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So, What’s the BIG Deal with ‘Big Data’ in HR?

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Big Data text concept on blue background with world map and social icons.

Big Data text concept on blue background with world map and social icons.

Despite growing evidence of the benefits of exploring analytics and heavy support from the research literature, Oracle (2011) reported many businesses still face challenges with understanding their workforce and how to utilize staff most effectively. Luckily, ‘Big Data’ or ‘predictive analytics’ applications in HR have flourished and become recognized as a diagnostic and projective tool for maintaining a competitive advantage. Because of this, HR professionals have coined their version of Big Data—HR Analytics.

So, what’s the BIG deal with HR Analytics? It’s all in the benefits! HR Analytics offer a platform to help organizations overcome workforce-related challenges by providing a data-driven information highway useful for developing strategic planning strategies and initiatives. These types of data allow information about the workforce to be leveraged to improve organizational performance and efficiency (Bersin, 2013). Leveraging of employee data, according to Straz (2015), facilitates enhanced decision making reinforced by better structural insights, retention rates, training initiatives, and hiring processes.

Organizations with HR departments already utilizing analytics as a tool to plan, develop, and retain their workforce, are already one step ahead of the game. If your organization has not considered how HR Analytics could help your company leverage talent and implement strategies supported by Big Data, the EDC team has some good news for you: It’s not too late to start and we can help!

EDC has seasoned consultants who specialize in Big Data applications, workforce analytics, and HR practices. Our specialists are committed to optimizing organizational performance and managing talent. Let us show you the value in HR Analytics and help you reap the benefits of investing in your workforce by using the rich information provided by Big Data.



Bersin, J. (2013, October 7). Big data in human resources: A world of haves and have-nots. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2013/10/07/big-data-in-human-resources-a-world-of-haves-and-have-nots/#402b80c4200f


Oracle. (2011, September). HR analytics: Driving return on human capital investment [PDF document]. Retrieved from www.oracle.com/us/solutions/ent-performance-bi/045039.pdf


Straz, M. (2015, April 6). Why you need to embrace the big data trend in HR. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244326

Learntek. (2017). Importance of Big Data Analytics. Retrieved from http://www.learntek.org/importance-of-big-data-analytics/

Workplaces that Work for both Employees and Employers

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In everything, balance is essential. This is especially true for organizations and workplaces. A workplace with employees who feel they have balance between their work and their personal lives is likely to be a healthy and happy one. Organizations with employees who perceive having a good balance between work and personal lives are likely to also report feeling satisfied with their jobs, engaged, and committed to the organization. Employees who feel satisfied and committed are more likely to have better performance, lower turnover, miss fewer days of work, be more motivated, engaged in organizational citizenship behaviors, and less likely to partake in counterproductive behaviors (Aamodt, 2016).  Therefore, the balance between work and life is important for a company’s bottom line. A survey by SHRM in 2002 showed 70 percent of employees reported an unhealthy balance between their work and personal lives, ranking family as the most important priority in their lives (Rife & Hall, 2015). More than ever, the evidence is apparent of a need for organizations to improve on the balance of the work and personal lives of employees.

To obtain a healthy and balanced workplace, many factors need to be considered from various aspects of the organization. The balance needs to be seen in management and supervisors, environment, policies and procedures, payroll, benefits, training, social responsibility, and health and wellness programs to name a few (Workplaces that work, n.d.).

With the growing number of workers caring about work/life balance, especially Millennials who are predicted to comprise half the workforce by 2020, it’s vital to evaluate and update the organization in ways to effectively help employees obtain the satisfaction of work/life balance while keeping the company goals in mind. Successfully doing this can be a difficult and slow process. However, here are some ways your company can increase employee work/life balance. While many different types of people desire a balance between work and personal life, it is important when implementing these applications, they should be broad enough to meet the needs of everyone, including single employees, couples without children, as well as parents (Rife & Hall, 2015).

So, how can organizations help employees with work/life balance? There are 4 areas to consider Culture, Benefits, Dependent Care, and Health and Wellness Programs.

