Why 21st Century HR Needs a Business Analyst

HR Is Stuck

HR seems to be stuck.

It’s stuck with the need and desire to be a people-centric entity, yet covets the respect and influence of being a member of the executive crowd. The department is strapped with process and policy development, as well as people development. Overseeing and measuring a number of KPIs is part and parcel of the HR game for most organizations.

So why is there little appetite for executives to give HR a seat at the proverbial table?

In my work I get to know many executives; their concerns and focus, as well as similar issues with HR leaders. The most glaring disconnect I see is the lack of a common language. Executives view numbers from an operational perspective and most HR professionals view the same numbers from a developmental perspective. One isn’t more right…just occupational differences, really.

Employee engagement is an absolute necessity to be a 21st century player in the business world. That argument has been settled. The nagging cloud many HR folks seem stuck under is how to measure the ROI on engagement. The trouble is it’s extremely difficult (if not impossible) to show a direct causative connection between employee engagement efforts and improved performance.

Yet, there is 20 years of solid research saying employee engagement improves performance.

Why is there little appetite for executives to give HR a seat at the proverbial table?

The reality is simple. The relationship between engagement and performance is a correlative one, not a causative one. Trying to link engagement and performance directly will always prove fruitless. This is where the business analyst is worth their weight in gold to HR professionals.

Let me explain.

Most companies already measure certain KPIs and trends. These are in place, established, defined, accepted and respected by the executive team. A business analyst can create a dashboard that not only monitors these existing KPI trends, but which also references them to the trends of employee engagement efforts and investments.

This yields two important results. First, HR gains insight into what is and isn’t working. This, in turn, puts HR’s work into an operational context in line with the same language to which the executive team is more accustomed.

As an HR leader, you are able to meet with the executive team as a peer who has done proper due diligence, and acts as a professional who can more easily connect development and operations based on actual numbers…numbers already viewed as accurate and substantive.

Trying to link engagement and performance directly will always prove fruitless. This is where the business analyst is worth their weight in gold to HR professionals.

HR’s role is still contributing to the development of the organization; however, the expression of that role can be much more informed and substantiated when filtered through the well-placed efforts of a business analyst on the HR team.

With a dedicated individual focused on the KPIs, the rest of the HR team only needs to have a look at the dashboard. It gives a good snapshot, as well as an insight into trends that make HR much more strategic in their work.

How do you see the benefit of having a business analyst as an integral member of an HR team?


Art by: YinYangII

William is the Executive Director of The Leadership Advisor, an OD consulting company that works that globally with organizations in the areas of leadership, culture and employee engagement. His message "Human Flourishing is Profitable" has helped earn him the distinction of being an ambassador for the European Workplace Innovation Network (EUWIN), which is supported by the European Commission. William is a playful, witty and painfully honest speaker with a no non-sense approach. He is also the author of Personal Ecology: Self Management and the Art of Cultivating Healthy Relationships.

  • Erik

    So the added value of a business analyst is that he can turn HR’s KPIs into a dashboard, adding a trendline and some correlation numbers? I doubt that you need a business analyst for this, unless you call anyone with certain basic Excel skills a business analyst.

  • http://twitter.com/LeadrshpAdvisor William Powell

     Fair point Erik. The important thing is the development of information in a way that aligns with other areas of an organization…not the title. This is the biggest disconnect I see consistently within organizations. It gives HR time to focus on HR stuff, while having the detailed information that connects with the executive team’s concerns as well.

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