Classified Post HR Conference 2016: How data is transforming the HR function

Author: Liana Cafolla | Date: 6 Jul 2016

Data is increasingly being used to understand how global trends will affect organisation’s people agendas, delegates hear at Hong Kong conference

Future revolutions in HR are being driven by technology and data, Susie Quirk, partner and head of people and change advisory at KPMG China, told delegates at the Classified Post HR Conference 2016 last month.
 
Quirk sees several megatrends taking shape globally that have implications regionally and locally, including skills shortages. “By 2020, people will likely have had 13 or 14 jobs by the time they reach the age of 38,” she said, predicting this will have huge implications for talent management.
 
Other megatrends include rising workforce agility – with employees expecting to be able to work anywhere and anytime – and cloud computing, which is shaping the way people work by connecting services to people, and changing the function and set up of the workplace.
 
Data is increasingly being seen as a way to understand how these changes will affect individual companies, and how they can best respond to these challenges. A number of organisations in Asia are hiring people to set up data analytics teams – and this requires a response from HR, said Quirk.
 
HR will need to think differently and more creatively, she added. “HR needs to ask: ‘How can I use data to provide the answers and the results my business is looking for around the people agenda?’”
 
Using data well is a great opportunity for the sector to increase its relevance for the organisation, believes Quirk. It can be used to identify and pre-empt problems. For instance, data can help identify employees who are most at risk of leaving an organisation, with that information then used to build a profile that can predict other departures. “You can then target some really good employee value propositions to them,” said Quirk.
 
Data can also help companies identify the type of recruits that best fit their customer base. Quirk spoke of one sales company whose data analysis led to the surprise finding that part-time mothers had better sales results than newly qualified graduates because they shared the same concerns and profile as many of the target customers.
 
She recommended that HR professionals consider a number of issues when evaluating data, including: how does HR contribute to the organisation’s overall success? Which employee benefits programme drives higher retention rates? And which roles are most critical to the organisation’s success?
 
In a data-driven environment, HR needs to be more analytical and gather more data than ever before. The industry then needs to use its creative talents to build a narrative around the findings. “Be a storyteller,” says Quirk. “Provide a story around what’s happening with people in the organisation.”