  1. Culture

Organizational culture starts from the top down. Executives and managers have to lead by example providing the organizational support needed. Any policies and procedures established to create margin between employees’ work and family lives should be followed and enforced, including those promoting job-satisfaction.  If your company wants to prevent its employees from responding to emails after 7 p.m., it’s important for managers to encourage employees to avoid responding after 7 pm and for those managers to follow that same rule modeling the way. Even if the rule is set in place, but managers do not follow it, employees will feel inclined or even required to check and respond to emails after work hours, which will eventually lead to work-to-family spillover.

Work hours and job design should be evaluated and any necessary changes made where warranted. Whether it’s allowing flexible hours, telecommuting, or job sharing, there are many things that can be done to improve work-life balance.

Organizational culture is hard to change and it can be a slow process; however it is one of the most important things for job-satisfaction. Any negative norms should be eliminated. Some of these negative norms include requiring everyone to stay until 6 p.m. even if all of their work for the day is completed and stressful environments that are demanding and lacking in recognition or positive feedback.

  1. Benefits

Incentives and benefits encouraging work and non-work domains are very important, especially in attracting and retaining great employees. Giving vacation and requiring employees to take a certain amount per year is just one very common incentive. Benefits are very vast and varying. It is important to have the typical health benefits such as affordable insurance plan options and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), but offering some of the atypical ones as well can make the difference. Some of these include health and wellness programs including fitness programs at low or no cost, dependent care options, education and training programs available to everyone, reward and recognition programs, and stress management assistance.

  1. Dependent Care

Approximately 20 percent of all paid employees are women with at least one child under 12 years of age at home, leading parents to be more likely to feel the stress of the imbalance of work and life (Workplaces that work, n.d.). Some dependent care options include, on-site dependent care, seasonal childcare programs (for when others are closed), financial assistance, referral information for discounted care, and offering personal days (instead of having to use sick or vacation time).

  1. Health and Wellness Programs

The health of a company’s employees is one of the most important factors. Unhealthy employees can be costly in a variety of ways. Some ways an organization can encourage employee health and wellness are offering fitness programs through on-site workshops and classes and gym membership assistance; providing convenient and affordable clinics, health assessments, and vaccinations; encouraging exercise during lunch hours; and offering smoke cessation incentive programs, secure bicycle parking, affordable, healthy lunch options, among many other things (Workplaces that work, n.d.). Perhaps encouraging employees to start a health club will lead to more creative options and encourage other employees to get involved and have fun in the meantime.

While every organization and its employees are different, to have happy and satisfied employees is vital to successful business practices. Therefore, it’s important to implement various strategies that facilitate employee work/life balance. Some implementations may work for some organizations but not others. It’s important to assess your organizational needs and culture as well as employees in determining the best solutions. The more an organization can do to promote happier and healthier employees, the more of an asset they will be and the less of an opportunity for potential adverse effects.


Aamodt, M. G. (2016). Industrial/organizational psychology, an applied approach. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning

Rife, A. & Hall, R. (2015). Work-life balance. Bowling Green, OH. Retrieved from: http://www.siop.org/WhitePapers/WorkLifeBalance.pdf

Workplaces that work. (n.d.). hrcouncil.ca. Retrieved from: http://hrcouncil.ca/hr-toolkit/workplaces-health-safety.cfm

Radhika, C. (2017). Work-life balance. Retrieved from: http://radhikacruz.com/work-life-balance/

People Analytics: The New Frontier

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people analytics

As Human Resources (HR) continue to look for ways to gain a seat at the table and be seen as strategic partners instead of administrators, the demand for people analytics opens up such opportunities. According to an article from the Deloitte University Press (2016), the interest in HR’s capabilities for providing organizational decision-makers with analytics is growing aggressively. Only 24% of companies, in 2015, felt ready or just about ready to take on people analytics, that number jumped to 32% in beginning of 2016. In addition, 77% of organizations believe people analytics is important.

What does People Analytics really mean and how will it contribute to the overall growth of a business?

