I've always been a numbers person. I think there's much we can learn from looking at data and statistics. And it's never too late to embrace the numbers. In fact, Thomas Otter, vice president of research at Gartner Research coined the phrase "statistically aware HR" during his session on workforce analytics at the Ultimate Software Connections conference and I believe it's a perfect way to approach data.
When we think about it, we have tons of data about our workforce right at our fingertips. And how much of it are we actually using? When we're faced with a problem, is the first question...let's run some reports and see what the data tells us? I'm sure some companies are doing it. But Otter points to research that indicates "65% of organizations will fail to exploit workforce analytics because of a lack of skilled resources."
So regardless of our current skill level, here are 4 things you can do to become more statistically aware:
1. Invest in learning statistical skills. Take a class, read a book or blog. Find a way to learn more about the subject. Example: During Otter's session, I learned about the Bradford Factor which says there's a difference in being absent for 7 days and being absent 7 times for one day. This data is important because it can impact workplace productivity.
2. Start with a small problem. Now is not the time to take on more than you can handle. Remember to consider operational factors in your calculations. And don't promise numbers you can't deliver!
3. Leverage external data. Think about the partners you are working with who can provide data. Also leverage applications your employees are using, such as LinkedIn. With the popularity of the platform, make sure your organization is using the available data about your industry and competitive set.
4. Learn from history and others. Collect historical data and use it as a test of what actually happened. That can offer insight into data analysis skills. Also, tap into the expertise around your company. For instance, work with marketing professionals who have become very knowledgeable about measuring brand awareness.
Like most skills, the more we work at something, the better we get at it. Once your analysis is complete, take action based upon your findings. Plan to evaluate the results at pre-determined milestones and adjust accordingly. Soon, you too will become one of the "statistically aware".