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Tips for teaching HR Business Partners to be analytics savvy

To get HR business partners successfully involved in analytics there are a few “small” problems you need to overcome: 

  • HR business partners don’t have analytics skills
  • They don’t have the time to do analytics
  • They don’t have the support and mandate they need to be successful

Here’s what do:

 1. Make a distinction between advanced analytics and everyday analytics 

In my research on successful analytics projects, my biggest surprise was how often successful projects only used simple arithmetic and estimation. There is no need to teach HR business partners any statistics; just give them a workshop with some ‘everyday analytics’ case studies so they can see what it’s really all about and then give them a chance to practice the basic skills they need.

 2. Get the keeners to self-select for pilot programs 

Many HR business partners will find the idea of doing analytics daunting; they’ll say “I don’t have time.”  That’s fair enough, and let’s leave that group aside for the moment. Focus on finding just a few people keen on doing analytics and let them go for it.  At the end of a basic skills workshop ask people to identify projects they are currently involved in that would benefit from analytics. The people who have the clearest idea of where analytics are needed will be the keeners. These are the people you should use for some pilot programs.

3.  Provide coaching and support to the HRBPs running the pilots  

It is a major step forward when you’ve got a group of HRBPs running pilot programs to prove they can get value from everyday analytics. However, there are half-a-dozen things that can go wrong when HRBPs start trying to put everyday analytics to work.  For example, they may trip up over dirty data; they may make a mistake in how they present the findings to stakeholders, and they’ll almost certainly struggle with defining the problem with adequate clarity. As a senior HR leader, you should ensure they have access to mentors so that they have someone to talk to when they get stuck.

4.  Document and leverage these initial successes 

Each pilot should result in a two-page summary of the business issue and how it was addressed through HR analytics. This is a critical tool for HR leaders to prove to top management that HR is making good progress on analytics. It also becomes a great teaching (and motivational) tool for the other HRBPs who feared analytics was too hard or too time-consuming. Once you get a few good analytics wins documented, other successes will multiply.

HR is undergoing a slow revolution and we can expect that in the future HRBPs will be as comfortable with numbers as any other business function.  To get to that future, you’ve got to start now with realistic programs that will allow your existing HR team to get some wins.

** David Creelman is a globally recognized thought leader in analytics and evidence-based management.  Connect to him on LinkedIn or email him at **


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