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High Flyers

Using talent analytics to get to the next level

Posted by Jeff Schwartz, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

High flyers are those early adopters applying analytics to almost every business decision and HR is no exception. Talent analytics can offer HR new ways of approaching their most important talent questions, from recruitment to utilization to development to retention and beyond.

So what may be stopping companies from flying high with analytics? While most companies have implemented HR transactional systems, many haven’t fully integrated their talent systems. In addition, many businesses feel they have limited HR data that really doesn’t tell them what they need to know. These challenges can hold companies back from experimenting with talent analytics – effectively keeping some businesses stuck on the runway while others are taxiing for takeoff.

But analytics is quickly becoming a no-excuses proposition. “We don’t have the data,” or “Our data quality is poor,” or “We’re still busy integrating the systems we have” shouldn’t be reason enough to preclude the organization from moving forward.

No matter where a company is along the analytics spectrum, there can be benefits from experimenting with analytics to raise the talent game. A shift in mindset is crucial. Flying high with talent analytics should mean moving from focusing on what you can’t do because you don’t have certain data to figuring out what you can do with the data and systems you already have. Analytics pilots are one way to move from trimming the trees with analytics to becoming a high flyer.

Let’s say an organization is working on effective recruiting. Instead of getting stuck on not having the best employee data, they can pick a sample of employees, analyze the data in that sample and determine how that data is correlated with high performance. This exercise doesn’t require a whole new data environment – but it should require that HR and business leaders be open to experimenting with analytics.

If a business has a particularly challenging business issue – the retention of its sales force in China, for example – it can be an opportunity to apply analytics in a focused way. Running a small set of projects with existing data and building on that effort incrementally can move the business beyond the trees. From the pilot, business leaders can see what decisions can be made differently and what insights can be brought forward to improve the retention of the company’s China-based sales force.

The lesson? Start small, stay focused, then apply learnings more broadly.

In terms of the tools being used, skills required and expectations of talent leaders, these are indeed interesting and challenging times. People are moving into talent/HR roles from other parts of the business because they have experience in using analytics to make data-driven decisions. Traditional HR/talent leaders may have to skill up, to lead in their discipline, to go beyond their current comfort level as decision models become more important.

Companies using talent analytics to improve business performance today are demonstrating what can be possible. They seem to be making better decisions by taking the most important questions they have about their workforce and applying analytics to them. They are combining their gut instinct and tribal wisdom with data and analytics to help reach new conclusions. They are answering core talent business questions around selection, retention, advancement and promotion. And ultimately, they are working towards an organizational shift from being a tree trimmer to becoming a high flyer.

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.

Deloitte, its affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

About Deloitte
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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