Talent Management

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Time to use data to improve your staffing Companies are turning to data analytics to gain insights into personnel trends which can aid staff recruitment, retention, development and performance PEOPLE ANALYTICS NICK MARTINDALE P eople analytics are the latest buzzwords to hit hu- man resources and talent management. But these two words shouldn't be dismissed as just another piece of manage - ment speak as they sum up the potential for businesses to drive decisions based on the use of data, drawing on insight that has up to now been unattainable. "In its advanced form, it enables predictions to be made," explains Di - lys Robinson, principal research fel- low at the Institute for Employment Studies. "It is used to gain a greater understanding of key business ques- tions or problems, so it is more than people metrics or management in- formation. But the majority of organ- isations, even those producing good quality people metrics, do not use people analytics in this way." Data can be drawn from a varie - ty of sources, including employee engagement surveys, absence re- cords, training information and work scheduling, she adds. While many are not using this to its full extent yet, most organisa - tions are at least engaging in some kind of analysis of their people data, says Tom Mars - den, chief execu- tive of people an- alytics company Saberr. What they are not doing, however, is using this to make for - ward predictions. "It's estimated that the number of businesses doing this is as low as 5 per cent," he says. Examples of or - ganisations that are include Google, which has changed its recruitment criteria based on identifying par- ticular characteristics of successful hires, and McKinsey and JetBlue, which have spotted some of the causes of attrition in key staff, re- ducing attrition by up to 25 per cent. One issue slowing down the up- take of people analytics is human resources departments' lack of natural instinct for data, Brian Kropp, HR prac - tice leader at CEB, believes. "A useful question to pose is what can HR learn from marketing? Marketing have developed analyt - ics capabilities, including how to analyse unstruc- tured data, how to segment their data and how to target analysis on customer needs, as well as outcome metrics to show the impact of deci - sions and actions," he says. HR is also hampered by the qual- ity of data it has, which tends to be around volumes rather than qual- ity, as well as the old issue of data being kept on disparate technolo- gy platforms. Jo Harley, managing director at engagement technology firm Purple Cubed, advises HR to keep things simple in the early days. "Start by understanding what is right for your organisation and its culture," she says. "Then adopt a few easy-to-ac - cess measures and increase over time. A few quick wins, demonstrat- ing how people analytics can add real value to the business, will ena- ble buy-in at the top." She identifies four main areas where HR should look to make use of data as talent management, re - cruitment, learning and develop- ment, and engagement. One of the biggest potential areas is workforce planning, helping or- ganisations assess future require- ments and match these to avail- able talent. "Organisations can determine which existing workers they want to secure or nurture in which locations, the likelihood of people considering a change and then accurately inform the hiring process about the type of person they should be hiring," says Belin - da Johnson, owner of employment research consultancy Worklab. "Within this hiring capability, employers should have truly en - gaged talent pools through which they are identifying potential new hires based on building up a profile of their credentials but, again, this is not a widespread capability yet." Some organisations, such as HCL Technologies, are making use of people analytics in this space. "It helps us to balance our workforce to ensure we have access and avail - ability of the right skills, at the right time, in the right place and at the right cost," says Prithvi Sher- gill, chief HR officer. "We have also used people analytics for predict- ing employee retention and talent fulfilment, as well as profiling tal- ent to enhance performance." At a more simplistic level, the concept can a lso be used to track how happy and engaged employ - ees are; data which can then be used to identif y any underlying issues with staff. "Usua lly in the form of sur vey questions, busi - nesses are looking for employee feedback on the human factors which affect their work, so the ex tent to which they are happy, inspired, and em - powered," says Jody A ked, head of ser vice design at Happiness Works. " They a lso touch on relation - ships: how are teams working to- gether and what can this tell us about eff iciency, productivity and staff retention." The principle could even be ex - tended to helping to identify po- tential risks to the business from employees, through monitoring people's digital interactions, says Scott Weber, managing director of Stroz Friedberg. "Employees intent on damaging an organisa - tion typically share psychological traits, which are often expressed through the employee's choice of language," he says. "By recognis - ing patterns in word choice, exist- ing at-risk employees can be iden- tified before an incident." Such analysis need not be solely in- ward-looking, either. Luxury hotel operator The Dorchester Collection uses data from staff and customers to help shape both its employee of - fering and guest experiences. "We know that the hotels where employee engagement is highest are also where guests are the most engaged," says Eugenio Pirri, vice president, people and organisation - al development of the hotel chain. "Heightened engagement on both parts results in improved customer focus, business performance and revenues. We're also able to recruit better, finding the right people based on our culture and fit, and then placing them in the right roles with clear development tailored to their needs and ambitions." Edward Houghton, CIPD's research adviser, human capital and metrics, believes data an - alytics could have a positive effect on HR's own role in the business. "The growth of HR analytics could provide HR with greater persuasive evidence to both inform organisa - tional strategy and demonstrate their value-adding con- tribution to busi- ness performance," he says. "But first they need to make a strong business case for investment in the area." It's a point also made by Giles Slinger, director at data analytics firm Concentra. "HR needs to get very good at telling a clear story," he says. "It is not enough to say 'our six-month rolling attrition rate is down 0.1 per cent'. You need to be able to point to a chart and say 'this area had the highest level of attri - tion in top performers in 2015 and it also had the lowest engagement scores – that cost us $3 million in replacing staff and 2,000 dissatis - fied customers'." It helps us to balance our workforce to ensure we have access and availability of the right skills, at the right time, in the right place and at the right cost Share this article online via raconteur.net Getty It is used to gain a greater understanding of key business questions or problems, so it is more than people metrics or management information RACONTEUR raconteur.net 15 TALENT MANAGEMENT 10 / 03 / 2016 MOST VALUABLE BENEFITS OF WORKFORCE ANALYTICS Source: SAP COMMON USES OF WORKFORCE ANALYTICS GLOBAL SURVEY OF ORGANISATIONS WITH ADVANCED ANALY TICS Source: Harvard Business Review Plan and measure outcomes of executive leadership development 39% Create a pipeline of successors for high performers 52% Design and build career paths for valued employees 55% Develop workforce skills in key areas 79% Identify and develop high-potential employees 66% Understand and plan for future talent needs 65% Improved business performance Higher employee retention Fast, reliable data aggregation and access

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