In the current fast-paced, digitally-driven business landscape, how can emerging businesses lay a strong foundation for HR analytics? What are the key steps they must prioritise to successfully leverage data for business growth?
Dr. Kanupriya Manchanda, Vice President-People at InfoBeans shares her expert insights. She is a seasoned Human Resources expert, with an extensive background in the information technology sector and a doctorate in Employee Engagement. Over the course of her 15+ year journey at InfoBeans, Kanupriya has played an active role in weaving the culture fabric of the organization and has been instrumental in contributing to the growth of the InfoBeans team from 80 to over 1600 members. Notably, she achieved the distinction of becoming the youngest Vice President in the company under the age of 40, starting her career as a Recruiter. What sets this accomplished leader apart are two pivotal attributes: a staunch commitment to a data-driven mindset and an unwavering compassion for individuals. These qualities have not only shaped her trajectory but also served as cornerstones for her success.
In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Kanupriya shares her incredible insights on leveraging the potential of HR analytics, building a strong foundation for data analysis, how personalised strategies can drive employee engagement and more. Here are some key excerpts.
In the context of young organisations, how do you envision the role of HR analytics in shaping strategic decisions and driving growth?
Regarding HR analytics, especially in young organisations, it's all about the people and their skills. I believe there's nothing more valuable on the balance sheet than the skills within the organisation. HR analytics plays a crucial role in helping us identify and nurture that talent. From an HR perspective, my primary focus is on our people, but there's a specific group within the organisation that I pay even more attention to. Analytics helps me prioritise my initiatives by identifying these focus groups.
I see HR analytics as transformative. You can't improve what you can't measure, and analytics gives HR the power to analyse data. For example, in the realm of recruitment, we have metrics like the sources of hire, hires per recruiter, the number of interviews needed to fill a position, quality of hiring and even the ageing of the profiles we're considering. But what's truly valuable about analytics is that it enables us to not just look back but also to look forward. We can make decisions based on past and current trends and predict our future workforce needs.
This proactive approach is crucial, especially for young organisations. They often prioritise results and outcomes over exhaustive processes and tend to rely on gut feelings rather than data. Striking a balance is key. Even if we don't have a fully developed data analytics system, capturing essential data points can make a significant difference. Take something as straightforward as tracking employee absences and attendance. It can reveal patterns related to employee well-being, burnout rates, and workload distribution. This information is invaluable for workforce planning, and aligning staffing levels with our business goals.
For emerging businesses new to HR analytics, what initial steps do you recommend to establish a strong foundation for collecting and analysing workforce data?
First and foremost, I believe it's crucial for organisations, especially smaller ones, to embrace a data-driven mindset. As business leaders who value their people and as HR professionals who appreciate the human element, we should always have that softer side – empathy, and compassion towards our employees. However, it significantly strengthens our conversations when we can back it up with data. So, fostering that data mindset is a fundamental step.
When venturing into data analytics, it's crucial to define your goals. Start by asking yourself what specific goals you want to achieve. For instance, are you aiming to boost productivity, enhance retention, or improve time to hire?
Once you've established your goals, the next step is to identify the areas you want to focus on and the key metrics that will help you gauge progress. For instance, you might want to track metrics like time-to-fill for job openings or the conversion rate from offer to joiner.
The most significant challenge with data is not just collecting it, but also interpreting and synthesizing it into actionable information. Decide what information is crucial and how it should be organised. Remember, this isn't a one-time effort. It's an iterative process. Investing in technology, even with limited budgets is essential. Even a tool as simple as Google Sheets or a free Power BI dashboard can be a powerful starting point. Excel, too, is a robust tool that shouldn't be underestimated. It provides a solid foundation for data analysis and management.
How has HR analytics transformed your approach to talent acquisition? Can you share an example of where data insights led to successful hiring decisions?
Let me illustrate with a specific example. When COVID hit, it prompted us to scrutinise the source of hiring for the 500 individuals we onboarded that year. Surprisingly, I was allocating 15 lakh rupees annually to a technology tool, but only 10% of my hires were traced back to it. From a recruiter's standpoint, they viewed this tool as indispensable. However, upon closer inspection, I discovered that 40% of our hires were originating from our internal referral engine, spanning two years where resumes had not been updated.
In response, I made a strategic move. I reallocated a significant portion of that 15 lakh rupees, reducing it to five lakhs for the original tool and channelled the remaining ten lakhs into fortifying our referral engines. By incentivising referrals, we saw a notable uptick in our hiring success. This transition marked a shift away from depending solely on intuition to embracing data-driven decision-making, and the outcomes were self-evident.
