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Business Partners & People Analytics

The future profile of HR BPs after Digitalisation

Do HR BPs have to transform into analytical nerds?

The daily life of HR Business Partners (BP’s), in one way or another, is already impacted by People Analytics. But is it essential to become data analysts working with regression analysis and stochastic methods?

It cannot be disputed that data-driven decision making is now a standard in all areas of an organization, and if HR considers itself the exception, it risks becoming obsolete. What does this mean in practice? How will the HR function perform in this new world?

Based on our annual analysis of more than 1500 company units worldwide, we have identified the success criteria for BP’s in a digital world. The good news is that it’s a lot less alarming than you might initially think.

Without a doubt, BP’s must embrace the digital world, but few have done so yet. Adding measurable value by conducting eye-level conversations with line management, based on data-driven insights, requires new skills as well as a certain level of confidence to apply them, but without the need to turn into data scientists.

In a successful setup, there will be workforce analytics specialists who processes all the data concerning people management. A well-designed dashboard delivers metrics, target ranges, and business cases (putting a price tag on deviations from the target range). BP’s will not have to perform complicated calculations based on raw data.

HOWEVER: BP’s will have to be able to read and understand the results, make decisions of where to dig deeper, decide what to present, as well as how to share the findings with line management. BP’s will have to prioritize where to act, what to do based on an understanding of the business value and impact behind process results, deviations from targets and changes.

Educating BPs in People Analytics

Based on our research, we have built three 1-day modules to prepare BP’s for the new way of working:

Module A will enable and encourage BP’s to gain relevant and applicable insights from the HR system and Dashboard. They can then draw the right conclusions, leveraging the company’s investment. Additionally, we discuss the tips and tricks that help BP’s work with HR data as a useful tool instead of a frightening black box.

Many companies have made significant investments in HR systems – and some even have set up dashboards. An excellent start for BP’s – now the real value lies in actually working with it (instead of avoiding it and hoping the managers do the same).

HR BPs must be able to identify the most relevant business issues based on the dashboard results. How do I interpret essential metrics? Where do I need to dig deeper even if high-level metrics suggest everything is okay? Where is a trend that needs addressing? How can I combine several metrics to identify relevant patterns? How do I need to phrase my deep-dive request to the data people to get meaningful additional insights

Module B kills the myth that people topics can’t be quantified, introduces the Business Case Calculator®, and prepares the Business Partner for any conversation with management about the financial impact of HR metrics.

It used to be easy for line managers to stop an initiative from HR by simply asking, “show me the money.” In reality, it’s not rocket science to quantify the financial side of an off-target HR metric (e.g., new hires with exceptionally high salaries due to generous managers) or arguing why managers should change their behavior in certain areas (e.g. setting goals for employees early in the year). In much the same way that other functions such as R&D or Finance work with simplified approaches and assumptions to calculate business cases, HR can do that as well. In most cases, it can be done on a napkin – but we also introduce participants to a simple tool that does the number crunching for them. 

Module C will enable participants to bring management on board for proposed initiatives based on data-driven and visually supported stories.

Insights from the Dashboard can only be converted into business impact when managers actually take action. With so much pressure on managers already – how can you capture their interest and create ownership? How do you credibly answer critical questions? The answer lies in clear and convincing stories, told with confidence and directly linked to financial impact using business cases. Stories must be supported by visualizations – not ones that showcase the most extravagant graph types but preferably ones that highlight findings and engage the audience. As a result, HR BPs and managers agree on joint action that drives relevant results for the business.

What’s in for you?

Reasons for upskilling Business Partners with our modules

  • Condensed relevant content: Even if motivated to learn about digital HR, your team can spend thousands of hours clicking through websites and buzzword loaded YouTube videos and webinars without achieving any new skills, enhancing their confidence or their ability to make an impact. Our three modules are based on what clients have evaluated highly in years of conducting research. 21st century HR, in a nutshell.
  • Effective format: Migrating HR’s people expertise into the digital age is not just an intellectual step but requires a change in approach and, in some cases, stepping out of individuals’ comfort zone. The three face-to-face modules delivered by experienced practitioners leverage the personal presence and peer-learning. They provide insights as well as engaging and interactive motivation.
  • Future proof team: Data-driven HR is here to stay – and the chances are, you don’t want to (and can’t) completely replace your HR team. Therefore, leveraging and upskilling the current team is the best way to be future proof. The three modules described above equip your existing team with the knowledge and the confidence to perform in the new data-driven world – without confusing and frustrating them with fuzzy buzzwords and unnecessary details.
  • Define your (HR’s) turf in the data-driven world: HR is not necessarily the first thing you think of regarding digital leadership in the organisation. Having a team that showcases the power of data-driven people management in everyday practice stops any questions, at C- level, about HR’s relevance.
  • Define expectations and the way forward: many seasoned HR professionals are torn between the panic that they will never master data-related skills and the hope that it will somehow bypass them. Neither option provides a solid foundation for a high performing HR team to combine forces with new digital-savvy colleagues. Our three modules offer an essential introduction to what your team needs to know about data-driven HR.