HRHeadStart #35: HR Analytics; Red Queen Hypothesis; Creating Conditions for Success
The Talent Agenda
If we often refer to people as human capital in organizations, then surely we need to have robust ways to measure, analyze and deploy this capital. Despite widespread recognition of HR analytics as a critical feature of how HR should operate, many HR teams are far from building and perfecting this capability. The journey towards HR analytics maturity looks somewhat like the following stages:
Level 1 “Operational Reporting”: At the most fundamental level, HR focuses on operational reporting and descriptive statistics. We report traditional metrics such as headcount, attrition, training costs/days, labour costs, employee survey data etc. - essentially the bare minimum.
Level 2 “Advanced Reporting”: At this level, the focus is on improving the value of the metrics through external benchmarking, historical trending and segmentation (metrics sliced by workforce segments that truly matter for the business). There’s also leverage on automating most dashboards and running targeted analytics based on business-defined problems.
Level 3: “Advanced Analytics”: At this level, HR data is combined with other relevant financial/operational/performance data to develop insights for better decision-making. The analytical sophistication increases with an emphasis on statistical modeling.
Level 4 “Predictive Analytics and Experiments”: This level is characterized by developing models to predict outcomes (e.g. attrition risks), develop projections (e.g. workforce demand/supply) and conduct controlled experiments (e.g. how does an intervention affect a control group vs an experimental group). Typically, at this level, HR analytics becomes a center of expertise in its own right.
Analytics is one of the most interesting spaces in HR and and an area ripe for change. Learn more about the HR analytics maturity model (plus an assessment to gauge where your organization is on the maturity curve) here.
In evolutionary biology, there is a hypothesis which proposes that organisms must constantly adapt, evolve, and proliferate not merely to gain reproductive advantage, but also simply to survive while pitted against ever-evolving opposing organisms in an ever-changing environment.
The idea comes from Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and is called the Red Queen Effect.
Alice never could quite make out, in thinking it over afterwards, how it was that they began: all she remembers is, that they were running hand in hand, and the Queen went so fast that it was all she could do to keep up with her: and still the Queen kept crying ‘Faster! Faster!’ but Alice felt she could not go faster, though she had not breath left to say so.
The most curious part of the thing was, that the trees and the other things round them never changed their places at all: however fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything. ‘I wonder if all the things move along with us?’ thought poor puzzled Alice. And the Red Queen seemed to guess her thoughts, for she cried, ‘Faster! Don’t try to talk!…If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!’
For students and young people entering the world of work around this time of the year - know that your career trajectory is disproportionately (even if unfair) set by these early years. The most successful people burn a great deal of energy in their 20s and 30s to set their path to relevance and influence. They accomplish a lot more in their 40s and 50s due to the velocity established in the early years. So, show up and don’t just do what you are asked to do, but what you are truly capable of doing. Run faster.
A Productive Workout
A workout is a great way to create mindspace for processing and learning new ideas. And it primes you for creative thinking. For your next walk, run or workout session, check out this fascinating Ted Talk by David Epstein, where he talks about making trade-offs between specializing early in life/careers and sampling different options between narrowing down the choice. He gives numerous examples of how people chart their paths to success and concludes that specializing too early might be short-sighted for the complex world we live in.
Whenever you see chaos, look harder for the opportunity.