What HR should be asking part 2 Dec 13, 2013 HRExaminer.com

What is becoming possible is so far beyond conventional definitions of analytics that you’ll miss the bus if that’s how you approach the problem.

While the fancy analysts declare that there are not enough quant heads in HR, it looks more like a shortage of imagination and the ability to visualize stories. Each of the fifteen items in the overall list involve understanding and digesting the impact of data flows on the way we think about our people.Surprisingly, this list barely scratches the surface of what’s already possible. What’s coming in the next couple of years is mind blowing.

  1. How will HR help executives visualize the organization?
    Take a look at this dynamic org chart from Autodesk research (here’s the internal research project). Human capital moves in, around, through, over and under the company. Until now, there were few tools that made the facts of the labor market clear. Visualization of labor supplies and sources are virtually at our fingertips. Anticipate organizational visualizations that show resource utilization, revenue generation, process flow, and physical workflow as animations. What we will discover when we really get the data into the open will be mind blowing. LinkedIn already owns much of this information. Soon, companies are going to ask their employees to limit the data they disclose in their online profiles because it reveals so much to the competition.
  2. What is HR’s role in work life balance questions for remote workers? Working all the time creates wage hour issues and increases stress related stuff?
    Most savvy managers encourage work from home because employees are so productive there. It’s harder to develop a sense of work – not work when both things occupy the same physical space. As a result, workers clock more hours when they work from home. The problem is multi-faceted. Wage-hour laws still apply wherever an employee works (so you can expect a raft of work from home wage-hour claims). People who work all the time tend to be less productive that people with saner boundaries. Expect to see HR step in to certify people before they’re allowed to work remotely. In this case, work-life balance has legal implications.
  3. How does decentralized work impact organizational politics and culture?
    Organizational politics is nothing more than the way that the resource allocation process plays out. In the absence of the water cooler, politics goes underground. When everyone works in the same place, it’s easy to see who is getting what. Remote work reduces some of the physical transparency that is the life blood of company culture HR’s role as the monitor and facilitator of corporate values and behavior takes on new meaning when it’s happening remotely and online.
  4. Is there a natural stopping place for automation? (When is enough enough, when does a workflow become a jail cell)
    Process and workflow automation (the essence of first generation enterprise software) is starting to wade into niches where individual judgment made a competitive difference. At some point, automation ceases to be a productivity enhancer and starts to become an innovation inhibitor. Are we there already?
  5. Who owns all of the data that employees generate (not from doing the work but from being at work)? HR is the logical home for the data.
    From the travel plans of our stuff to the productivity implications of workspace temperature variations, the data generated as a waste product of work has increasing value to the organization. As tracking devices miniaturize to the size of grains of sand, they will be embedded in everything. For the most part, any changes will be caused by the integration of people and the thing being monitored. The internet of stuff (things) is widely followed in the EU. It’s all about customizing the universe to our individual needs. Our devices will be talking to each other and us online. Spreading the learning throughout the organization is whose job?
  6. What are the limits of an employee file? What should they be? What do you learn when you aggregate all of your employees social graph?
    If you are not already aggregating the social graph for your employee base, it’s time to start. Your recruiting department is doing some form of social media profiling of candidates already.
    In the near future, there will be an incident of workplace violence that could have been forecast by reviewing social media. At that point, the lawyers will reverse their current primitive views and demand comprehensive files.
  7. Workforce optimization (knowing who is doing what and where the workflow overlaps are) seems like a logical piece of the HR portfolio. Why don’t we apply these supply chain management principles to all aspects of the company? 
    Companies like TOA Technologies ought to pulled into the HRTech umbrella. The difference between physical logistics and human performance optimization is a question of whether you care about the box or the box carrier. We’ve optimized the box side of the equation and need to move on to the human side. This would amount to teaching the OD people to be deeply involved in the actual work before shaping an operation.
  8. Employee development happens more effectively when interest groups are formed. Should the cultivation of professional societies and internal Birds of a Feather groups be part of HR’s work?
    Building professional communities under the roof of the organization poses some interesting questions. Should they be open to people who aren’t a part of the organization? (probably). Who’s responsible for their ongoing success? (probably HR) Internal professional networks provide more interesting career paths and shift the locus of influence to the actual work. This obvious offshoot of collaborative tools can’t afford to left to organic growth. In house communities of interest will become the training backbone of the enterprise.

So, there you have it. If someone asks you what in the world you can do with big data, point them here. What is becoming possible is so far beyond conventional definitions of analytics that you’ll miss the bus if that’s how you approach the problem.

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What HR Should Be Asking Part 1 image Dec 11, 2013 HRExaminer.com
What HR Should Be Asking Part 1

More than a mandate, change is an issue of survival. It's time to ask new questions.