Can the use of analytics aid the functionality and decision making in an area of a business, like HR, that has been seen as being driven by human interaction and emotion?

Able Bridge Recruitment is an HR and Accountancy recruitment business. For a while I have felt that the two disciplines compliment each other and there are a lot of synergies in the work that both departments do in relation to the development, prosperity and health of a company.  Sometimes, however some of their functions are not utilised to their full potential (in my opinion)!

Perception is powerful and when you are a “back-office function”, you can often be viewed as a burden to the business.  Looking initially at the accounting function, I have lost count of the number of times I have heard unfriendly phrases like; “Bean counters” or “the obstacle to sales” or worse still “if it wasn’t for us, they wouldn’t have a job” – An attitude that I have rejected and tried to change with all of my teams over the years!  

Sometimes, the HR teams also experience negative attitudes. I have previously written about the HR team being undervalued and hugely underutilised.  Reasons for this, can be that the HR area of the business is associated with grievance and disciplinary and/or the safeguarding of a company in relation to recruitment activity.   

Ironically, both teams are there to protect the company, employee and save businesses from going down rabbit holes that will cost vast amounts of time and money!

In the 1990`s I remember working for a company where the finance team were there to provide accounts that presented profits or losses.  It was a function which presented the facts that were, in turn, interpreted by others.

As the 00`s progressed there was a move towards financial business partnering models.  This evolved into business support or decision support style accountants.  These were commercial employees, who had an accounting understanding and who could offer good insight into business trends.  The position was adapted relatively quickly as it looked at spend, return on investment and positioning to exploit changes in trading conditions. 

At the same time, human resources have evolved from a personnel function to being more involved in business operations.  Unfortunately, human resources departments have been seen as a support service that is there to react to situations and scenario`s rather than shape the business and look at ways to make commercial gains by using associated analysis that can be drawn out of human capital.

At the same time that the accountancy department has evolved, the human resources teams have done so in tandem, just in different ways and at a different pace.  The 90`s saw the function as personnel, involved in essence in processing necessary functions such as payroll.  This migrated into more HR and ‘well being’ support to a now heavily people focused agenda.  The difference between Accountancy is they seem to have evolved more rapidly in a commercial sense to HR.

With all the changes that have happened over the past twelve to eighteen months, I view the role of the human resources evolving more like that of the role of finance business partner.  With a huge amount of organisational change on the horizon and with remote working leading to a shift in company culture, I can see the use of analytics becoming more and more important in day-to-day HR activities.

There are many classic metrics that can be used in a business to calculate profitability.  Cost to manufacture, cost to deliver a service, customer order volume, distribution and supply chain overheads, efficiency, wastage etc etc.  How many companies have spent meaningful time however looking at absenteeism, time to hire, cost to hire, early turnover, engagement rating as well as many other analytic touch points? 

Looking at the evolution of different departments within a business, I think it is clear to see, this is an ongoing process and will involve more than just accountancy and HR.  However, with empathy and some scientific analysis, companies can operate in a hugely effective way with both Accountancy and HR being imbedded further into a business to drive efficiencies.  With an analytical approach to human resources, for the benefit of the whole company, will see the organisation as an effective, efficient and highly profitable business not to mention an employer of choice for future employees.    

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