People Analytics is about using people-related data to solve business problems and drive new strategic business decisions. The key here, will be to start small and build upon those analytics. Here are a few tips on getting started:

  1. Low hanging fruit. Take a look around the organization and ask: What business problem can I solve with people data? Some of the common challenges here are around hiring the right people, turnover, performance issues, etc. The key will be to listen to the business leaders and look for problems that seem to come up around people on a more consistent basis.
  2. Data quality and integrity. Once the problem is identified, and before analyzing the data, you’ll need to evaluate the data gathered for accuracy and validity. You will need quality, consistently inputted data. For example, when looking at turnover, ensure job titles or classifications are accurate. If there are 2 people doing the same job at the same job level, but classified differently within the system, it will be difficult to get accurate turnover data per job.
  3. Delivering the information. Once the data’s integrity is evaluated and determined, analyze it and present the findings in palatable way for your intended audience. For example, in continuing with the turnover example, when analyzing turnover for various jobs, you notice there is an unusually high turnover rate for one department. In delivering this information, consider your audience and how they would potentially respond to the situation. In keeping your audience in mind, paint a clear picture on how this data impacts the business. Most often, giving people the raw data, even in percentage form, will not create a call to action. Rather, delivering the data feedback with more detail on what it means, how it impacts the overall business operations and cost, key decision-makers will be more likely to listen, remember, and act on suggested improvements.

Getting started in People Analytics doesn’t have to be a daunting task. The tips here are great starting points on getting HR noticed. It is imperative to remember to keep business needs first and tie the people analytics back to the business vision and strategies. This will ensure HR gets noticed and gains a seat at the table. It’s very beneficial for organizations to partner with HR and it is time to show business leaders why.


Bersin, J., Collins, L., Mallon, J., Moir, J., Straub, R. (2016). People analytics: Gaining speed. Retrieved from Deloitte University Press: https://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/focus/human-capital-trends/2016/people-analytics-in-hr-analytics-teams.html

Collins, M. (2013). Change your company with better HR analytics. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2013/12/change-your-company-with-better-hr-analytics

Galer, S. (2016). People analytics in HR: A business boon or bust? Retrieved from http://www.digitalistmag.com/future-of-work/2016/09/05/people-analytics-in-hr-boon-or-bust-04425486

How to Become a Strategic HR Department with a Seat at the Table: Stop Asking and Start Doing

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HR seat at table

Human Resources (HR) Departments have been asking and looking for ways to get a seat at the table for some years now. However, in a recent survey (HR.BLR.com 2015), only 33.3% of survey respondents say HR is viewed as a strategic partner by management teams. So, how does an HR Department increase these results?

Here are 5 actionable ways to help your HR Department become a Strategic Business Partner:

  1. Start with taking a more active role in understanding the business. If the different business units don’t see that HR understands their everyday challenges and goals, they are less likely to come to HR for ideas.

Here are some things you can start doing today to learn more about the business:

  • Learn about industry specific trends.
  • Meet with department leaders on a regular basis to learn more about individual department needs, challenges, and what will help make the department successful.
  • Attend department meetings consistently, not only when it’s convenient.


  1. Provide solutions that are in the company’s best interest. As HR begins to understand the challenges and goals of the business and its departments, HR will be better equipped to provide solutions that contribute to the company’s success. In turn, the business will respond positively and look for more ways for HR to contribute to their success.


  1. Simplify and streamline HR practices and deliver. HR in the past was mostly about creating policies and procedures to keep businesses safe. However, some of these policies and procedures can lead to what others see as red tape that slows down other business practices. Think about it… Just because things have been done a certain way in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t change in the present or the future.

In keeping an open mind, here are some ways HR teams can learn to simplify and streamline their processes:

  • Speak with different department leaders to learn what various HR policies and procedures may be hindering the department’s performance.
  • Create a plan to look for ways to tackle the most common issues that come up
  • Deliver on your promises by creating service level agreements to ensure everyone is on the same page and know what to expect.


  1. Know your numbers. It has become increasing more important for HR teams to measure the impact of their decisions. After all, how is HR to prove their impact on the business if they don’t know the results of their efforts? Keep in mind, when measuring impact, it is important to make sure the HR analytics tie back to the overall business strategies and not just to the individual initiatives the HR Department is working on.


