Words to Live By

15 Apr

“I don’t know what I need to know.”

It’s a funny little sentence, but it’s amazing how often I hear it. Especially with the proliferation of business intelligence (BI) software solutions, today’s workers have greater and greater abilities to analyze their data – if only they knew what they were looking for.

Being in the BI business myself, I am often asked questions such as “what are some of the key things that people want to monitor in their HRMS systems?”. Having some standard answers such as “employee absenteeism”, “certifications that are about to expire”, and “changes to an employee’s benefits” are helpful – but only to a certain degree. What an HRMS staffer really wants to ask me is “what are the key things within our particular HR organization that we should be monitoring for?”.

But of course since I don’t know the detailed workings of their HR organization and its underlying processes, that’s a question that never gets asked of me.

But it should.

Because I can answer it.

Despite the fact that I may never have stepped foot (or even a “virtual foot”) into any one specific HR organization, I can help any HR organization’s staff identify what kinds of critical activities they need to monitor for and respond to. And that’s because I’m able to identify the key words and phrases that get used by an organization’s HR staffers when they’re looking for “what they need to know.”

There are, in fact, eight “types” of critically important HR-related business conditions that reveal themselves in the everyday conversations that you hear around your office. These eight “types” of HR-related business conditions have very specific words that accompany them, and if you train yourself to listen for these words, you’ll have an immediate jump on identifying what it is “you need to know.”

The eight conditions – and the corresponding words you need to listen for – are:

Date-Sensitive Conditions.  You’ll hear words such as “upcoming”, “today”, “tomorrow”, “next week”, “ends”, “expiring”, and “missed”. (E.g., benefit enrollment period ends this Friday)

Approaching Thresholds.  Typically expressed using “nearing”, “more than”, “less than”, “above”, “below”, “close to”, and “over”. (E.g., an employee who is nearing 24 hours of absenteeism this month)

Inactivity.  Almost always is heard using the phrase “has not” or “is not” and indicates something that should have happened but hasn’t. (E.g., a staffer who has not taken any training in the last 12 months)

Exceptions to Normal Business.  You’ll hear the words “over” or “under” as well as the word “too” as in “too many”, “too few”, “too much”, or “too little”. (E.g., an employee who has failed too many drug tests)

“Bad Data” Conditions.  Most commonly identified by the words “missing”, “erroneous”, “invalid”, “duplicate”, or “incomplete”. (E.g., an employee record which is missing their home phone number)

Trend Analysis.  Usually this occurs in phrases such as “compared with”, “is increasing”, “is decreasing”, or “has stopped”. (E.g., monthly overtime hours is increasing)

Inconsistent Data.  Often heard in phrases such as “doesn’t make sense” or “doesn’t go together”, and in the statement “that’s not right”. (E.g., an employee signed-up for two training classes at the same time)

Changes to Sensitive Data.  This condition is often identified by the initial words “We need to know when  someone changes . . . “. (E.g., a change made to an employee’s 401k contributions)

So . . . before you decide to evaluate any reporting, business intelligence, or data monitoring & response solutions, take a few minutes to think back on your daily HR business activities and to the conversations that you’ve had with your HR colleagues and management. Or – just start listening to those conversations a little more carefully and take note of when the above words and phrases appear.

After all, once you identify what HR conditions and activities you need to know about, you can better identify the prospective software solutions that will keep you “in the know”.

If you’re interested in learning about how you can more effectively monitor your HR data, visit the Sage HRMS Alerts and Workflow by Vineyardsoft webpage. While you’re there don’t forget to register for the webcast The Data Driven HR Organization: How to Achieve It and How to Benefit From It.

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