Rather than supplant HR managers, the Mason, Ohio-based manufacturer of glasses and sunglasses has created a division of legal and finance experts to provide analytics to its HR team.
Luxottica Retail, which oversees well-known names like LensCrafters, Pearle and Sunglass Hut, has a distinct business challenge as a retailer of high-end glasses and sunglasses, says Robin Wilson, senior director of HR technology and analytics.
The average buying cycle for a pair of prescription glasses is once every two or three years. That means that store associates need to do everything they can to encourage customers to buy a few pairs of glasses during that one visit.
"But before we can impact customer behavior, we need to impact associate behavior,'' Wilson says.
Luxottica agreed in 2006 to have Wilson, who is an attorney and has some financial analysis experience, head up a new HR analytics team. Wilson previously worked as senior counsel and senior director of associate relations at Luxottica, but also has experience working as a financial analyst at General Electric and has a bachelor's degree in business administration.
Wilson's job is to analyze how HR affects the company's various business initiatives. Through extensive analysis of workforce data, Wilson and her four-person HR technology and analytics team arm HR with the knowledge it needs to refine all of the initiatives, she says.
"Instead of just telling people that turnover is up, we can say turnover is costing you $4.1 million a year,'' she says. "We always had this kind of data, but we weren't bringing it together.''
For example, one of the first things Wilson and her team did was to provide productivity rankings for 5,000 of the company's frontline store associates.
Each associate was given a ranking from a low of 1 to a high of 5, based on sales productivity.
"It was a big 'Aha!' moment for a lot of managers because so many people got 1s and 2s, but they had 3s and 4s on their performance reviews,'' Wilson says. "Someone could be a great leader, but not a great seller. But this is a sales culture, and we need to be better at selling.''
Wilson's team now can run predictive modeling as a result of the rankings to see how hiring associates with better sales skills would affect the bottom line, she says. And the company has conducted various types of analysis on HR initiatives using sales productivity as a correlating factor.
"When you can speak in numbers, it gets people's attention,'' Wilson says.
The challenge with having strong analytics, however, is communicating them in a way that the HR team can understand.
"Typically, HR executives are familiar enough with the financials to talk about budgets and for forecasting purposes, but when you start talking about different types of analytical tests, correlation of data sets or predictive modeling, people start fuzzing up,'' she says.
For that reason, Wilson and her team need to make sure that they present the data in a clear and concise manner.
The learning curve is shortening, she says, particularly as more HR professional organizations talk about the importance of analytics in understanding and managing a workforce.
"When I go to HR events, this is what people are talking about,'' she says. "This is the buzz and where HR is going.''
Workforce Management, November 5, 2007, p. 30 -- Subscribe Now!