HR Analytics Congress 2019

21 May 2019

Article written by Jurriaan Nagelkerke, Principal Consultant

How fact based does the Dutch HR domain operate?

Slowly but surely, the Dutch HR domain is starting to take a fact-based approach. However, many organizations have only just started with this transition. That is my conclusion after visiting the HR Analytics Congres, on the 16th of may in Bunnik. Around 200 HR professionals attended the 4th edition of this annual congress, for an extensive update analytics in their field. With a total of 23 presentations and workshops divided over 4 rounds, the (potential) value of analytics for HR was presented, researched and discussed. As an analytics consultant, I have applied data analysis and data science in numerous fields, but never for HR. That is why for me personally, this day was a good opportunity to get acquainted with typical HR ‘lingo’ (strategic staff planning, diversity and inclusiveness, promotions, etc…) as well as the most important strategic ‘people analytics’ issues and more operational HR challenges where analytics could be of use.


Front runners use analytics both for HR Strategy and HR operation

The day’s chairman Irma Doze welcomed the (predominantly) HR professionals and closed the congress with its varied program around 17.00 hr. From her introduction, the presented cases and from casual conversations during breaks one thing became clear to me: a few front runners in the Dutch HR domain have already found out how to use data effectively for reducing absence and the outflow of staff, for promoting diversity and inclusiveness and for optimizing talent management. One way these organizations utilize data analysis is for addressing strategic issues. Like: what kind of staff will we need when artificial intelligence has taken over certain positions within our company and how can we prepare for this? The case that was presented by NS (Dutch Railway) was a good example of this. The People Analytics department calculated what consequences the automation of specific tasks for planning will have for the organization as a whole. Another way front runners use data to manage the current HR operation is to explain, recognize and even predict absence. How can we translate these insights into HR policy and how can we prove that it actually works?


Lessons for HR Analytics from other domains

Personally, I think the HR domain can learn a lot from the analytics lessons in other domains, like marketing. Here, data has been used for some time to address both strategic and tactical issues. Off course the differences are obvious – in data, issues, in terminology. But the similarities are just as clear. Predicting the exit of valued customers does not take a whole other approach then predicting certified talent walking out the door. Identifying drivers for absence can easily be compared to exposing drivers that are cause for delayed payments.
Analyzing development paths for employees has many similarities with modelling of the customer experience. These are only a few examples of issues where marketing already has a workflow in place, which could be of value for Human Resource as will, given the right translation. Exactly this was one of the topics in the presentations by Cendris and Achmea, that explicitly went into translating analytics into applications. In other words: bring analytics into production. Crucial for this is developing a good test design (A/B testing) to show the added value of an alternative HR policy.


Inspiring key note speeches

During the closing key notes, the audience was given a brief glimpse into the future. The first key note was presented by Saint Gobain, a multinational with 180,000 employees in 67 countries. This case made clear how Saint Gobain has adopted a fact-based approach for talent management, and how HR analytics is applied in a worldwide, yet very much decentralized organization. Analysis was used in this case to assess whether or not the practiced policy for incoming talent is actually different from other incoming staff. Analysis was also applied to identified those talents who are likely to leave Saint Gobain, and to identify ‘undiscovered’ talent. The second key note was presented by ’data doctor’ Egge van der Poel. In his inspiring session he explained to the audience the many buzzwords surrounding analytics: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data… Egge illustrated his presentation with examples from his experience as a data scientist in the health sector, and inspiring quotes and cases from ‘big boys’ like Google and Amazon.

Overall, a good day with many examples of best practices from the Dutch HR domain and some glimpses into the future. Next year’s event will undoubtedly have more ‘real’ HR Analytics cases from Dutch organizations.


Do you want to know more about this subject? Please contact Jurriaan Nagelkerke using the details below

Jurriaan Nagelkerke, Principal Consultant

+31 6 29 62 00 11

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