Episode 2: Driving Business Performance with People Data (Interview with Edward Houghton, Head of Research and Thought Leadership at the CIPD)

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With 69% of large organisations now having a people analytics team, interest in the topic has never been higher. But how do you actually drive business performance with people data? That’s the topic of this week’s podcast. Click below to play this week’s episode.

Our guest today is Edward Houghton, Head of Research and Thought Leadership at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, or the CIPD, where he has been the lead author on a number of landmark studies on analytics, measurement, metrics and impact evaluation.

In today's podcast we discuss:

  • The importance of people analytics to Business Leaders, Investors, Workers, and HR

  • Examples of where people analytics has helped drive business performance

  • The most important topic probably in people analytics: employee trust and ethics

  • What the CIPD is doing, the initiatives it is taking to help improve data literacy amongst HR professionals

  • We also look ahead and ponder what the role of HR will be in 2025.

This episode is a must listen for anyone who works in a people analytics role and indeed anyone interested in the topic of evidence-based management. You can also check out the full transcript from the interview below.

Support for this podcast is brought to you by Culture Amp - find out more at cultureamp.com


David Green: Welcome to the Digital HR Leader show Ed, it's great to have you here. Can you give listeners a quick introduction to you and your role at the CIPD and maybe also a little bit about your vision of HR.

Ed Houghton: Sure. Thank you, David it's great to be here. So I'm Ed Houghton and I lead the CIPD's research and thought leadership program.

So what we do at the CIPD is we look at what's happening in the future of the world of work and we look at the practices in the world of HR that we think are going to have the greatest impact. And in research we look at the evidence of what works within HR and my job in particular is to develop an agenda on the future of work and the future of HR and then work with experts across HR practice, senior leadership, c-suite and academics to work out what practices are the most effective in organisations today.

David Green: Great, well it's great to have you on the show and last year, I'm going to talk about people analytics, not purely about people analytics, we're going to talk a little bit about it as it's something we're obviously both passionate about, so you produced a great report last year: "People Analytics driving Business Performance through People Data" one of the best reports I think that was published last year about the topic. Can you give listeners who haven't read it and you really should read it, they can download it for free I know. That's okay to do it. What are some of the main highlights and findings that you you found in the research.

Ed Houghton: So the survey really came from this idea of wanting to look at HR practice from the perspective of HR professionals, but also to see from senior Finance managers and non-finance, non HR professionals, their perspectives on people data.

How is people data being used in organisations today? What kind of impact is it having or not having in organisations? And to develop an agenda of how HR can think about people analytics as a core component of HR practice. So we surveyed HR practitioners globally and finance practitioners globally, we got around a thousand HR practitioners and a thousand Finance professionals to respond to our survey, a really nice balance. We know in particular the HR functions' struggle in sharing and developing data-driven outcomes with Finance. So we wanted to look very closely at the different perspectives on the outcomes that we were looking for and in the work one of the areas that we were really keen to explore, around skills and confidence, is whether or not HR practitioners are thinking in terms of maturity. How confident and capable they are, and whether or not they're sharing the outcomes of their analytics with their stakeholders. And confidence and capability is something that we've recognised over time at the CIPD have been a real barrier to progress when we talk about HR data.

So we surveyed these professionals and we found some really interesting results particularly around confidence. So confidence globally tends to be pretty high when it comes to very basic analytics looking at mean and mode and calculating averages and developing really simple reports. And globally confidence tends to be around 75% of HR practitioners are happy and confident of doing that, but as you move towards the more sophisticated analytics of doing predictive modeling or developing structural equations and modeling using structural equation modeling. It becomes much much different and in particular in the UK the confidence level dropped significantly.

So only a fifth of those HR practitioners we surveyed were confident and capable to do that level of advanced analytics and globally the average at that level was around 40 percent. So we noticed a real difference in particular in the UK context and we also recognised that other regions in particular the US, are leading the way when it comes to people analytics in practice. So that's one of the first major findings from that work. It shows us that actually there's more to be done within the UK context around building confidence and capability. The second finding that I think is really quite interesting for the UK is how we think about the capability in teams to use data analytics insights.

