A "light bulb" moment

I recently had a “lightbulb” moment. If I’m going to go any further in HR, I will have to learn more about technology.

Dear HRM Magazine Asia,

I have been in HR since graduating eight years ago, and recently had a “light bulb” moment. If I’m going to go any further in this field – possibly at a different, more modern organisation, I am going to have to learn a lot more about technology. Given that I’d be starting from scratch, can you suggest some first steps to being a more tech-savvy HR professional?

- Technologically-unsure

Jane Horan: Perfect timing for your light bulb moment. Tech will continue to significantly change the face of HR, so I’d highly recommend becoming a more tech-savvy HR professional. Most organisations now actively look for and develop HR data analytics capabilities. Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report found “while 71 % of companies see people analytics as a high priority in their organisations (31% rate it very important), progress has been slow”. Data and analytics are the top two areas for HR technology investments today.

You already know that data is more and more critical in forecasting talent, improving people decisions, and assessing what motivates employees. Think about the mountain of information from annual employee surveys. Mining such data allows organisations to move beyond engagement, to employee fulfillment and better performance. HR and business leaders are increasingly making people decisions based on data analysis rather than personal relationships or gut feeling. Given the rise of artificial intelligence and robotics, HR professionals must now be equipped with an understanding of analytics to target interventions which benefit the organisation. 

You can study on your own through online courses focusing on HR Analytics for Business Decisions. Any number of online providers: Coursera; Udemy; Edx; or Lynda.com, all offer courses in HR analytics. Start with the basics. Learn the framework of evidence-based management, then move into deeper analysis techniques from either more courses or studying with experts in the field to understand data interpretation. With such knowledge,engage your technology teams to see if there’s a way to collaborate on a joint project for HR.

Also, join a professional HR group that emphasises data science, digitalisation of HR, workforce analytics, and predictive analysis. This will build your strategic thinking in people analytics and put you in the forefront with your business partners, functional leaders and senior management.

Dr. Jane Horan is an expert in career transitions, unconscious bias and cross-cultural leadership. An internationally-recognised speaker, she is the author of "I Wish I’d Known That Earlier in My Career: The Power of Positive Workplace Politics", a business book used by corporate universities globally, and "How Asian Women Lead: Lessons for Global Corporations" to show new perspectives on leadership and careers, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

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