HR Data Analytics – Case Use by HR Organziations

© Ogerepus - Fotolia
© Ogerepus – Fotolia

The Chapman Consulting Group just completed their Spring HR leaders meeting in Beijing on May 15.  This time Lenovo hosted the session at their Beijing headquarter office.

The topic for this round is centered around Managing Global HR in the age of ‘Big Data’.

  • What companies are doing to optimise talent and HR systems in parallel with the advent of global and regional Centres of Excellence;
  • The increased use of data and analytics as another tool of Global HR management; and
  • The effect this is having on the type of HR Leader progressing within the profession.

This theme is consistent with their #1 trending HR focus areas for 2014.

I have captured key points from the meeting below.


Lenovo – Shared Services

Lenovo, the world’s leader in the PC industry, had just implemented a global HR system, making the switch by eliminating several disparate systems into a global solution.   While they have done all the requisite change management requirements with organisation stakeholders, they are seeing that people still like to do things the “old way.”  How true!  People hate to change.

While Lenovo made a clear stand that all everyone need to adopt and utilise the new system they do have a VIP process for their top key executives.  The VIP allows for telephone hotline and/or email communication to a HR professional for assistance.  However, everyone else is expected to utilise the new self-service model.

The benefit of going global with their new HR system is now they have the ability to manage their workforce under one roof.  Previously, HR was unable to access “real time” data and instead, was managing people with spreadsheets.


Pfizer – Improving Retention

Employee retention is a huge risk in the pharmaseutical industry in China.  Industry average is around 25-30% turn-over each year.

Pfizer is the global largest pharmaceutical player and is also the largest in China.  Even Pfizer is not immune to the high turnover rate.  In fact, competitor companies target their employees, because they are the largest.

To combat turnover and improve retention they turned to “big data” to better understand drivers of turnover – they created an employee profile of turn-over drivers.  The profile Pfizer developed is employee specific with a “risk score.”

Pfizer partnered with a consulting company to develop the analysis tool combining existing employee data and against employees who left the company.  By looking at former employee profiles they then were able to map those to existing employee enabling Pfizer to see trending issues that may cause turnover.  Seeing this information ahead of time allows HR to partner with BU leads to take proactive actionable steps.

Some examples of high risk dimension include:  employees where are a rehire (they have already left once), short-time with a manager (have not developed a strong bonding with the direct manager), and long tenure in a role (it’s time to refresh with a new focus).  I was thinking these are all indicators of high risk turnover by itself.  So, why do you need to do a study?  The genius is that employee turnover is multi-dimension.  Not one thing by itself are drivers of turn-over but, by combining all the various turnover drivers and employee profile, you begin to see a multifaceted profile of their employees – HR and BU can then take multiple tracks to drive retention.


Qualcomm* – Use a Data Analytics 

Qualcomm has a dedicated data analytics team.  That team started in 2008 and was a small group who was responsible for generating large HR data but, on spreadsheet format.  Over the years, Analytics Team went on to focus on benchmarking to creating data visualisation and now focusing on predictive modelling for the company.

Qualcomm human resources has the ability to pull up dashboard data an a click of a button.  This is information is globally accurate and with the ability to do drill downs by organisation, business function, geography and employee types etc.  This enables Qualcomm HR, at all levels – HRVP to HR specialist, to have the same data points, at any time.

The analytics team also conducts research projects analysing the success of a merger and acquisitions project.  The team created a social network analysis / model indicating the strength on network and social ties.  In a M&A, one would typically want to see the newly acquired company integrate into the overall company.  The faster employees integrate the greater the success outcome.  Creating such a model allows Qualcomm to analyse and visualise social interactions to gain insight on who were the “bridge builders,” those who were the best at helping with integrating after a merger.


Doosan – Don’t Over Do It With Data

Doosan is a Korean-based conglomerate.  The HRVP reminded us that sometimes over use of data can be detrimental to business decision.  Instead of using judgement, managers often ask project analysts or HR for more data to help with their decision making.  With the data provided, business will ask for more next level data, to back up the high-level data.  Analyze the data, analyse more data, then the data paralyses you.  By the time the data is complete that the information is out of date and decision window is closed.  How often have we faced this before?  The presenter was so right on with this point.

In HR, we also have metrics and data to measure our performance.  The roundtable participants all have HR KPI scores they manage to.  One hotelier HR said that after a HR systems implementation that their HR satisfaction scores dropped.  I thought that after any large project implementation that one would expect a drop (remember that people hate changes).  Instead of managing to the dropped score HR should be managing to improving the score and maybe, that scoring criteria will be different from the prior standard but, the processes and systems have changed.

Doosan further explains that in a business downturn, for example, HR is expected to manage employee reductions.  So, what happens if HR is successful with meeting the employee reduction targets and morale KPIs are on track yet, the business continues to decline.  Doosan HR further suggests that we use experience and judgement to help the business.  Data is only one part of the story.


This wraps the summary of key points by each presenter.  The Chapman Consulting Group always does a good job with brining together a group of HR leaders from various industries for sharing and networking.


*I am employed by Qualcomm.  However, the information contained within is the opinion of the author and not that of my employer. All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. Furthermore, this blog post does not represent an endorsement of their products and services and I have woven my own experience in this post. This is for informational purposes only. There is no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information.
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