So we obviously talk about the push and pull of analytics of developing a good receiving system that's able to receive analytics in outputs and then use it in decision-making and we found that there are three behaviours in effective teams around using data insights. The first is this idea that you have a team which is confident communicating analytics and is able to talk about the value of analytics.

So proactive managers are using analytics and being confident in the way they talk about it. So that's one behaviour that we found is significant within teams who are effective at using analytics. The second quite interesting finding from that is that if you have line managers who are asking for data, then you're more likely to have a team which is effective at delivering insights.

So, you know it makes a lot of sense, but it's useful to isolate these behaviours because these are the behaviours that we want HR practitioners to build into these teams that are confident and capable. And the third is this idea of connecting the dots. So how do you have a team that develops analytics output outcomes? Is that you develop an understanding that analytics doesn't happen in isolation. They actually need to connect the dots between business outcomes and make sure that all stakeholders are learning from the way that you use your analytics in practice so that allowed us to really think about what kind of behaviours do we need HR practitioners to be building in their organisations.

We started to talk a lot more about this idea of analytics culture. There's a culture in organisations where analytics is done well that we need to foster and develop and it's all about confidence and capability and it's all about empowering line managers to see and know the data is there for them to use in their decision-making.

David Green: That's great. It was I must admit I did find the regional variation quite interesting, kind of expected it with the US. It just thinking about the UK here, but it was quite interesting to see that places like the Middle East where I know that analytics is less advanced than it is in the UK, there was a higher confidence level there. Same I think in Singapore as well, so I don't know whether it's just that we're slightly less confident in the UK at the moment for maybe other reasons outside people analytics.

Ed Houghton: We won't mention the b word.

David Green: No, no, that's not mention the b word.

Ed Houghton: Well interestingly two weeks ago I was out in Dubai and asked the question, for Dubai HR leaders these data points tell me that there's something happening in the UAE where we were at that time that's different to what we see in the UK and for me on the outside looking in I'm curious about why this seems to have happened. What's the phenomenon behind this difference in confidence and capability. And their view is similar to yours from their knowledge of what happens in their organisations, particular barriers in using analytics, they are finding very hard to overcome and one of those is around capability and skills, but another is around connecting the dots between analytics within the function and other types of business analytics. And their response was actually, you may have levels of confidence around using other forms of data and that they feel is quite strong in the region, but actually when it comes to people analytics doing specific insight activity around people data, they found quite difficult.

So in their interpretation of the results, they think that there is good confidence around using data and the numerical skills associated with using data effectively, but they also question this idea of whether or not the region is is effective at using people data. To me it is more questions that we need to answer through research. For the CIPD, we're really keen to lift the lid on what's happening in the UAE and the Middle East but also in Singapore as well where we work very closely with organisations around evidence-based practice and using data and decision-making. And again, there, very high levels of educational attainment, very capable and confident business graduates moving into the profession, which is very strong.

And that might be one of the reasons we have fairly good confidence in Singapore in particular, but there are still some questions to ask those organisations in region because it does seem fairly high and for the UK, I think we are perhaps getting ourselves down a little bit on our confidence and capability, but we know at the CIPD that there's a lot that we can do and will be doing to help HR professionals to better use their data. We've known for a long time that this is a big challenge particularly when it comes to technologies in the workplace and technologies that HR have access to and now there's some evidence for us to use to say well actually to enable effective HR we have to be using data effectively and confidence and capability are core to that.

David Green: So you touched on there that to actually do good HR we do need people data and analytics. I think it's for some of our listeners who maybe aren't as deep in the space as you and me why is people data and analytics so important? And becoming more important as well.

Ed Houghton: So in the profession now we talk about evidence-based practice and in the last three years at the CIPD, we've been looking very closely at how we can incorporate the idea of evidence-based practice into the HR profession and to encourage HR practitioners to start to use more different forms of evidence in their decision making. Partly it comes from a criticism or a critique of HR in being too gut-based and that's often a critique I hear when I talk to non-HR practitioners particularly from the Finance profession, it is the evidence used to define decisions. Sometimes it doesn't come to them very quickly and there's a reliance on judgment based on gut and instinct and that to me is a bit of a red flag. It says well actually there are many forms of evidence that HR practitioners use every single day and partly it's about educating the business that this is what's happened. This is what happens in HR practice, but secondly and I think importantly there's been a real growth in technology application in organisations in HR functions, which means we can do have more data that we can use to be more evidence-based.

