In a business climate that allows for generating and analyzing huge amounts of data, human resources departments have more information about employees than ever. But what do they gain from having such information, and how can they put it to work?


It’s a challenge throughout the business world, according to Aon Hewitt’s recent whitepaper, “An Analytics Lifestyle: Building HR’s Way of Life around Data.” “The pressure on HR is increasing, and the C-suite wants to make decisions on talent programs and investments based on facts and not HR’s ’hunch’ or ’intuition,’” according to the whitepaper. “Human resource leaders are also striving to create a niche for the HR function as a core part of the business strategy. So the question is, “Can we reorganize the HR portfolio and make investment decisions based on data?”


The answer is yes. Here’s how:


The first step: analyze the metrics needed, based on your business’ needs. Then, compare it to the data currently collected, and see how they align. This can help HR departments make key adjustments and create a strategy to use as a baseline. Then, figure out whether you have the right tools for the job, writes Janine Milne on “HR software, while important, is a tool to facilitate change, not a solution in itself,” she writes. “Make sure that your HR philosophy, business alignment, and program strategies are clear and focused first – then use technology to achieve those goals.”


If going through this process for the entire company is too daunting, start with your most important areas first. “HR should build and deliver talent insights on talent groups that disproportionately drive business results, such as analysts focused on emerging markets or emerging products, professionals with hot IT skills, network engineers, and sales leaders,” according to Aon Hewitt’s whitepaper.


As you proceed, pull in other data experts from around your company, if they exist, Milne writes. “True value from analytics will only happen by pulling together all the different analytic teams organizations may have in recruitment, learning or leadership to create a more holistic analytics team,” she writes.


The ultimate goal – to transition into a team that can not only measure, but predict, performance to keep the business’ leaders informed, Lynda Zugec writes for “As HR technologies become more sophisticated, HR metrics will become more readily available,” she writes. “Understanding what the numbers mean and translating them for varied audiences will become a required skill. Business goals will link directly to workforce strategies and the ability to obtain quality data will be of utmost importance.”