As everyone working with HR becomes aware of the importance of data analytics and its impact on enhancing recruiting, workforce management and performance, it’s a matter of time when the question of an HR dashboard is put forward.
But before embarking on a dashboard hunt in the jungle of available solutions on the market, we have to take a step back and review several important things before making a decision. Buying or building a dashboard to just have one won’t solve our HR issues, not to mention expecting any real ROI.
Implementing an HR dashboard isn’t a goal in itself, its purpose is to help us make an impact on the business, indicated Henrik Sandén, People & HR Analyst at The Talent Company opening his presentation at the Nordic People Analytics Summit.
He experienced a change of heart with what a dashboard represents for HR and what its true purpose is during his experience working in people analytics. Pivoting his presentation title, Henrik emphasised that dashboard shouldn’t be used for measuring performance against strategic performance. Instead, they are to be used to make an impact on the organisation.
HR dashboards help build a data culture
Adopting HR dashboards helps achieve a data culture in the organisation, states Henrik. And we need a data culture if we are to have a successful HR department, and a successful data-driven company altogether.
However, the change of culture needs to happen in every single person working within HR and making decisions. All decisions made in the HR department should be based on data. And all people involved in the HR process in any way should have the data available to them in order to make decisions.
“Everyone in HR should be an analyst in a way”, claims Henrik.
What is the purpose of a dashboard
When we have decided to use a dashboard, we have to know it is actually showing us. It should help us connect the dots in our HR processes.
A dashboard centralises and visualises the data we have in various systems like our HR system, ATS (application tracking system), engagement surveys, performance metrics. Having all the data in a single dashboard helps us understand if something in our onboarding process contributes to the high rate in people leaving the organisation. It basically gives us a grasp of the overall employee journey and the impact of different HR processes.
Dashboards provide us with actionable real-time insights regarding trends in employee turnover and reasons why people leave by aggregating data from exit surveys. These insights help us identify possible employees at risk of early leaving and create personalised approaches for them.
To Buy or to DIY your HR dashboard?
There are two options for implementing an HR dashboard – buy one or build one on your own, explains Henrik.
The benefits of a bought dashboard are
- They offer easy, plug and play integration with predefined features.
- They have pre-defined metrics.
- Customer support.
However, pre-defined metrics might be a double-edged sword because maybe those KPIs are not relevant to a company’s HR strategy. Also, companies offering HR dashboards may export your data to a third-party provider. And although they have external data for benchmarking, Henrik advises caution with using it since it may not fit your company. He refers to many decisions gone wrong with benchmarking data in HR.
Nevertheless, if you opt to buy an HR dashboard, here are several questions you should ask yourself:
– Can you trust them? You still need to ensure that the data and everything else is of the right quality because your decisions depend on it.
– Does it fit your context?
– Is it prepared for your next step? Especially, if you are starting to introduce data culture within your HR team. A static, descriptive dashboard may work fine at the beginning, but can it serve your HR team when they need deeper insights?
The other option is to build a dashboard yourself.
The pros of building one yourself are:
- You’ll get it your way without risk of miscommunication with an external vendor. Plus you don’t have to implement yet another system, but build upon your existing HR system.
- You can connect it with your internal data. There are some sensitive data, e.g. financial data, that you might not want to share with a vendor.
- You own your data since it’s in your proprietary system. We don’t need to emphasise the benefit of data ownership. With a vendor, you do sign a contract that you own your data, but if you switch suppliers, it might happen that you can’t get it back, says Henrik.
- It’s a tool for everyone. Both HR managers and people analytics people will be able to use it; it’s not only limited to the analytics team.
- It will be adaptable on the long-term in case you change your organisation, metrics or priorities.
But again, if you decide to build a dashboard on your own, you should consider the following:
– You need to know what you’re doing because there is no technical support to rely on.
– You need to secure resources in terms of developers who can build and maintain the software, having in mind all the integrations and changes.
– Don’t underestimate the time – unlike the ready-made dashboard, it takes longer to build one on your own. So don’t miss to calculate the time needed to develop it.
How to successfully make it stick and support the change
Once you have your dashboard, bought or built, you need to start working with it as it won’t solve your problems by itself. “It’s like buying a pair of fancy running shoes. They won’t take you out for a jog, you need to do it yourself – this week, next week, and the following week – if you want to run a marathon,” illustrates Henrik.
In order to successfully implement a dashboard and enable your HR team to make data-informed decisions, you need to build a culture around data. However, some people like data, and some don’t. And you need to help them to start working with data by creating a framework for decision-making.
This framework should entail clear steps and processes of how and where to start with data. Make it a practice that every initiative and project should be backed up by data. But, the framework should also be about encouraging people to tap into their analytical part of the brain, stresses Henrik. That also means taking the time to analyse the data. Because it doesn’t matter if you have the best dashboard in front of you, if you are not pondering on the data, it’s all for nought.
That also means you need to inspire trust around the data and the processes. Henrik suggests one-on-one training with individual members of the HR teams on their own specific needs. Make yourself available for follow-ups until people feel confident in using the data. Provide detailed templates and team up people with informal leaders to help them start using data when talking about the processes.
Track the usage of the dashboard, not to reprimand people if someone doesn’t use it, but get real feedback on possible challenges they might have.
And lastly, “lead by example” and use the data yourself in order to set an example in your HR team and organisation.