And in the school of evidence-based practice this idea of being evidence-based is all about incorporating four forms of evidence. One is evidence from scientific research. Research from academics who look at the theories and the phenomenon of work around practices that work in organisations and in particular how those practices influence outcomes. So that's evidence in the form of scientific literature.

Data and analytics around Workforce data is another form of evidence, it's the second form of evidence. It can come in different forms of data, but it's data that's captured on systems within the organisation.

The third form of data is this idea of insights from the stakeholders who will be most impacted by decisions that we make so in HR that would be the perspectives of workers or employees. That's another very important form of evidence that we use in decision making.

And finally is the one that we see HR professionals almost forgetting sometimes but it's a very important form of evidence, is their professional expertise, is what they've seen previously and what they've used in their decision-making historically. What kind of things they've seen through their practice, particularly senior HR professionals will draw a lot on their expertise and a lot from what they've seen historically to inform their decisions. These four forms of evidence we use every single day as humans to make decisions and our view is that to be better HR practitioners, to be more focused on outcomes and to be more likely to create good outcomes through our decisions, we have to use these four forms of evidence in combination, so data and analytics is one of those forms of evidence that until most recently has been maybe less invested in by HR functions, but with more technologies on the market, more push from senior stakeholders internally and externally, so CEOs the c-suite and now investors, there's more of a push on HR practitioners and HR functions to think about the data they're collecting and then to think about how they report it to their stakeholders and then creating this idea of being evidence-based using that data.

So focusing very much on how they provide insights to the business and how they show that they are being evidence-based through their decision-making. Because if we know if we are evidence-based in our decision-making and if we show our working the business is far more responsive to our recommendations, is far more likely to take on the recommendations that we provide as HR practitioners.

David Green: We talked a lot about business outcomes and you explained that people analytics is one of the four types of evidence-based decision-making HR professionals can use. I think in terms of bringing it to life to some of the listeners, can you think of a couple of really good examples from your experience of how organisations have actually done that.

Ed Houghton:  Sure. So one example that I like to talk about a lot is the work of Greg Aitken at RBS who took a very methodical research-based approach to looking at engagement in the branch network at RBS, and they were very clear in wanting to understand the link between engagement in their branch network. Those Bank branches serving customers. What are the enablers of good customer service and good performance outcomes and through their work in the branches by working with their key stakeholders in the branches as well as collecting live data on engagement of employees and customer service data from those different branches. They were able to locate the best performing managers who they can then parachute in to parts of the organisation. Where engagement's low. Now to me that's a very, very simple methodology in terms of putting it on paper and the data probably already exists or existed in their datasets to be able to do this kind of work.

So it wasn't as if they were having to redefine a lot of the measures that they were collecting. So it is already there. They've already got access to it. It's all about, what I like about the case is, it's all about thinking of the question. It's all about what was the question that they wanted to answer. In my view the question is the most important part of what we do in analytics. And the RBS case study I think really highlights that if you have a good question such as what are the forms of engagement that are leading to good performance in our branches? You can start to then really look closely at what's working in the organisation.

Too often, I see HR practitioners getting stuck because they haven't defined a good question. They haven't defined a set of measures that they want to measure against that question. They've almost gone too quickly into doing the analysis, instead of stepping back and working with their stakeholders to work out actually what is the question you're trying to answer. So RBS, the case is public and it's available, Greg often talks about it at conferences. It's a really wonderful description of how you can use a simple measure like engagement to look at something that's very much a business priority to RBS, which is customer service.

The second case study I'm really interested at the moment on is the use of data and analytics to external stakeholders. So SSE, the utilities  provider, have developed probably one of the first human capital reports of the value of their workforce and the investment they make in their workforce using analytics of the workforce that they've developed over time.

