Recruitment & Retention Opinion

Making Decisions: Gut Feel or Workforce Analytics?

By Emily Douglas-McNab — August 31, 2012 1 min read
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A few weeks back, a tweet from @BigThink caught my eye. In 140 characters, they summed up how organizations are utilizing big data to create a stronger workforce. The post linked to a video of Haig Nalbantian, a Senior Partner at Mercer and well-known authority on Human Capital Measurement and Management, discussing the use of workforce analytics.

Deloitte, one of the largest consulting organizations in the world, notes that, “workforce analytics involves using statistical models that integrate internal and external data to predict future workforce and talent-related behavior and events. These models help companies focus limited resources on critical talent decisions.”

What is driving organizations to use workforce analytics? Three big reasons.

1. Data, Data Everywhere: In nearly every aspect of our lives, whether we realize it or not, our decisions and actions are being captured and recorded. Grocery stores send you coupons based on your purchasing history. Your iPhone tags pictures with latitudinal and longitudinal data. Facebook references your search history on the internet to personalize ads on your page. Cellular providers have the ability to share with your insurance company the speed you were driving using your phone’s GPS. And, this only scrapes the surface. Storing, managing, and examining massive amounts of data has become cheaper and much less complex due to advancements in technology and increased demand and usage.
2. Expectations: Leaders who don’t use data to drive decisions are not likely to be around long. It’s simple. Leaders in the 21st century are expected to be data-savvy.
3. Focus on Performance and Continuous Improvement: No if’s, and’s, or but’s... organizations expect results. They define, measure, analyze, improve, and control processes with the goal of maximizing performance.

I encourage all K-12 talent managers to watch the video of Mr. Nalbantian. He discusses using data in human resources and human capital management. The following comments in particular stuck out to me.

I think everyone now speaks and understands that human capital is indeed an asset, not just in name, not just as a throwaway line you put in an annual report, but in fact it's a critical asset to the organization...
I think organizations also are much more savvy about data. We're living in this era of big data. Everywhere you look you see organizations tapping big data to make more informed decisions. You see it in baseball, where cyber metrics was a little small cadre of people doing it 20 years ago. Now it's the norm. The decisions about who you acquire and what players you bring together are no longer based just on the gut feel of some coach or the scouts. Yeah, their judgment still matters, but they are strongly reinforced by hard data that is predictive in nature, that says, "Well, people with these characteristics and who have these metrics are likely to be successful and help you be successful."
...What's happened in the last five years, the surge of interest in workforce analytics, the surge in technologies that are products around workforce analytics, dashboards, human capital scorecards, and the like, are all reflecting this increased awareness that you can't lead this major investment decision to gut feel, intuition, what the other people are doing, whether they are competitors or 'best practice companies.' You can't leave it even to the philosophy of your CEO."

Share your thoughts about the video as well as the challenges and opportunities you see in using data to drive decisions in school districts.

The opinions expressed in K-12 Talent Manager are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.