In a recent webinar, Program Director Dr. Robert D. Stokes, expands on the online MS in Human Resource Analytics and Management (MSHRAM) program.
The following is a partial transcript of the archived presentation, which can be viewed in full here.
The Evolution of HR
Dr. Robert D. Stokes: I think that this is a really unique program, both in the way it could be offered online, but also in terms of the courses that we're going to be covering. I've seen HR go from very much a transactional administrative role to one in which it really gets more involved in the strategic metrics and evidence-based decision-making that had never been part of their role in the past.
We also could look at other types of services that all of us interact with. Whether it's going to a bank — we can now go online. We utilize services, make transfers, provide information about ourselves, and the same thing is happening with HR. We refer to this as e-HR.
One thing that I've found in my work in the human resource field is that, many times, HR professionals, certainly want to play a major role within their organizations. In many cases, they are very knowledgeable about HR, but are maybe not as knowledgeable about the business side of an organization and how they can actually have an impact on organizational performance that's directly related to the work that they do — whether it be in talent management, performance management, and the other areas.
How AU’s MS in Human Resource Analytics and Management Preps You for the Evolving Industry
If you look at our program, it's a 30-credit program. We do have a 12-credit certificate option, which those courses could be transferred into the graduate program.
The major impact of our program is to really have you be successful as the HR profession evolves. So, if you look at each of these areas — being able to collect information, analyze it, being able to make decisions and design thinking and evaluation sciences models — these are going to be a big skill sets that you'll have to have in the HR profession of the future.
We find there are more self-service applications where employees can provide information, make decisions about pensions, compensation issues, or performance appraisals. Those components are part of this program as well.
Finally, the program will teach you how to enhance HR plan development, which will consist of credible, measurable, strong business cases that you can then provide towards the management of an organization.
These fit into SHRM's such as critical evaluation, business acumen, and consultation, which the program also includes.
So as HR has evolved, HR professionals are now looking at how to increase efficiency. In other words, if we look at recruiting, we access how we can make it easier to have potential candidates find us, apply, and provide information.
We access whether the people that we're attracting will be the same type of performers when they start as well as also five years down the road. Hopefully, we'll retain them.
Finally, we access impact and the talent metrics that are in our organization. We determine if there are skill sets that maybe training and development needs to provide.
I also think the program is very unique because it looks at things from a more business side of the equation. The program is actually a result of having experts in the field look at where HR has been, look where it is now, and where it's going, and apply those insights into the program curriculum.
All of these people either have a background in HR analytics, as well as strong human resource development and organizational development background. So, it's a program that was developed from a variety of perspectives with the goal of making sure that we develop a program that makes you fluent in analytics, emerging tech, HR technologies, and complex HR concepts.
Program Goals & Outcomes
I always refer to Stephen Covey, one of his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Beginning with an end in mind. That's what we want you to think about: Where do you want to be when you complete the program, five years or 10 years from now? We want a program that's going to prepare you for the HR profession of today, but also, tomorrow. So, when you're able to have data analytics with the human resource concepts — when you merge those two together — you're a much more effective HR professional. Your HR will have a much stronger impact on the organization performance, and as well as individual performance.
Some outcomes that we think are really critical are being able to get human workplace performance increasing and knowing whether it increases or not based on measurements and analytics, and be able to demonstrate in a business-oriented way that the efforts we're taking are going to result in the organization performing better. It's certainly more predictive, as opposed to descriptive, and it's more of showing foresight versus hindsight.
We want to look at complex and also sensitive HR issues, risk reduction, compliance, and issues related to legal matters that occur within the HR field. We also want to look at areas such as working with managers in relation to performance appraisals, getting them away from the strictly evaluative pay increase performance appraisals to a developmental performance appraisal that occurs more often than simply at the end of the year.
Additional program outcomes are assessing performance of internal departments and external agencies initiatives.
