The “Cobra Kai”web TV series is based upon the 1984 movie “The Karate Kid.” In the series, over three decades have passed since the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament. A down on his luck Johnny Lawrence reopens the Cobra Kai dojo and re-ignites his rivalry with Daniel LaRusso and the Miyagi-Do Karate school.

“Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.” The Cobra Kai dojo motto can be applied to how you approach your HR Analytics.

Strike first: Before you can build out your People Analytics practice you must first strike at the most critical point. Getting your data cleansed, transformed and integrated is that first strike.Is your head-count data immaculate across global regions and across full-time, part-time, contingent and expatriate workers? Has your data been de-duplicated? Have hierarchies, levels and business roll-ups been reconciled to perfection? If not, you must stay at the white belt level and solidify the foundation upon which you will build your HR analytics mastery. Building off a solid data foundation will produce accurate insights and prevent costly re-work in the future.

Strike hard: Take a hard look at the data you have collected. Perform exploratory data analysis on all data sets and look for trends and insights. Consider different ways of combining data to uncover new learnings. Also brainstorm on other possible sources of data that can optimize your workforce. Have you ingested manager ratings, overall satisfaction scores for service representatives, sales team performance numbers, annual employee engagement scores, and quarterly employee pulse surveys into your HR Data Lake? The deeper you look, the more hidden gems and relationships you will find.

No Mercy: Be relentless in your pursuit of maximizing your firm’s human capital. Now that you have a solid grasp of your structured data, are you leveraging unstructured data and NLP (natural language processing)?NLP topic modeling and sentiment analysis can be applied to your employee engagement comments, pulse surveys and even external sources such as comments on Glassdoor and LinkedIn. What delights your current and former employees, and what do they loathe? Once you have these insights, engage the proper leadership within your organization to enact a change. Insights without action are a waste of time.

Have you taken a hard look at your employee retention models and how their predictive power may have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic? If you are not factoring in remote- only interviewing for your roles, you should start. A Zoom interview is just not the same as in person. I have been flown (expenses paid) out to Mountain view, California, for an interview for an engineering role in New York and I understand why. Do remote only interviews lead to more ghosting and short-term resignations (leave within six months)?What about candidates who don’t live near the office but promise to “move back” when offices open? Is this a red flag as well? Finally, geo model features such as distance from office or commuting time from office will need to be adjusted or discarded based on your organization’s return-to-work plan.

Go visit a Dojo or the All Valley Karate Tournament. Attending a high-quality people analytics conference can be just what your team needs to jump-start creativity and fresh ideas. I had the opportunity to attend a PAFOW (People Analytics and Future of Work) conference in Philadelphia last September and was very impressed by the quality of the content and speakers.

Balance: In contrast to the No Mercy approach of Cobra Kai, Danny LaRusso’s Miyagi-Do school focuses on balance and looking within to optimize results. A project I am currently leading involves analyzing the diversity of our speaker panels as well as our media interactions. Balance among the external voices and thought leaders of your firm is important. As we all know, diverse panels and points of view give the best insights. At PGIM, a thought leader in investment management with $1.4 trillion in assets under management, we have hundreds of media interactions and panelist events per month and we are always looking to maximize diversity across our speakers. We have a program to develop up-and-coming spokespeople that encourages a broad representation across gender, age and ethnicity. Your existing and prospective clients as well as your incoming talent will appreciate the diversity of voice of your best employees.

So, there it is, how a Karate-based series can help you in your HR analytics, with ideas for your next HR analytics initiatives. Good luck!© 2020 Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities. PGIM, Inc., is the principal asset management business of Prudential Financial Inc., and is a registered investment advisor with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. PGIM is a trading name of PGIM, Inc. and its global subsidiaries. Prudential Financial, Inc. of the United States is not affiliated in any manner with Prudential plc, incorporated in the United Kingdom or with Prudential Assurance Company, a subsidiary of M&G plc, incorporated in the United Kingdom.