SAS Article #2 – HR & Data

19 April 2018 | by Asset Resourcing

Wanted: HR Managers with the Interpersonal Skills of Florence Nightingale and the Statistical, Analytical Brain of Sherlock Holmes.

So says Keith Nicholls, Director of Global HRIS at Universal Weather & Aviation, Inc., a Texas-based company providing products and services for the aviation industry.

It’s nothing to do with the US-obsession for standout 19th century British figures per se, rather more and more businesses including UWA are looking for people who ‘understand how to pull data, how to use business intelligence tools, how to create dashboards.’ They want people who can discover ‘what’s behind the numbers’.

There are lots of ‘new’ skills that forward-thinking businesses are on the hunt for, mainly based around tech and foreign languages, but now, HR managers are revising job descriptions to include analytical abilities. For those who can build a dashboard and come up with new ways to parse data, the jobs are there, and they’re very well paid.

It’s worth noting that there is a difference between top-end programmers and data scientists and those with analytics and IT skills and the latter have become collectively known as human resource information systems (HRIS) employees. It’s about taking data from statistical analysis software (SAS), creating fresh insights and identifying and predicting trends using data. As we said last month, a very simplistic example would be that of a supermarket analysing buying data and trends to determine where on the shelves to place top-selling products for maximum exposure and ergo, financial reward.

More and more, employers are specifically asking for people with statistical analysis skills but crucially, so says (quite randomly) Jason Romero, Assistant Superintendent of HR for the Del Mar Union School District in San Diego, ‘We’re not just looking for somebody that can manipulate analytics; we want somebody that can do something with it. People who can interpret that data.’

One of the key drivers of this need for creatively analytical brains is the adoption of cloud-based systems. They deliver data faster and in a more granular fashion than ever before and that data needs to be crunched.

As a prime example, tech careers site dice.com ran a study of HRIS roles on their website and of the total of 65,000 jobs on the site, only around 100 were looking for HR-specific tech skills. The keywords to look out for are business analysts, technical leads and HRIS reporting analysts and they said after the study that ‘Many [HRIS jobs] mention statistical analysis, experience [in] project management and business analysis.’

Demand for SAS skills is only going in one direction. Tony DiRomualdo, Senior Director of the HR Advisory Program at management consulting firm The Hackett Group suggests that due to the increased adoption of cloud technology, demand is shifting from pure tech skills to a blend of tech and analytical skills.

‘Nearly 75% of all HR organisations have some type of cloud-based system in place and cloud systems are predominant in 25% of HR departments, [therefore] there is much more of an emphasis and importance on analytics. Firms need people who are comfortable with being able to take data and draw insights from that data.’

Larry Duong, HRIS Manager at Canadian-based mining company Kinross Gold Corp. says that these skills need to be front and centre of a company’s HR department and Bill Neese, VP of Talent Acquisition at payroll and HR systems vendor Paycor agrees.

‘There’s no question in my mind we’ve got to hire these technical skills within the HR department’ said Neese. ‘Technical people working in HR will have the subject matter expertise that’s needed to identify additional areas of opportunities on products.’

So what skills does he refer to:

The list is long and ever-evolving but for starters…

  • Cloud technology
  • Data governance
  • Statistical analysis
  • Vendor management
  • Strategic planning
  • Project management
  • Skills implementation and team building

Old-school HR still has its place, but new-school HR is slowly becoming the school bully…

For more information about SAS recruitment, make sure you call us today. A key job goes live at lunchtime and we’ll have 50 applications by 5pm. The market is that competitive.

Call Chris Morris on 01582 742 682 or email chris.morris@assetresourcing.com today.


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