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An Interview with Achmea’s Senior Advisor HR Analytics

By: Ralf Bovers

Achmea and Crunchr Purple Overlay

Financial services group Achmea decided in 2014 to invest in HR Metrics & Analytics capabilities, and appointed Ivo Vink to take the lead. His 6-strong team developed from improving data quality and building momentum to prioritizing and answering research questions. Ivo is now ready to take the next step.

A man who wrote his PhD-thesis titled Manipulation and Read-Out of Spins in Quantum Dots, does not seem the most likely advisor to the HR-function in a major financial institution. In the field of data analytics for application in HR a technical background is not exceptional. In Ivo Vink’s team, as elsewhere, backgrounds in physics, mathematics, actuarial science and econometrics are common.

“A different perspective can be really useful to help our principals within the organization to discover to the question behind the question, and to identify the root of the issue they want to address. But it isn’t a precondition: a few members of my team come from an HR-background and have developed the necessary data analytics skills. That’s an example worth following.”

To what extent is HR metrics & analytics integrated in the Achmea organization?

We have come a long way from the training sessions we started out with for our HR business partners, advertising the data-driven approach we can support. It took time to translate an understanding of the services we can provide into specific research questions. But once the pertinent questions are formulated and useful insight is gained, the wheel starts spinning faster and faster. We have come to the point where we have to be selective in accepting research requests, weighing the effort required and added value to be gained.

The decision for a fact-based approach that comes from the top, has been essential to the acceptance in the organization. Our group HR director is a major sponsor and HR analytics is supported by the HR leadership in all divisions. The executive board gives positive feedback and the logo of HR metrics & analytics has become a stamp of approval.

We don’t have to go out to explain our role. HR professionals come to us. We have started to host internships in our HR Metrics & Analytics team. We want to be a breeding place for talent in HR analytics, making it an integral part of the HR function.

What are the hot topics in your workflow?

We put a lot of effort into recruitment, not surprisingly considering the scarcity in the labor market. Metrics & Analytics can help to identify the effective recruitment channels for different target groups and get an insight in the effectiveness of our efforts. Predictive analytics can help to optimize the recruitment process.

Effective employability is also the subject of many questions that come up. How can we provide a career perspective that motivates and engages employees? We need to get a grip on what constitutes a good progression in jobs and competencies.

Lately, we are doing a lot of work on the development of competencies. To gain insight into the competencies we need to win or develop, we started at one division by making an inventory assessment of what we currently have in house.

Can you handle more work now that your data and work processes are in order?

Data quality and a solid IT infrastructure are preconditions to workforce analytics. So yes, once you have addressed those you can become more productive. But you’re never done with data. New research questions regularly require data that you didn’t realize you were missing.

When we got into logical career paths in our search for effective employability, we realized that we didn’t register our employees training background. Training was addressed in the recruitment process, but the data simply weren’t saved. The same goes for the external functions employees move on to when they resign. Another example is the net promotor scores: sometimes the way they are provided prevents us to relate these scores to the output of individual employees. This hampers us to understand the linkage to quality of service.

We are constantly searching for additional data points. Especially as our field of operations is broadening. HR Metrics & Analytics is not an isolated field of expertise, but part of the business analytics at Achmea. We are getting involved in all questions with an employee component, cooperation with business analysts in other fields at the request of the board or operational management.’

Time to expand?

“We can still free-up capacity by better prioritizing our efforts. But sooner rather than later we will come to the point where it pays off to add new members to the team.”

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