Stop It, HR

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Author: Tracey Smith | Source: HCI | Published: June 16, 2015

In my last blog, 5 Reasons Not to Get Started in HR Analytics, I referenced that HR frequently responds that it is too busy doing other things to get started in analytics. In fact, HR is too busy to make much progress on anything that may shift itself away from being tactical and into a more strategic position. Sure, everyone talks about it but when it comes to putting that desire into action, very few teams manage to move ahead.

I am a math geek and also an engineer. I spent my years in engineering, supply chain and HR. When I compare these functions, what I see is a great need for engineers like me to bring our continuous improvement skills to HR. Only then, can HR free up enough time and resources to speed the shift from tactical to strategic. Your internal customers are waiting for more value from HR. If you keep them waiting, they are likely to move activities out of HR’s control.

When an HR team tells me they are too busy for a strategic initiative, my first thought is “and you always will be.” This strongly indicates to me a great need to evaluate where people are spending their time and whether that time is being spent wisely? A few questions to get you started. (This works in any functional area, not just HR).

  1. Where did you spend your time last week? Were the activities tactical or strategic?
  2. What can you (and HR) stop doing today and not impact the business substantially?

For those reading this saying “yes, we know this already,” let me make this real for you with a specific example. While working for a large company, I did some information gathering on reports HR was generating. The information I requested was:

  • The name of the report.
  • To whom was it sent?
  • What decisions were being made with the report?

After only 50% of managers responded to my request (because they are too busy, ironically), I had already compiled a list of over 300 reports. Can you imagine what it was costing the company to create these reports? What I noticed was this:

The audience of the report was often a mailing list name. HR did not usually know who was behind the mailing list. Most of these lists had existed for 5-20 years so the people behind them may not even work for the company any more.
Not a single HR person could tell me what decisions were being made with their reports.

So, what do you do with this information? Those who know me well, already know the answer. You slowly “turn off” the production of these reports a few at a time and see who screams. If no-one screams within four weeks, you no longer produce that report. This is a business and we’re wasting the company’s money if we spend it on unnecessary activities. Spending money wisely is every employee’s responsibility.

So HR, what will you stop doing today?

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Tracey is one of the “Top 50 Global Influencers in HR Analytics” and presents at conferences in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., primarily on the topics of analytics, continuous improvement and Strategic Workforce Planning. She holds degrees in Mathematics, Engineering and Business and has over 25 years of experience in the areas of Human Resources, Supply Chain and Engineering.

You can find Tracey on the web at:

Web Site: www.numericalinsights.com
Magazine: “NI Magazine: Numerical Insights for HR”
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/numericalinsights
LinkedIn Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Numerical-Insights-LLC-8176381
Twitter: @ninsights