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People Analytics Strategy Brief: Building HR Business Partner Data Literacy

Are you getting started with People Analytics or looking to take your HR reporting and analytics capabilities to the next level? This is the second article in a series of People Analytics Strategy Briefs where I discuss People Analytics topics in short form.

Today, let’s talk about data literacy and the HR Business Partner (HRBP) role.

The Data

The Josh Bersin Academy recently posted survey results after asking companies how HRBPs in their organizations are perceived.

Source: Josh Bersin Academy LinkedIn

What do each of these categories mean?

Ignored: It’s rare that anyone comes to us for data.

Transactionally: We’re seen as sources of data, but nothing else.

Core team players: We’re central to linking data, people, and the business.

The experts: We’re seen as the people to turn to for data-driven problem-solving.

What should Your Goal be?

More than 50% of HRBPs are perceived transactionally, and while it’s a small win that HR is at least being asked for data, I suggest the goal for most organizations should be to advance their HRBPs to the Core Team Players category.

Suggested Steps

How do you do that? First, your HRBPs don’t need to be data wizards. You should already have strong analytics expertise or should be working on building those skills in your core People Analytics team.

With that said, what are some steps you can take to advance your organization’s HR business partner data literacy?

1.  Make data-driven decision-making an HR mandate and ensure all HR team members are aligned.

2. Assess HRBP data literacy skills and ask for leadership from your most analytical team members.

3. Use analytics in talent processes and be sure your HRBPs understand and share those analytic outputs with their clients.

4. Encourage HRBPs to influence client projects so that they include data and ensure decisions are fact-driven rather than instinctual.

5. Make your People Analytics professionals available to HRBPs. Set up periodic office hours and make sure they have allocated time for impromptu projects and HRBP mentoring.

6. Begin building some data skills with your HRBPs. Start simple with Excel, and expand from there.


Are your HRBPs perceived to be data-driven? What have you done to increase data literacy? Let’s discuss. Feel free to reach out to me directly or share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Authors

GP Strategies Corporation

GP Strategies is a leading workforce transformation partner—a truly dedicated global provider delivering custom learning solutions—from the frontline to the C-Suite. Our transformation focus, combined with deep listening, a customer-centric approach, industry innovation and workforce expertise help clients achieve superior business and operational results through our evidence-driven and technology-agnostic recommendations. We’re at our best when driving innovation—integrating leading technologies, developing new learning paradigms, and instituting fresh business processes and measurement approaches. Working with 121 of the Global 500 customers, we’re proud to say our loyal clients see us as a valued extension of their team. Whether your business success requires a change in employee performance and mindsets, implementation of new learning technologies, or refinement of critical processes, GP Strategies is the transformation partner you can trust. We’re passionate about what we do and are ready to get to work.

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