CHRO’s Meet – Blacks & Whites of HR Analytics


I had an opportunity to participate in CHRO meet last week, organized by Raise Global. It was an event by invitation – a small group of 20+ CHROs from diverse industry to share, reflect and discuss on the topic of HR and Workforce analytics for a competitive advantage. The group included representations from Aviation, Retail, Academics, IT & Cloud, EduCom, Investor community, Hospital, Construction, Banking, Manufacturing, and consulting.

The 2 hours long deeply engaged conversation touched upon multiple dimensions of HR Analytics but in a nutshell, can be summarized in 4 key themes:

– Purpose
– Hype vs. Reality
– Shift from FTE Reporting to Employee Cognitive
– Enabler to Government for developing insight-led employee policies


Hospitals being seen more like hospitality industry requires transformation. One of the leading hospital chain in India – Manipal is reinventing the employee engagement using data insights to drive cultural change and workforce planning. They have adopted an approach which looks more like plan-do-act-check but with a twist:

Current Story –> Get informed —> Receive data insights —> Initiate change —> Tell the transformed story again

BIAL (Bangalore International Airport Limited), one of large size workforce organization, is using people insights to sense-check their people strategy and communicate the story effectively. In other words, it’s an intelligent way of blending art and science. BIAL is using it to their advantage than getting stuck in a debate of “Will Analytics take away the human touch from HR.”

A blue-collar job intensive manufacturing firm is using data insights to be prepared to tackle unexpected events such as strike – tell a connected story from workforce planning and productivity to drive the message to Employee Association to call off the strike and bring harmony.

Few more dimensions were shared across the table. However, insight led compelling “story” came up as the key purpose that most of the CHROs intend to use Analytics for, to drive their people agenda to their c-suite peer group.

Hype Vs Reality:

Hype vs. Reality was an obvious point to come up in the discussion, knowing the level of noise (be it books, conferences, universities offering courses, Startups, and increased number of HR process digitization tools) that is currently HR is witnessing in the industry. The feeling of hype may also originate from the fear of lag compared to the peer group. However, the conversation leaned more towards HR Analytics as reality, post witnessing few success stories such as:

– A tech company used people and actuarial data to drive the story of 48% higher group insurance take up at 10% reduced cope.
– A hospital increased internal training capability by 70% by driving insight led story to their staff and customer engagement
– A labor intensive firm almost neutralized the impact of employee association strike on productivity by predicting forthcoming strike and workforce/productivity planning
– A Tech company has eliminated physical employee badges by bringing swap-in/swap-out to employee’s mobile. This led to understanding employees better through collected data points, driving better employee engagement, increased productivity and reduced shrinkage
– A department in Armed force is predicting individual success for next 25 years and developing learning path to success.

There were more success stories and feeling of endless possibilities to use people data in conjunction with other functional data to tell the strategic story of people. Even if HR Analytics is hyped, I believe it is pushing organizations to start to adopt and witness an early outcome before they make big ticket investment in building this competency.

A shift from FTE Reporting to Employee Cognitive:

This segment was purely contextual to the organization’s position on the HRA maturity curve. The spread was quite wide enough from no data accessibility to use of IBM Watson. However, the question that needed reflection included:

– Is an aspiration to use analytics is sufficient enough criteria to drive this transformation?

– Will an analytics-driven CHRO of India center be able to drive this change if s(he) doesn’t have access to front-line employee data due to organizational boundaries?

– Are HR Generalists comfortable to use the language of the probability of an event/outcome than the percentage?

– Am I telling the true story of my HR Analytics success to the world or is it just a showcase?

Enabler to Government for developing insight-led employee policies:

One of the senior CHRO brought up the topic of collaboration between private sector and government led employee policies. He raised very pertinent points such as:
– Does government consider any insights while bringing any change in employee related policy?
– Do they think predicting the possible impact on employee morale or organization bottom line before implementing any change? Some of the example quoted were minimum bonus payout and change in retirement age etc.

There is a strong need for collaboration and openness between private sector and government policy maker. We didn’t have any success stories to mention, but I see a possibility of another level of an outcome that can be driven by the eco-system through this collaboration and usage of HR Analytics.


While conferences and Industry futurists have moved on to talk about future of work – Mobile, AI & RPAs, the ground reality is different. The challenges faced by each organization is different and could be wide-spread i.e. data, technology, leadership, bureaucracy, capability, emotional or political. Two hours of no-break debate on four key themes of HR Analytics – purpose, reality, cognitive, and collaboration, could establish an appreciation for the importance of HR Analytics and what benefit it could deliver in today’s context. The right balance of “Art” and “Science” is a more realistic approach to HR Analytics adoption.

P.S. Congratulations to Reva University for launching Post Graduate Diploma in HR Analytics. I am sure this course will help early adopter fast forward their journey of HR 2.0. Additionally, Kudos to Raise Global team for bringing this elite group under one roof to connect, share and learn from each other.

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