  1. Look for ways to incorporate technology. Technology is pretty much in everything we do today. It aids in streamlining and creating more efficient business processes. There is now a multitude of options of HR specific software to help with everything from recruiting and hiring, delivering information to people in different locations, and reporting. When looking at ways HR can improve its practices and be viewed as strategic partner, it is imperative to leverage technology.

Remember, that change takes time especially when it involves changing people’s thoughts and perceptions, so persistence and consistency here is key to becoming successful. Incorporating these 5 actionable ways will go a long way in helping your HR Department develop more credibility and in turn, become a more Strategic Business Partner.



HR.BLR.com. (2015). Survey: 1 in 3 management teams view HR as a strategic partner. Retrieved from http://hr.blr.com/HR-news/HR-Administration/HR-Strategy/Management-teams-view-HR-strategic-partner/

Njemanze, I. (2016). What Does Being a Strategic HR Business Partner Look Like in Practice?. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1109&context=student

Andersen, E. (2013).  4 Ways To Become A Strategic Business Partner (And Why You Should Want To). Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2013/09/06/4-ways-to-become-a-strategic-business-partner-and-why-you-should-want-to/#7802869123c1

Ibarra, P. (2008). Get Up, Get Out, Get On It: How Human Resources Can Become a Strategic Partner. Retrieved from http://webapps.icma.org/pm/9001/public/pmplus1.cfm?title=Get%20Up%2C%20Get%20Out%2C%20Get%20On%20It%3A%20How%20Human%20Resources%20Can%20Become%20a%20Strategic%20Partner&subtitle=&author=Patrick%20Ibarra

Cole, K. (2016). Don’t confuse having a seat at the table with having a voice. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dont-confuse-having-seat-table-voice-kat-cole

Onboarding – Simple Ways for Getting Your New Employee up to Speed Quickly and Efficiently

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Why is this important?

            The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced in a release on September 22, 2016, as of January 2016, the median number of years a person has been with his/her current employer is 4.2 years, which is down from 4.6 years reported for January 2014. The median tenure is even worse for those within the age range of 24-34 being at 2.8 years in January. Given these trends and where they’ll continue to go, it’s even more important today than ever for organizations to have structured or at least semi-structured and efficient onboarding processes. These processes can lead to getting employees acclimated and performing up to 2 months faster (Society for Human Resources Management 2010).

Simple Ways for Getting Your New Employee up to Speed Quickly and Efficiently

Preparing before the new hire starts. Let’s start with a few simple tips we can implement to provide an immediate impact:

  • Document processes – Understand the length of time it takes to get a new computer, phone, and/or email set up; access to computer systems requests, etc.
  • Create a play book – All employees can take a role in this; depending on the department and projects, it’s always a great idea to document knowledge employees have learned along the way to make their jobs easier and pass that on new employees.
  • Create a performance expectations plan – Writing down the expectations you have for the new hire to accomplish, clearly and concisely; detailing when to follow up, ensuring the new hire is on track. 90-days is a good length of time to start with, depending on the complexity of the job.

First day impressions matter. Here are a few tips to ensure your new employee feels welcomed confirming he or she made the right decision to join your company:

  • Set aside time in the morning to meet with the manager or someone from the team to show the person around the office and help him/her get set up on the computer or with particular IT programs he/she may be using (if applicable).
  • Have a team lunch to have the new hire get to know the team and vice versa in an informal setting.
  • Set aside time during the day for the manager to go over the performance expectations plan and set up dates for follow up.
  • Set up a mentor-mentee relationship between a senior member of the team or the company and the new employee. This way the new employee will have access to someone he/she can go to with questions/to seek advice if the manager is unavailable.

In the end, having an onboarding program will lead to improved job satisfaction, higher performance levels, lower stress, lower turnover (Society for Human Resources Management 2010) for employees, and ultimately lower turnover costs for employers.



Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016). Employee tenure summary. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.nr0.htm

Bauer, Tayla N. Ph.D (2010). Onboarding new employees: Maximizing success. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/about/foundation/products/documents/onboarding%20epg-%20final.pdf

Andriotis, N. (2016). All aboard the eLearning train: Onboarding with eFrontPro. Retrieved from https://www.efrontlearning.com/blog/2016/07/onboarding-with-efrontpro.html