They worked with a number of consultancies to develop an external facing report essentially sharing the human capital asset value of their business and it was a really neat move because it demonstrated that in terms of sustainability of organisations particularly to investors who are interested in more ethical investment or investing in organisations in the long term. They were able to conceptualise what the value of their workforce was and to demonstrate how their investments through skill development and training and education was leading to higher human capital value over the long term and that was all based on data that they had in their organisations sitting within their people data system.

What I think that demonstrates is we talk about analytics within the function all the time or how we use it with our internal stakeholders. What I'm now seeing is those really savvy organisations are taking those points that we talk about internally and then reconsidering them from an external perspective. And for us at the CIPD the investment community is one incredibly powerful and very interested community in human capital data in workforce data. And so their one community is really asking questions around workforce analytics and the second is obviously around the regulators and in particular in highly regulated organisations or industries.

The question of how do you treat your workforce, how you develop your workforce? Is becoming more and more common particularly in the banking industry. And so there are also more tensions and pressures on organisations to demonstrate what they do around managing their workforce and reporting that to the regulators and so organisations like the Banking Standards  Board and the Financial Reporting Council in the UK are really looking very closely at human capital data within People Analytics and using that to inform their work in terms of regulation pressure or regulatory pressure. But also then how they steward organisations to think more effectively about the data that they're using. So there are all sorts of different stakeholders now asking questions of organisations, which organisations are having to use people data to respond to. That maybe 15-20 years ago may not have been the case or we were relying, overly relying on a measure like engagement to respond to some of these issues. But now because people data systems are more comprehensive. They're more sophisticated, you're bringing in data from all sorts of different parts of the business. You can create a very holistic view of how you're managing your workforce. And as we've seen in the most recent corporate governance scandals. There are questions now about how organisations are treating their people. So this is only going to rise on the agenda of management and treatment of the workforce .

So, as gender pay gap reporting showed us last year, it's possible, it may not be the best measure ever, it may not be the most appropriate use of some of that data that we see the press doing but at least what it shows us is that data about the workforce should be reported externally if there's a case for it and it can be done. Organizations of 250 plus employees are now reporting this data and they're mandated to in the UK and so it shows that people data in its most basic form can be used by external stakeholders to think about what's going on in organisations today. So whereas historically we may have not seen people data as being the most strategically important concept in organisations or to boards. Now it really has risen up the agenda and things like gender pay gap reporting have really got boards thinking about what kind of data they collect and how they share it with their external stakeholders.

David Green: There's definitely a definition going on isn't there and I think the first example in particular you gave around RBS, is very interesting because as you said it's the importance of getting the business question right. It's Much easier to engage the business if you're focusing on something that's important to them. And clearly branch performance is important. 

Ed Houghton: This is the thing, it's all about, and this is why I think evidence-based practice is very useful because it encourages you to reposition your perspective on the issue and it means because you're thinking about those different forms of evidence that you engage with your business stakeholder.

You talk to your line managers about what issue they're seeing, you go to the line, you go to employees and say what's your view on this issue? You go to the vast amount of literature there is on issues in the workplace. Say it is engagement, whether it's mental health and well-being whether it's health and safety, whether it's Performance Management, there's a whole world of academic research that's already been done on these very important business issues. So evidence based practice allows you to bring all of this thinking into one place and I think critically enables you to ask the question of so what? What does this mean to the business? And how can HR do analytics? With the business for the business. And that's a very different perspective to where I think analytics was five, ten years ago, which was about analytics for HR and it's a very different perspective. I think we take on analytics now.

David Green: So we touched on obviously focusing on the business challenge in hand being very important and I know in the report you did last year and some of the other research that you've done in the CIPD. You know this whole thing around skills and capabilities in HR. So confidence I think was one of the things that you saw and capability. What are some of the other areas that HR struggles with people analytics and and evidence-based decision-making?

Ed Houghton:  Yes. So last year, we launched our new profession map and in our new profession map we have really established at the core this idea of being evidence-based and around it we've established some new behaviours and new knowledge that we're encouraging HR practitioners to build and develop and many of these behaviours are relevant to their practice outside of analytics, but they're particularly core to analytics practice.

