Last week I had a chance to jump on the DriveThruHR podcast and speak with Mike Vandervort, a good friend and host of the show. I was a last minute stand in, so the title of the show has someone else’s name on it. Don’t be confused, because in the 30-minute interview I talk about what life is like as an analyst, what my favorite thing to do is in my daily work at Brandon Hall Group, and how the transition has been over the past 12-18 months.

I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think. The show is posted here or you can listen in the embedded player below.

the life of an HR analystI’ve been working as an HR analyst for about a year now. Several of my friends, both in HR and out, have asked me lately what my days look like. I wanted to take a moment to highlight what it is and what it is not. I’ll also say that this is my experience. It’s certainly different for different people at different organizations. Did I mention it’s different? :-)

Even my coworkers that do very similar work as talent management analysts, learning analysts, and workforce management analysts have different schedules, projects, etc. I know there aren’t a significant number of HR analyst jobs out there, but for those that might be interested, this is a good peek behind the curtain.

A sample HR analyst job description

First of all, the things I spend most of my time on are briefings, research, writing, and editing. I publish all of the blogs and case studies, which is fun to get to see the full spectrum of what we do. Each day is different, of course, and I break down some of those aspects below.

Little man is still not sleeping through the night consistently yet, so when he wakes up at 4:30 I just get to work after feeding him.

  • Up between 4:30 and 5:30, work to 6:15 on email and any high priority work. This is the time to plan my day.
  • 6:15-7:30 Kids! Family! Craziness! I help get Melanie and the kids out the door, then I drop off little man at the sitter’s before heading back home to jump into the workday full speed.
  • 7:30-10:00 Typically catch up on email, work on case studies, editing briefing reports, or writing. Most of our internal company meetings are in the morning as well.
  • 10:00-10:30 Break! I’ll usually do something to break up my day, whether it’s calling a friend, squeezing in a quick workout, or going for a run to clear my head. I can’t work in long blocks without losing focus. Also, while I’m working out I often have some of my best ideas for writing or solving problems I’m working on, so this is critical to me being productive long term.
  • 11:00-11:30 Eat lunch. While I eat I’ll do some reading and research to catch up on what’s going on in the industry. I sometimes use this space to reply to emails and plan my calendar for the next few days to be prepared for any big meetings, etc.
  • 11:30-2:00 Back to work. I like to use my time after lunch when I’m typically at my “low” for creativity and focus to do things like making contact with HR pros to set up briefings and trying to work on any outstanding emails.
  • 2:00-4:30 By this time I’m past the midday “slump” and am in prime gear to do some writing. This is when I typically create marketing copy, write my Brandon Hall Group blog posts, and do any “major” editing work that requires significant brainpower.
  • Melanie usually gets home with the kids between 4:00 and 5:00 and that signals the end of the workday for me. There are some nights where I pick back up again around 8:30-9:30 if I have something pressing, my wife has to grade papers or do lesson plans, and all the kids are in bed.

Now, I know that’s just an average, so here is a breakdown of some of the actual work I get to do. As you might expect, necessary skills for an HR analyst are heavily weighted toward writing, editing, research, and data analysis.

  • Meetings: internal meetings average about 30-60 minutes per day, spanning topics like research, marketing, and technology.
  • Briefings: I spend time talking with HR leaders to learn what’s going on in their world and to stay plugged in. This is one of my favorite parts of my role. And talking shop with HR pros and calling it work just seems unfair. :-) I also host all of our vendor briefings. And while sometimes it’s a chore to fit them in, I have always been a bit of a technology nerd, so finding out what is the latest and greatest in learning, recruiting, or HR is a lot of fun.
  • Case studies: Ever wonder how Hilton runs its learning program or how multimillion dollar security firms hire their staff? I did, too. And now I know, because I get to publish case studies from those companies that describe exactly how they approached the problems and solved them. Here’s a recent blog post on the Brandon Hall Group blog where I talk about them.
  • Blogging: I get to blog! It’s a blast. As you can tell I love the blogging format, so this is just one more opportunity to share my thoughts. More importantly, I love the conversations it opens up to talk about what others are interested in–I certainly don’t have all of the answers. I have about 20 drafts in varying stages right now (some of which I’ll probably never actually write, funny enough) on a variety of topics, from recruitment marketing to technology selection to metrics and more.
  • Research webinars: this year I picked up a new role and am hosting our research webinars with various analysts on the team. It’s a chance to share the latest and greatest research, and I like the opportunity to get in front of our great audience over there. (info on those webinars, if you’re interested)
  • Attending events: a minority of my time is spent traveling and attending events. With a 5 month old at home this is something I’m thankful for. I do love getting to go to great events like the HR Technology Conference and other vendor-focused ones, but I don’t get out very much. I have a total of about 4-5 trips this year at my last count. As the kids get a bit older I expect to do more of this but not a crazy amount.
  • Speaking: I speak occasionally and these are honestly the best types of events for me. I like getting to wear multiple hats. I’ll actually be presenting at SHRM this summer in Las Vegas (anyone else going? I’d love to meet you!) and the Alabama SHRM conference as well. Again, I don’t put in many applications for speaking because I don’t travel a significant amount, but I always enjoy the opportunity. When I speak I usually spend anywhere from 5-10 hours gathering information, developing slides, etc.
  • Informal research: I am a Feedly fiend. I have it open any time I have 5-10 minutes to spare, because I’m always reading other blogs to gather insights and information. It’s amazing how often this inspires me to write something myself, even if the blog I’m reading is focused on design, marketing, or travel. At least half of those drafts I mentioned above started when I read a blog post or news article somewhere else.

