I was attending a conference recently where the speaker was talking about operational reporting. According to him, operational reporting is like good hygiene—everybody expects it, but nobody pays much attention to it. I’m proud to say I’ve been working at L’Oréal for 20 years and spent about 18 years within the Human Resources Information Services group, focusing on operational reporting. I can relate to the analogy above because although many companies do operational reporting well, there is a huge opportunity to leverage data to add more business value. We have been running PeopleSoft as our HRMS tool and use Business Objects for operational report writing, which has been a mainstay for us.
While we provide the HR function with excellent operational reporting, we realized that we needed to dive deeper into our existing data rather than using it solely for operational purposes. True business value is achieved by transforming analytical numbers into actionable data/insights. We wanted to do just that. A critical question for us is: ‘How do we become more of a business partner and show value from the wealth of data we have available. ‘Our data is well audited and we should be taking advantage of this effort by moving to the next level. I received the opportunity to voice this further by reaching out to Caroline Flandrin, the Senior Vice President of People Innovation for L’Oréal USA, who initiated a new taskforce on how we can use big data to take advantage of data-driven ideas in the areas such as engagement, career advancement, benefits, and ways to achieve a positive corporate culture with focus on our most important asset: our employees. I galvanized a group of highly engaged HR professionals, who I consider experts within the HR function and the People Analytics Innovation taskforce – the PAI Squad – was formed. We start our meetings with brainstorms about initiatives in using a more analytical approach to streamlining data and getting direct business value from it. A year later, we’re refining our ideas and learning ‘how to turn the available human capital data we have into a business value for the decision makers at L'Oréal.’
The Journey to Obtain Business Value
The PAI Squad worked with our Finance function to assist with the development of a concept around predictive analytics to help us with analysis on a retention project. The challenge and missing link in HR was having the technical resources to do the analysis needed. To solve this, we turned to academia and partnered with Wharton and Stevens Institute of Technology- who has a well-respected people analytics and business intelligence program- to shed insights on the experience. Their expertise and learnings are now helping our team gain a better understanding of how to best structure HR to be most effective in performing analysis on our data.
“The HR function needs to take advantage of their employee data through the use of new technologies and advanced analytics to become a better business partner for their organizations. The facts are mounting that by providing enhanced HR analytics to your business managers, leads to stronger organizational performance. It’s an exciting journey that we’re on to become a data-driven function and to obtain better insights out of our data.”
Data Holds the Key
Industry-wide, Human Resources departments face the challenge of retention and engagement of employees. Both retention and engagement play an important role for an HR department and performing quantitative and qualitative analysis is a ‘must have’ process for them. Providing analytics around tracking and assessing employee engagement is challenging, as it can be viewed as more of an emotional response for employees. Conducting a survey and rating employee engagement isn’t enough, we have to find better, more innovative ways to track and gain insight from this.
L’Oréal runs a number of task forces and does an excellent job of getting employees involved in initiatives to input their views on “How L’Oréal USA can provide a more collaborative, employee centric, and engaging workplace for its employees.” We’re lucky to have the support from our Chief Human Resources Officer who strongly believes that HR needs to take advantage of using analytics in order to encourage better people decisions. The squad is also looking at organization network analysis as a future potential way of measuring engagement based on connectivity and communication that employees have and look at instances where you can break that down to the department and team levels.
Technology and HR Must Go Hand-in-hand
There is an increasingly large list of technology vendors in the HR market now and it is exciting to see technology driving a change in our function. Human Resources must become more analytical. It is a combination of considering and understanding new technology and ensuring that it can provide HR with the ability to provide business value and competitive advantages for your organization.