Another noteworthy case study within our recruitment efforts centered on a challenge we encountered: the conversion of job offers into actual hires. Engaging candidates post-offer was a crucial focus, particularly in high-volume scenarios. It was data analytics that highlighted this bottleneck for us. Consequently, we formed the 'Candidate Success Group': a dedicated team outside the HR team that engages with candidates post-offer, addressing their queries and concerns. This intervention significantly improved our offer-to-joiner ratio.
In the realm of technology, data can be overwhelming, and it's easy to get lost in the deluge. It's a matter of being conscious about capturing this data and, crucially, knowing what and how to read it and utilise it effectively.
Employee engagement is crucial for organisational success. How do you utilise HR analytics to identify engagement drivers and tailor initiatives that resonate with the unique needs of a young workforce?
When it comes to fostering engagement, our HR business partners take the lead. Engagement is about how connected an individual feels to the organisation. Do they feel empowered and do they see growth opportunities? To gauge this, we've implemented an HR business partner matrix within specific groups. This matrix assesses individual performance within the 30-60-90 day feedback cycle, which is particularly crucial for new joiners.
Another key area we focus on is performance. For our long-standing team members, understanding their sentiments when it's time to part ways is essential. Are they feeling supported or is there a growing sense of disconnection? The matrix we use in this context brings out patterns, indicating certain managers may not be effectively relaying feedback. When we implement a performance improvement plan, it's eye-opening. Communication gaps emerge, revealing crucial insights. This data-driven approach ensures that every voice is heard.
Engaged teams are pivotal. They're more proactive in organisational initiatives, act as strong referral sources, and actively participate in our CSR endeavours. They become genuine brand ambassadors, embodying our values and mission.
In terms of data analytics, it serves as our North Star, providing clear direction. It helps align strategies, talents, and initiatives, tailored to specific groups. What works for one demographic may not resonate with another. For instance, what engages Gen Z employees in India may differ from other demographics. This personalisation trend is crucial. Even in a sizeable organisation, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't cut it. It's about tailoring initiatives to meet diverse needs and preferences. It's about understanding the nuances of each group and crafting initiatives that resonate on an individual level.
Creating a data-driven culture is integral. How do you foster an environment where HR and other teams embrace analytics and use data to drive insights, decisions, and innovation? What best practices can you share for integrating analytics into the daily workflows of HR and other functional teams?
When it comes to fostering a data-driven culture, the foundation rests on a fundamental mindset shift—a shift towards embracing data. Based on my 20 years of experience in HR across various organisations, I've observed that this transformation typically starts from the top down. Leadership plays a pivotal role. If you want to instil a particular behaviour, you must begin by rewarding and recognising it at the leadership level.
The second crucial step is training and coaching your team on how to effectively use data. It's important not to assume that providing them with a spreadsheet full of pivots and dashboards is sufficient. Interpretation and utilisation require guidance and education.
The third key aspect involves cross-functional collaboration. While each department may have its own data, the real value emerges when you connect the dots. For instance, linking a new hire to their skill set, the project they're assigned to, their deployability, efficiency and competency enrichment. This holistic approach necessitates gathering data from HR, Delivery, Resource Management Group (RMG) and Finance. Collaborating across functions amplifies the value of data and insights.
From a data analytics perspective, an effective starting point is the creation of common dashboards. These dashboards can serve as focal points during meetings and discussions. They become reference points for leaders, encouraging regular communication and attention to key data points.
In our organisation, for instance, we share a P&L(Profit and Loss) report with all business unit heads. This report serves as a starting point for various meetings, including those focused on utilisation, resource management, and training. It's about making data an integral part of our discussions and decision-making processes, which ultimately proves highly beneficial.
Looking ahead, how do you see the role of HR analytics evolving, and what steps are you taking to ensure your HR team remains at the forefront of this transformation?
When we think about the future, it's crucial to recognise that data is fast becoming our DNA. I mean, look around—almost everyone's got a fitness band, keeping tabs on their steps and what they're eating. That's like a little glimpse of how things are changing, and we're seeing the same shift happening in organizations too.
Rather than exclusively relying on prescriptive analysis, the emphasis is shifting towards predictive analysis. I'm less interested in just knowing the source of hires; I want to project the future. What should our talent acquisition strategy look like? How much should we invest in branding efforts and referral programs? AI and analytics together are powering this predictive capability, enabling us to make informed decisions about the future.
In terms of skill set development, a key focus for our HR leaders is staying informed. This involves investing in their training, well-being, and emotional intelligence. Not every HR professional may be adept at analytics or technology, so it's vital to provide structured training programmes. This, in turn, becomes an integral part of their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). It's a dual approach, a push and pull, to ensure the team has the necessary skills to thrive.
The true power of analytics emerges when it's applied consistently over time, allowing us to leverage accumulated data for deeper insights. This long-term perspective is where the real value lies. These insights become the cornerstone for strategic decision-making, shaping the future of our organisation.