Monday, July 28, 2014

Karen goes to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles!

I’ve spent the last two weeks with the HR team within the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This agency is responsible for all vehicle registrations and documentation for the entire state of Indiana, and has dozens of branches across the state. Being a large agency with many employees and strict performance standards, the department has a lot of data stored about the performance of employees. There was a wealth of information about employee resignations, firings, retirements, demotions, transfers, and other events, and it was this data that I was tasked with analyzing and presenting.

My project consisted of answering three questions: what events led to employees being fired and/or declared Not Eligible for Rehire? Were disciplinary actions that an employee received reflected in their annual performance ratings? What was the eventual fate of employees who were performing below acceptable standards?

To answer these questions, I set about gathering data on employee turnover, discipline, and performance for the past five years. After obtaining the data from the director, I organized it into a spreadsheet, then assigned numerical values to each of the data points so that they could be analyzed using statistical software. Although the actual data analysis is a very fast process, organizing the data into a usable form is a very time-consuming process, and the entire first week was dedicated to preparing the data for examination. There was definitely a valuable lesson learned here – the real world is nothing like school, and the data you get will have to be placed in the form I need it in. It was definitely a more involved process than I had originally thought!

Once the data was ready, I ran it through statistical software to try and answer the questions. While some of the questions were very straightforward and easy to answer, others were not. I set about preparing a presentation that would make the results clear in a way that people without a statistical background could easily understand. After this presentation was prepared, I presented it to the branch managers at a meeting.

I learned several valuable lessons while completing this project and one of the most important was how to present statistical information in terms people were familiar with. Although I’m very comfortable using statistics, I had never been tasked with presenting to an audience outside of academia, and the experience of doing so was very valuable. This rotation was a wonderful learning experience for me. 

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