So in particular it's this idea of being structured in your thinking, being critical, so critically appraising data and insights. It's also about communicating that data and the insights from your analysis to your stakeholders. So there's a set of behaviours that we've defined in our new profession map which are really about connecting the dots of data analytics to the outcomes of the business. The second is the core knowledge of the profession in particular. We need to improve numerical skills and capabilities and basic statistics. That's part of our new maturity scale within our profession map and then secondly, it's about data science skills. So how can we encourage data science skills to either be developed within the HR profession or to be sourced in from other functions within the organisation, so skills and capabilities around using different types of statistical modeling tools and software and again about defining research questions and thinking about research methods are new capabilities or skills that we want to see the profession developing and then we've also, because of the growth in analytics, because it's such a important area to the business we've now defined an analytics specialism. So alongside the capabilities we want all HR practitioners develop practitioners to develop, we also have a new specialism that we're really encouraging HR practitioners who do have a numerical background, who are interested in being more evidence-based, who are able to bring together different models and systems and to think systemically about issues in your organisation to become  analytics specialists who do develop data science capability and who are thinking about modeling and thinking about business issues from a modeling perspective. So that's a new specialism we've also created within the new profession map. So I think what will happen over time as these new behaviours, knowledge spaces or knowledge base and new specialisms will allow us to develop these capabilities across the board within the profession. So numerical skills do improve but then also we're developing in the profession skills and capability that are specialised towards analytics and I think that specialist perspective on analytics is what's missing.

It's something that we haven't seen really develop within the profession and I've noticed a kind of a trend for people buying in these kind of skills and capabilities, which is important and it can work. But we also need to build the basic kind of skills and capabilities around analytics and that I think is perhaps what's been missing for some time.

And which may be why analytics has taken some time to really, you know reach take off. It's kind of been getting there. But I think now because we started talking about those basic capabilities and more advanced specialisms. There's a great opportunity now for HR to make the most of analytics and to be developing itself on how to use data and insights more effectively.

David Green: Yeah, I think I think you struck on it there. Yes, we obviously need to develop the specialists and support people analytics practitioners themselves, but I guess there's this whole thing, and I think you've touched on it really, the whole data literacy of the rest of HR and I'm thinking particularly here HR business partners engaging with their business on a day-to-day basis.

There's that role I see between the people analytics team and the HR business partner. I think the people analytics team need to better understand the role of the HR business partner and their day to day challenges. And I think a lot of my colleagues in people analytics sometimes forget about that. They always see it from their side that the HR business partner needs to be a bit more data literate which I think we probably agree, but there's almost this kind of role this translation role for the HR business partner principally perhaps to actually have to take some of the findings from the people analytics team and actually communicate that in a way that people will actually in the business will actually make decisions on. Is that something that you're...

Ed Houghton: Yeah, so what we're going to be investigating this year is exactly that. It's the structure of the function.. Which structures of the function in terms of capabilities and skills, but also Technologies are more likely to develop this positive analytics culture that we talked about earlier and in my view it is it's partly about business partners being enabled to critically appraise the situation, develop that problem that business problem. So instead of responding perhaps which I see happen quite a lot with a dashboard of data and say hit the dashboard of data. Now, let's look for what the problem is. Having a very positive and encouraging conversation with the business partner to say, well actually it's about you working with the business to define between you what the issue is, and I know many business partners do that, through their practice already but being more methodical about it will enable more effective practice. The second I think is definitely that bridging role that you've talked about there because that bridging role is all about the translation and it's also about conceptualising what is a business problem from a people perspective partly that can be done by the BP.

But actually, I think it's more likely to be done in that bridging role because then in the center of expertise that you have around analytics you can have all those skills and capabilities already in place to do the analysis of the raw data and to do the modeling, but you need that translation piece between them and I see it so many times when I'm at conferences, when I'm speaking to practitioners in our own research, but that's where it falls down with that translation.

