job influencers online. More and more, recruiting organizations are starting to think of themselves as sales and marketing functions. Some of the tools recruiters use are being adopted from general consumer marketing (see MyAlerts) to help track, drive, and engage with potential candidates. Recruiters can now track which of these tools are resulting in the greatest return on investment, leading to the best cost, speed and quality of candidate.

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Yet, the use of data analytics for HR and recruiting is still in its infancy. The Sierra-Cedar 2015-2016  HR Systems Survey (led by Stacy Harris, VP Research and Analytics) finds that the most popular tool used for business intelligence and HR Analytics is still Excel (98 percent of those surveyed), as opposed to 48 percent using a platform BI solution (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc.).  However, embedded analytics solutions (those built within your ATS, for example) have doubled in adoption this past year to 43 percent. This trend does not look to be slowing any time soon. Have you started using your analytics tools offered in your ATS? If not, it’s time to start looking into it.

These are exciting times for those of us who like data, and are starting to see how information that we can provide our business leaders is starting to impact business results. So our new HR analytics leader, Hariny, will find an appreciative home here, and will have a real opportunity to have an impact. I can’t wait to get her help on refining how we capture and analyze the data we need to make better recruiting strategy decisions. In the meantime, our recruiting vendors continue to improve their analytics tools, and provide more solutions. Our decisions on what systems we work with in the future will depend on the value they add in the analytics space. I’m just glad we have someone on board now that can keep this topic in focus. Now, where to start …

Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis has spent over 20 years as a talent acquisition leader, focused on creating and delivering innovative employer branding and recruiting solutions for companies that include NCR Corp., U.S. Bank, and Deluxe Corporation. He is currently the director of talent acquisition at Hearth & Home Technologies and is adjunct faculty at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota teaching Human Resource Information Systems.