5 surprising things about working from home as an HR analyst

This whole “working from home” thing is a bit of what I expected, but it’s also different in other ways. Here are five things I didn’t expect:

  1. Nobody seems to understand that in some ways working from home is harder than working in an office. None of your friends asks to “swing by” or if you can do an errand for them when you work in an office setting. Thankfully that was short-lived, but it happens.
  2. It can be hard to “turn off.” When I worked in an office I had the drive home to decouple from work and shift gears. Now if the family gets home and I’m in the middle of writing or editing I have to suddenly shut everything off mentally and it can be tough to do that.
  3. I have more time. I’m not spending 2+ hours driving daily, and that means I can get more accomplished instead of commuting, getting to work after spending almost an hour in traffic, trying to dodge “that” talkative coworker, etc.
  4. I have less time. :-) I feel like with the additional time I can do more things and take on more tasks, even when it’s not really possible. That can be tough to deal with at times because I like to run in a hundred directions at once.
  5. Some people warned me that I would be “bored” or that I would miss working with people. While I do miss some face to face interactions with friends, I am actually well-suited to working remotely and solo. I can spend all day without turning on the radio, TV, or anything else. The days when I don’t have calls scheduled I can go for up to 9 hours without saying or hearing a single word, which is pretty peaceful. This certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s something I think is very interesting to know. I’m a natural introvert and talking a lot and interacting with people can be draining for me at times.

HR analyst salary information

Information about a human resources analyst salary is all over the map. I think that’s due in part to the fact that some companies are loose in defining what an analyst is/does, so that means the job duties can range (and pay naturally follows). Here are a few resources for details on what an HR analyst makes. As you’ll see, it can vary wildly.

Human resource analyst job openings

As I said above, the type of analyst work I’m doing is reserved typically for very large companies, vendors, or research/consulting firms. Other names for this type of role (if you’re searching for an HR analyst position) that could be helpful:

  • human resources analyst
  • talent management analyst
  • talent acquisition analyst
  • learning analyst
  • workforce management analyst
  • principal analyst
  • senior analyst
  • associate analyst
  • business analyst
  • HCM analyst
  • human resource analyst

So, what else do you want to know, whether it’s about this whole “working from home” or the HR analyst role? I’d love to answer questions if you have any!

I spent last week at the Brandon Hall Group Excellence Conference, and it was an incredible event. Yes, I’d say that even if I wasn’t working for Brandon Hall Group. :-) I wanted to take time today to share a brief summary so you can get a sense of what was discussed, since most of you couldn’t be there.

I wrote about several sessions from the conference, and you can find notes and links to the full articles below. I’ll be sharing more over the next week–I’m still processing the conversations, sessions, and comments and trying to make sense of it all in the midst of getting over sleep deprivation. :-)

Talent is a Business Area, Not an HR Area

The first session I sat in on was the integrated talent management workshop. Attendees learned how to build a talent management strategy and some of the key pieces to include based on our research. For example, the top two talent concerns for businesses today:

Sustaining employee engagement (30%)
Developing high potential leaders and succession management (27%)

Read moreTalent Management is a Business Function

Developing Leaders Requires Effort

My favorite session on day two was a leadership development panel. I liked it because it wasn’t focused on selling me the idea of leadership development–it instead helped to offer insights into how to actually do it. As a practitioner I always had these kinds of questions:

  • What does leadership development look like?
  • How do we measure it?
  • How do we know if it’s working?
  • What should a program include?

Read more: Leadership Development Panel Insights

Getting Your Hands Dirty Unconference Session

The last session of the event, and one that I co-led with Trish McFarlane, was an unconference session. It worked out well because we had a group large enough to spur some great discussion but small enough to give each person an opportunity to share their input. We discussed learning challenges, talent issues, and more. I hope to write a full follow up post just to that session in the next week or two, because I want to highlight the unconference format and how you can use it in your daily work (hint: not your average boring meeting).

One of the Best Things, As Usual

One of the best parts of the event was the level of personal connection with attendees, sponsors, etc. I always love coming away from these events with new friends, and this was certainly no different. I also ran across an idea or two for some new research I hope to carry out in the coming year, and that has me excited as well.

As you know, my daily work is filled with data crunching, report publishing, and other nerdy stuff. But occasionally I get the opportunity to leave my virtual cubicle and interact with the world. Here’s your chance to listen in.