So, we're looking at many stakeholders; they could be within our organization. It could be within areas like IT, marketing, and operations, and at the same time, external agencies, like governmental agencies and suppliers. This can also include external organizations that might provide human resource information systems (HRIS) that you could evaluate and decide if they make sense for the situation that you're involved in or create an inclusive human resource decision-making process where you assess the importance of issues in integrity, accountability, diversity, and inclusion.
Being able to understand the demographics of your workforce, understand your recruiting efforts, and being involved in organizational governance through analytics can be really helpful.
Specialized Course Focuses
We offer six HR analytics and management courses. I'll be teaching the first course, Human Resource Information Systems. This course introduces you to the potential of HR, the challenges of HRIS, and walks you through a system’s development lifecycle to be able to experience the process of going through and identifying a potential HRIS project. It’s a course that is not going to have you design an analytics model.
Evaluating Employee Metrics
You’ll look at evaluating, hiring, performance, and employee metrics. Employee metrics are a key part of this.
For example, one organization didn't realize until they looked at employee metrics that over 40 percent of their managers were 55 years or older. They really had not done succession planning. So they wanted to figure out how they can look at that from the standpoint of the people they're bringing in, how they're onboarding them, how they're preparing them for management roles early on, so they're not doing it at the last minute.
Evaluating Process Performance
We'll also look at the issue of measuring performance in processes. In other words, how do we evaluate and how do we work with our managers to evaluate individual performance in relation to the organization performance? What are the processes that we use? What are the biases that could occur? How can we reduce those? How can we help managers realize that performance process is a great benefit to the individual who wants to succeed in the organization and a great benefit to the manager and the organization?
We’ll look at compliance risk reduction strategies and how to ensure compliance. What information are we collecting that will allow us to show that we are able to demonstrate why we are approaching certain HR practices and how those meet the guidelines. How do we handle things like ADA? How do we handle OSHA regulations, and so on?
We'll also have emerging trends in HR. I think this course by the advisory council was really important to add to this program because they wanted to be proactive and show some foresight, in terms of where HR is going. It addresses new things that are happening that we need to consider as we get into areas like artificial intelligence and other areas.
You will leave this program with a variety of projects and activities that you'll be able to create within your portfolio. It's a very application-based program. It also has a good foundation in theory and HR concepts.
We want to have you develop those critical thinking skills so that as you are a consultant to the business side of the organization and an equal player.
You’ll also take other courses. The required courses are Intercultural Communication for Professionals, Introduction to Decision Science, Design Thinking, and Evaluation Sciences, as well two elective courses out of a list of seven elective courses. I would point out that SHRM identified our Intercultural Communication for Professionals as a key course that they are excited to see in this program.
So, we have HR-specific courses. We have courses that are going to develop your ability to use decision science and evaluation sciences and design thinking.
I think folks that have an understanding of HR will see that these courses will prepare them to utilize these tools without the concern of wondering if they have the skill set to use them. The new skills that you'll need in HR are skill sets that you don't have to be an IT person to develop. Many of your skills that you'd use, like developing a project team, looking at new initiatives to add to the HR function, or to evolve a current initiative will become much more user-friendly from the standpoint of employees with the approach we're taking.
From the Q&A
Dana Lesus (Moderator): Based on your experience, what value does the combined analytics and management bring as a differentiator in the marketplace?
Dr. Robert D. Stokes: Graduates in our program can apply these skills immediately in the workplace. For an example, it's not enough to know how to offer a training program anymore; you need to know if that training program increases the skills that impact performance. Being able to make a connection from what the objectives were, what the expected outcomes were, and be able to measure those outcomes to decide if that training is something we want to continue, or maybe there's a better option, or something we've learned from the analytics that would take us down a different road.
I think that will differentiate you from a number of other people that are very aware of how to develop a training program.
To learn more about American University’s online MS in Human Resource Analytics and Management program, contact an admissions advisor at 855.725.7614 or request more information