You’re an HR professional, and your company has a turnover problem. How do you tell your team of C-level executives? Here are two options:

  • “I’ve reviewed our churn rate over the past five years, and it’s risen every year. In 2014, about 8% of our workers left within six months, and in 2019, we’re seeing turnover of about 15%. We need to get a handle on this.”
  • “Our turnover rate has nearly doubled in the past five years. When I surveyed those who gave notice, about 30 percent—one in three—said they were taking jobs with our two key competitors. Those businesses pay about 20 percent more than we do, and they offer more flexible schedules, which appeals to younger workers.”

Both choices share bad news that your company’s leaders need to know. But only the second option provides the rich context those executives must have if they want to make thoughtful, solutions-oriented corrections.

Time Get Comfortable With Analytics

If there’s only one thing you do in the next 12 months of your HR career, I challenge you to shift how you view your role. Instead of being satisfied to merely provide data, charts, graphs and other people metrics, commit to transforming yourself into an analytics interpreter who deploys data to answer business questions.

You’re probably already adept at gathering and presenting statistics because that’s an integral part of HR’s role. You know how to answer basic but essential questions such as “How many people did we lose last year?” and “What are the turnover trends for the past five years?”

The analyst approach goes far deeper. To embrace this mindset, approach a business problem and your data with a “why” question. Asking “Why are we seeing so much churn?” positions you to mine your data for deeper insights. This perspective helps you seek root causes, explanations and differences. Instead of merely collecting and aggregating data, you’re gleaning insights that will point you towards strategic recommendations. (Note that I’m not suggesting you gloss over the data-collection and analysis aspects of people analytics. Conclusions that aren’t backed up by metrics are just guesses and hunches.)

One of the most valuable skills an HR professional can bring to the board room is her ability to gather human analytics data, distill the critical material and curate it so her fellow executive team can leverage it to make smart, strategic decisions.

If you commit to transition from metrics-reporter to HR data interpreter, you’ll transform your role, expand your potential and perhaps even open up your career to opportunities you hadn’t previously noticed. You’ll blossom into a problem-solver and a strategic thinker. You’ll analyze your data and drill down on pain points—and you’ll bring both the problem and the solution to C-level leaders who will respect and value your input.