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Strategy in Human Resources

Strategy in Human Resources? Is that possible?

As time has passed, more and more departments inside organizations have become strategic and data-driven. When we think of departments like Finance and Operations, we can easily visualize those being strategic and highly analytical, but we don’t often think that way about HR.

Human Resources is one of the last departments to full leverage its data. Sure, we’ve all seen the reports on turnover and the company typically tried to address the localized areas where turnover is highest, but that’s about as far as it went. The problem is, most people in HR came up through the traditional HR jobs where they are aligned to addressing the policy needs of the company and the concerns of the employees. Typically these Human Resources employees do not come from analytical backgrounds.

Well, the Human Resources world has been changing. Several years back, I was provided an opportunity to join HR which was far away from my traditional mathematical modeling background but they were looking for someone to take a look at establishing global HR metrics and dashboards. Several months into the job, I saw that they didn’t fully realize what the world of data could do for them. What better way to teach them than from example.

Looking into their data systems for some” analytical entertainment”, I could see beyond the typical turnover data and could incorporate several other data variables into a model of the future workforce. In today’s language, this is hailed as Strategic Workforce Planning. So, what makes this strategic? Modeling the workforce allows us to run a variety of scenarios for the company’s future workforce to see what impact certain business strategy decisions would have. It allows us to forecast such items as recruitments needs, training needs, certain financial budget line items and retirement impacts. In short, it allows the company to make more intelligent decisions about its workforce future.

This is, of course, just one example of how Human Resources has become more strategic in recent years and how non-traditional backgrounds are becoming HR experts. Look to future posts for more examples of HR strategy.

Copyright © 2011 Tracey Smith

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