Here at the HR Tech World in London, I had a long discussion with a London-based top headhunter who specialises in CHROs for large companies listed on the stock exchange. She claimed she’s finding it increasingly difficult to meet the expectations of CEOs. One of the things that crop up again and again is that HR provides far too few numbers when they discuss their proposals with the management.


CHROs, you need analytical acumen!


The largest majority of CEOs she meets are fed up with this deficit, so she decided to finish her interview with a stark warning, ‘CEOs accept this lack of numerical and analytical acumen less and less, so future HR leaders who don’t do well on this point will soon find themselves on the sidelines.’


HR analytics has been hidden away too much inside organisations


I talk about it quite a lot with HR professionals: the success of new-school companies like Google that stems from things like their extremely data-driven CHRO who has a top analyst report directly to him. That’s exactly what we don’t see enough in Europe! Apart from your average HR leader with very little affinity for data and analysis, expert analysts – if their job exists at all – often find themselves tucked away somewhere all the way down the organisation.

Dear HR leader, have you ever met a finance chief who hides his/her intelligence two or three levels down in their company? I haven’t. But in the HR world, we see this every day and I keep finding it a very singular thing. It sometimes gives me the impression that HR leaders think they’re untouchable in some way or other.

The need for a strong intelligence expert

If I were to take up my old CHRO job again tomorrow, I’d look for a mega strong intelligence expert and give this professional a seat right next to me. A know-how brooker who would think with me about the competitive landscape, the risks that could slow down the dynamics of the business, about how to improve the customer journey, someone who could help me in my search for new business opportunities and with forecasts and complex what-if scenarios.

From HR analysis to business analysis

 So how can you even consider tucking a key role like this away in the reporting or HR systems department? After all, if you ‘hide’ your analytics leader away there, the analytical reflections of your company will, inevitably, stay limited to the everyday HR matters which are for the functions themselves essentially. So HR will never be business-driven and the numbers will be confined to looking back at HR activities and processes. Subjects which the management doesn’t care about at all. So you are a CHRO and you really want to add value? Then transform yourself from a business partner into a business leader, get yourself a top analyst and show that excellent people management has a measurable impact on business results. Ready?

4 Recommendations for the CHRO 

  1. If, as a CHRO, your goal is to use predictive HR analytics to improve some of the core processes within your organisation, you have no choice but to take the lead in all analytical efforts!
  2. An HR analytics leader should be heavily involved in all people-related decision-making processes and focus on quantifying the impact of people investments on a business. As a result, this person should report directly to the CHRO.
  3. A successful HR analytics leader should assume the role and skills of a top consultant in your organisation: efficient in cross-functional project work [bridging the functions and breaking down (data) silos], adapt at developing and presenting business cases and analytically-savvy.
  4. HR reporting mirrors finance, while predictive analytics has more resemblance with marketing (studying behaviors). These are two very different activities and sets of expertise, and, therefore, should be kept separate.


Quote: “CEOs accept the lack of numerical and analytical acumen less and less.”



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With more than 25 years experience as an international HR executive in Fortune 500 companies (Pepsi, Starbucks, Nielsen), Luk is recognized as a top European Predictive HR Analytics expert. He is revered as a leading thinker and influencer, and is a well-known blogger, speaker, columnist and author of many articles. Luk teaches HR Analytics at the Universities of Nyenrode (NL), Leuven (BE) and Antwerp (BE). He is the Co-Founder and CEO of iNostix ( – predictive workforce analytics company.