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Very timely post! Many HR pros have neither the time or the skill set to truly mine their data.

But, many have access to internal experts (often in finance, or marketing at very big companies) who ae great at this type of work.

With a little work removing/replace key fields like ID number and names, they can have the mining done by others and everyone can reap the fortunes.

Yes, indeed, Margaret, you are on target. Econometric and demographic analysis can tell you a lot that you never realized. I once analyzed the historical pay progression records of a major East Coast utility who had a 100-year record of pay by seniority alone in all ranks and levels except top management. Before I rolled out a high-visibility brand-new revolutionary "pay for performance" system, I quietly informed the CEO that my review proved they ALWAYS had a merit pay program, but it was covert and informal. Plum assignments, reclassifications and promotional progressions had been manipulated to substitute for formal P4P systems. That recognition of an informal historical tradition of merit pay was very helpful to the transition to an open formal program.

Yep, Dan. I encourage everyone to silence the "we can't get it done with everything else on our plate" mantra. Admit it guys, sometimes that's HR speak for, "I don't feel like it." As Dan pointed out, there are many ways to get this done and it's likely that people in your company who deal with databases who are the ones to do it. Start with the data that is fundamental to understanding employees. Set up a program. The hard work is then finished. Immediate and ongoing pay off for HR and, I believe, your career as a strategic advisor. Just check out how much insight Jim provided the CEO.

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