People get what the business problem is, but then translating it into what data would they need to collect and analyse and then also looking at all of the potential errors that could occur in the analysis. That kind of expertise needs to be developed in that bridging role because there's a challenge around having 100% perfect data, it's not going to happen and too often we see the businesses expecting that in the data analysis that they receive and the business partner needs to be very savvy in talking about the potential in analytics, but also some of the errors in analytics that they need to be made aware of if they're to make a more effective decision and I think sometimes we rely on analytics as being the solution to everything but actually analytics is used in part with all of these other tools that HR practitioners have and by doing that by incorporating HR analytics as part of the toolkit that HR leaders have we can talk about all of the effectiveness around HR practices including what happens in people analytics. At the moment it is almost used too much as a silver bullet to solve problems and then when it doesn't solve problems, people then think of another initiative to invest in but we need to build the capability and demonstrate what works and what can work in the future if we're to see that investment to continue.

My fear is that we see significant investment up front. There's a pet project or as a pilot project. But then organisations don't follow through and embed those skills and capabilities and technologies into practice and my fear is that becomes almost faddish because you see that investment peaking and troughing and what we need to see is continued investment in analytics practice both on the side of the business, but also from the side of practitioners investing in their own skills and capabilities through training and development.

So I think it's at a very interesting phase, I think where we could see analytics really becoming mainstream. Where we see organisations really get behind it and invest in it over the long term.

David Green: Yeah, I think it's actually creating the culture. The data-driven culture is absolutely essential if you want to create a long term sustainability.

So the one takeaway, or one of the many takeaways from that is that this misnomer that the CIPD isn't doing anything around the curriculum around analytics is wrong.

Ed Houghton: Oh completely wrong. We see it as core to what we see the future of HR looking like and we see it core to what we see practitioners doing in the future. So for the profession to be professional it has to be evidence-based. To be a respected professional. We have to be evidence-based practitioners and central to that is this idea of using data and analytics alongside these other forms of evidence. We cannot be evidence-based practitioners if we don't use data analytics and so we've recognised it's at the core of what we do as HR practitioners and then in addition to that, because of that we're investing heavily in training and development for HR practitioners. We develop workshops and conferences. We have online courses and webinars. We've got communities of HR practitioners coalescing around data and analytics as what they are doing in their practice. So we see it as a huge space of growth for the profession and it's an emergent very exciting space for practitioners to invest their time in and I often talk to masters students coming into the profession and I say to them if you want to be in one of the fastest moving most exciting parts of the profession go into analytics because that's where you'll get a lot of opportunity. It's a very lucrative part of the profession, you get a lot of opportunity to grow and develop yourself to work internationally and more and more you're being called on by the most senior parts in the business to think about the impact of HR.

So for me. It's very important. We encourage practitioners to see analytics as a very exciting space to be moving into the CIPD is 100% behind that, we see that it's critical for what the future of HR looks like.

David Green: So one of the key focus areas when I talk to HR leaders about people analytics is the subject of trust and ethics, what sort of guidance would you offer in that area?

Ed Houghton: So the CIPD, we are bound by Professional Standards and our ethical standards of practice. So to be a professional you have to adhere to a set of core standards of practice and principles of what you do as an HR practitioner and they're fundamental to what we do as HR practitioners and our members through joining our organisation.

They sign up to apply these principles through their work and it's part of what we see as the respect of the profession and if the business can trust us to make good decisions, then we're able to deliver on those decisions and HR practitioners can go home at night knowing they make the right decisions. Now analytics, people analytics, poses lots of very tough questions to HR practitioners in particular around the boundaries and lines, where the line lies in terms of using data in an appropriate way and so in terms of what we can do and think about to look at people analytics, it's so important that we apply our principles and decision-making, that we're evidence-based, that we're also transparent with the business about how we use people data. And for me, we should be asking the question of whether or not it's appropriate whether or not it's something that's right to do, whether or not we're working with the business to do the right thing. And if we're not if we can't answer those questions, it's the job of the HR practitioner to really stand up and say this isn't appropriate and we've seen from recent corporate governance scandals that there are real issues in organisations having a wealth of data to now use. But not thinking whether or not it's appropriate to use that data and decision-making and the best test for me is go and talk to an employee, share with them the data that you collect about them in the workplace and talk to them about how you intend to use that data and employees if we talk to them and we're open with them and we're transparent with them, they can help us to work out where the line that is appropriate actually lies and it is for us as HR practitioners to define that with the business. And to stand firm when it comes to the potential for crossing those lines and HR practitioners see this everyday in their practice. There are opportunities in the business that the business will want to follow and pursue.

