Why evidence is key to effective professional practice.

By Edward Houghton, Head of Research at the CIPD.

Good HR is built on evidence. From the design of new performance management programmes to the management of an employee grievance, its critical to make use of information, data and insights every step of the way. If people professionals do make use of evidence, it makes it far more likely that positive outcomes will result.  Because of this the CIPD has built evidence-based practice into the core of the profession map, and is encouraging people professionals to utilise evidence in their practice. The reason for this is obvious: if we’re to improve the outcomes of people professionals, as well as our reputation among key stakeholders, we must seek encourage evidence-based practice across the profession. It needs to become a standard practice for all HR, OD and L&D professionals.

There are four forms evidence that professionals should look to include in in their daily practice: scientific literature, which includes empirical studies, data from inside the organisation such as people data, insights from stakeholders such as their perspectives, values or concerns, and finally the professional expertise of practitioners themselves. When used in combination these four sources of evidence can help to improve the quality of outcomes and ensure that the risk of poor decisions being made is reduced.

Using all four forms of evidence for all decisions is unlikely, there may be some decisions that mean not all four sources can be used. As such, people professionals should look to seek the best available evidence to help them to make decisions. For example, the CIPD’s own research shows that only 22% of HR professionals use scientific data “often” or “always” in their own decision making, meaning it is the least used of all evidence types available to professionals. Clearly there is more that needs to be done to improve access and use of scientific evidence.

Also, research shows there are some clear barriers to being evidence based. These include a perceived lack of time to read academic research, low quality business data, lack of access to expertise or specialist knowledge, and the perceived pressure to find a “quick fix”. Evidence-based practice takes time and commitment to get right and can require changes in practice for people professionals. Seeking evidence needs to be the norm for people practitioners if they are to improve their impact, and working and networking with other like-minded professionals is a great way forward. 

That is why the CIPD Scotland Annual Conference on the 5th March 2020 is a fantastic opportunity for people professionals of all levels to network, learn and engage with evidence and insights. The conference programme includes speakers from across the world of work and the people profession and includes both academic perspectives and grounded practice insights from expert practitioners. The conference is built around the idea of using insights and evidence to create fair, meaningful and productive work – and will provide the perfect platform for people practitioners looking to improve their practice and create real impact by being evidence-based and outcomes-driven.  

Book your place here: https://events.cipd.co.uk/events/scotland/

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