The application of data science has transformed almost every industry, and HR - while perhaps late to the game - is no exception. HR analytics has progressed rapidly from a potential management fad to a core competency.

However, despite the myriad benefits of a data-driven approach, many businesses haven’t yet implemented successful analytics into their people strategy. Common misconceptions are partly to blame.

We’ve debunked the 6 most pervasive myths so you can build an analytics strategy that achieves tangible results.


Myth #1: Data scientists should lead your analytics projects

Analytics is valuable only when closely tied to business objectives and outcomes. Data scientists might be the best people to perform the technical side, but the process should be directed by business leaders who have a clear idea of what they’re hoping to discover and achieve.

Remember, analytics is more science than art: don’t advocate analytics for analytics’ sake.


Myth #2: Quantity beats quality, relevancy or insight

Don’t let the headlines salivating over ‘big data’ fool you. You don’t need a massive workforce or years of data. What you choose to measure, the accuracy with which you measure it and the insights you draw from your findings are all far more important than the size of your data set.


Myth #3: Extensive preparation is better than diving in

Research and planning are important and should be an integral part of the process, but when possible, it’s better to learn by doing. The belief that your team or business ‘isn’t quite ready’ for analytics is holding you back from gaining the crucial first insights that will inform and transform your long-term analytics strategy.

Resolve to learn on the way: you might have a bumpy start, but you’ll get there earlier and wiser than if you’d dallied at the starting line.


Myth #4: You need new or complex sources of data to get started

Analytics can begin with easily available metrics, such as payroll data, turnover, and labour market statistics reports. Simple surveys can get you started on issues like employee engagement and satisfaction.


Myth #5: You need full-time analytics professionals on your team

It’s generally unrealistic to expect your current HR team to take full responsibility for an extensive, unfamiliar and perhaps unsuited task on top of their current workload. However, there are a multitude of ways to access analytics ability without hiring full-time data scientists.

The gig economy we’ve heard so much about provides one solution: part-time specialists on call for regular work or specific projects. Analytics technology provides another: companies such as Hi Bob and Visier do some of the heavy lifting for you, making introducing analytics to your existing team more manageable.


Myth #6: Human instincts are more reliable than data

In the face of the long-predicted AI revolution, it’s both tempting and comforting to believe that there are some talents machines can’t replicate. Gut instinct is one of them: surely this essential human trait, honed by years of experience (a pretty big data set), can’t be beaten by a few facts and figures?

Avoid this attitude if you want to make the most of analytics. Gut instinct can be a valuable tool, but if your intuitions contradict the evidence, they’re most likely based on incorrect assumptions. Don’t let pro-human bias steer you away from concrete facts.

Instead, use your instinct where it’s most useful: turning evidence into insight. Theorise potential reasons for the data you’re getting, then work out how analytics can help you prove or disprove your theory.


Ultimately, analytics isn’t about taking the human out of HR. It’s about giving HR superhuman powers: to see patterns and trends that we’d otherwise overlook. And who doesn’t want their HR team to be the Avengers?


Find out more about how flexible online CIPD qualifications will prepare your HR team to take on any challenge.

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