But they may not be appropriate and HR has always been seen as the conscience of the organisation, it is very well-known to non-HR people that you go to HR when you've got a sticky situation that you want to understand the most effective way through it that also protects employees, protecting employees is key.

That's why we have ethical standards and that's why it's so important we use them. In our practice and in particular when we're using people data.

David Green: Yeah, I always say if you can't articulate the benefit to employees then you probably shouldn't do that particular project.

Ed Houghton: Exactly. If there's no clear outcome for an employee... if an employee is going to turn around to you and go wait a minute, what do I get out of this? Then it's probably likely you shouldn't be doing that and there's a level of common sense to that. You are an employee. Would you like that data to be collected about you? Would you like that data to be used in the decision that you're potentially going to be using it for? And if it doesn't make sense to you or if it doesn't make sense to your colleagues or employees then it's likely that it's not the right thing to do.

If you want help in doing that, the CIPD has a wealth of resources around making ethical decisions and we support individuals to navigate those difficult issues in their practice. So we're very well geared to supporting individuals and people analytics is one of those areas where we do see potential risks occurring as well as all the opportunities we've talked about today.

There are obvious risks that we need to be very clear about and being clear about them can help us to mitigate against them in the future.

David Green: Well I know with the advent of new technology coming all the time and emerging data sources, ethics will continue to be a top three talking point I think in the people analytics space but also for HR generally. So moving on to our final question is the one we ask all our guests on the show, and again, it's asking you to peer into your crystal ball a little bit. What do you think the role of HR will be in 2025?

Ed Houghton: So I love this question.

I often think about I hope in 2025 that we have seen people analytics become an established core of practice. That it's the norm for HR functions to be doing people analytics effectively and that the function of HR is seen to be using data well. It's respected it's trusted and it's able to use data effectively.

To me that's the kind of objective of what our new professional map looks at. Is creating the system in 2025 that enables us to talk about the effectiveness of HR tools using data. In terms of the function, the function could look very different. Even by 2025. We've seen the impact of new technologies really radically changing in some industries, the concept of work, the relationship employees have with their workplace.

So I imagine HR as a function will look very different in different organisations. We have to think really clearly about what kind of structure we expect HR to have. Will it be formal or informal? Will it be devolved to the line? Do we expect it to still be a function in of itself? All of these questions about the future of the function we need to start to explore. And we've at the CIPD done a bit of thinking about what we want the future to look like and we see the future as being HR as part of this business ecosystem. Serving all of the different stakeholders as well as employees. Serving all of these stakeholders I've talked about earlier such as investors and regulators, and being a critical part of what a board is thinking about, you know, being top of the agenda, how human capital has been invested in and developed, how people issues are surfacing to the top of what organisations are thinking about.

Ideally we won't have these corporate governance scandals occurring around the workforce. They will still occur. That's life, but in the future, we hope that those issues are less frequent and that when they do occur, organisations are very quick to remedy them and that we are comfortable in the practices that are in those organisations to prevent them happening in the future.

So for me, the HR function in the future is more strategic. It's more aligned to the business, but it still focuses on employee outcomes. It's still there for employees to enable them to be more effective and it's data-driven and evidence-based and if we can be evidence based, really to that level by 2025 I think the profession will be in a very strong position.

David Green: Ed, thank you very much for joining the digital HR leader show. Last thing to say to the listeners is how can people stay in touch with you.

Ed Houghton: You can follow me on ehoughtoncipd on Twitter and you can also find me on LinkedIn and I'm often blogging on the CIPD blog pages as well, or speaking at a conference in the UK, here there and everywhere. So very happy to talk to anybody who's excited to talk about HR analytics.

David Green: Great. Thank you very much Ed.

David GreenComment