Assessments Webinar

On Wednesday, February 5th at 1:00 EST, I’ll be co-hosting a Brandon Hall Group research spotlight where we talk about some of our recent assessments research and what you need to know. Here’s the marketing blurb:

What’s the big deal about assessments anyway? Assessments have been around for decades now, so why all the attention to the assessments industry these days? Organizations large and small are using a wide variety of assessment types – skill, behavioral, personality, cognitive and more – throughout the hiring process and the employee lifecycle to help make better talent decisions, guide managers in developing their teams, and help individuals further their own career goals. It’s not enough to get an assessment score or profile. Managers and individuals need to know how to take action on that information. It’s a balance of science driven assessments, and the art of integrating the results with your talent processes.

Click here to sign up

Why you should attend

Working as the HR Director for a small company, I don’t know that I would have spent much time looking at information on assessments. After all, you just use those for hiring, right?

Wrong!

  • Hiring assessments (I started using these for key positions, and it was a great tool for helping our selection process)
  • Talent assessments (Who are your high potential employees that would make good leaders?)
  • Individual assessments (What is my team good at? How can I help them to play to their strengths and downplay weaknesses?)

Plus, you get the opportunity to listen to my friend and colleague, Mollie Lombardi, as she shares other insights into the world of assessments. I’m excited and hope you can join us!
assessments webinar invite

Early every year, the President of the United States makes an address to the nation. The purpose of the annual “State of the Union” address is to give an account of the year’s events and discuss the priorities of the coming months. If communicated properly, this is an opportunity to reach a larger audience, share major goals, and get buy-in from the constituency.

So why don’t we give it a shot?

I think every HR pro needs to have their own State of the Union address within their own company, department, or team (depending on the level of responsibility). This is strategic HR communication at its best, and it could become a valuable tool to allow leaders to peer into the inner workings of the HR strategy while allowing HR leaders to share key results areas as well. In fact, even compliance can be strategic, if communicated properly.

Here’s a quote from one study I found:

“Only 20 percent of [the largest publicly traded] companies discuss HR in their reports to shareholders. About one-quarter provides only limited references to the workforce, and some don’t mention their employees at all.”

Can you imagine how our stakeholders would react if we spent 30-50% of our budget on a resource and then never followed up about how it was being utilized? In effect, this is what’s happening with regard to our human capital investments.

How big is your “union?”

As I stated above, depending on where you are in your organization’s hierarchy, you might only be addressing your HR teammates. Or maybe you have the ability to snag an audience with your senior leadership team, and you’re willing to put together a short presentation for that group.

Whatever the case, the size and target audience will be different for everyone, but the tips below will still help you in defining what to discuss.

What to say

Okay, so I’ve sold you on the idea of delivering your own “state of HR” address, but what do you actually say? Here are a few ideas to consider based on the results of Brandon Hall Group’s Business Focus 2014: Leaders’ Top Priorities report:

  • Talent retention—Discuss retention initiatives and any cost savings associated with reduced turnover
  • Learning and development—Give examples of new human capital capabilities brought about by learning and development investments
  • Performance management—Talk about increased performance or reduced turnover expenses associated with improved employee performance
  • Leadership strategy—Provide insights into the role the leadership strategy has played in supporting business growth
  • Sales strategy and planning—Offer data to demonstrate how HR supported the needs of the sales staff and leadership

These certainly aren’t the only topics you can cover, but this is a good starting point based on what organizational leaders need to hear.

The bottom line

This is your chance to get in front of a key audience (whether it’s the rest of your team or another influential group) and share your message about how HR’s priorities align with those of the business.

What are you waiting for?

Closing comments

  • Which stakeholders would benefit most from hearing this address from you or your HR leaders?
  • What are the key issues your leaders are facing that you can include in your address?

 Originally published on the Brandon Hall Group blog

managing contingent workersOne of the best conversations I had last week was about how technology is changing to allow internal HR/recruiting leaders to also take over the management of contingent workers: free agents, temps, etc. But, if you’ve spent some time in HR, you probably know that this is something that we just don’t do. But why?

Good question.

Sometimes the barrier to technological improvement isn’t technology-related at all.

That thought occurred to me during a discussion with the provider, PeopleFluent, that has built a robust recruiting solution that also allows management of contingent workers. In other words, if you’re trying to bring in free agents, contractors, or other non-traditional workers, you can do that within the recruiting tools instead of having an entirely separate process.

The provider has had adoption issues and doesn’t have a significant number of clients (at least in the US) that are seeking to implement this portion of the recruiting system. The problem, as many HR pros will tell you, is that we don’t always want to be in charge of the contingent workers. Here’s why… Continue reading

One of the recurring conversations I had during the first day of the HR Technology Conference revolved around using HR technology tools to solve business problems. The issue with that, says Michael Rochelle, Chief Strategy Officer at Brandon Hall Group, is this:

HR is a buffet of broken processes.

Applying technology to a misaligned strategy, poor tool selection, or inefficient process isn’t going to magically solve anyone’s problems—in fact, it’s just as likely to make it worse.

When we recently did research on talent management systems, more 27% of companies were actively considering switching to a new system or provider. Consider for a moment how many of those companies might actually have the right solution, but they don’t have the right processes in place to support it. Or the opposite could very well be true: the company doesn’t have the right processes or technology in place and needs to make a change to one or both.

How do you make sure that you’re in alignment?

Click here to read the rest of the article on the Brandon Hall Group Blog