August 6, 2016
We’re operating in an increasingly tech-centric environment, but human talent still remains one of the core differentiators if a business is to thrive. Not surprisingly, the mission to get the very best people on board and optimise the potential of those already in situ has become the Holy Grail for many companies, irrespective of scale and sector – a challenge that demands a more intuitive and precise, even scientific approach to human capital management. Data analytics is a case in point, designed to extrapolate insight from intelligence across a variety of disparate sources and establish actionable intelligence, capabilities which naturally lend themselves to powering key decisions around hiring and retention and building on existing talent. Yet despite the proliferation of analytics across many strands of the workplace, take up in the HR sphere remains relatively modest, in tandem with a long-held reticence over the use of the technology in this area.
Therefore, overcoming this with practical solutions which tackle the ongoing perceptions over complexity is crucial if the game-changing potential and the competitive advantage of using this intelligence is to be fully realised and opportunities seized.
Establishing a broader analytical culture rather than simply deploying the technology and expecting the magic to happen is vital to success which is why companies are increasingly turning to consultancies that can invest the time and expertise, and crucially address the internal skills gap which is often prohibitive to the technology’s successful implementation.
When combined with human insight, cloud-based analytics technology can drive astute and intuitive decision-making around people management in the workplace and the value and opportunities that stems from access to this level of data.
While the case for deployment may be strong, the real mission is making this more accessible across a host of industries with financial services and healthcare topping the agenda, where adopting this approach to recruit and retain nurses, for instance, is expected to reap dividends.
Analytics in this context can be very powerful and when it is harnessed the impact is clear, but it does remain under-exploited. We are seeing with law firms for example, how drilling down into the skill sets of attorneys has become a critical factor in their overall productivity. If they need a fifth year associate who speaks Japanese and has experience in mergers and acquisitions, then finding the person through analytics is a very straightforward approach.
Here, the scope and detail of the data available can differentiate the proposition. An ever expanding library of reports and dashboards covering areas from diversity, gender equality, race and age provide a full library of intellectual property available for the business in question which can inform all major strands of workplace.
Beyond identifying talent and skill sets, the information offers a detailed snapshot of other core workplace intelligence from age group per headcount and trends around voluntary and involuntary termination to the particular recruitment path behind the company’s top performers.
A greater focus on workplace diversity with quotas and compliance under greater scrutiny, means the availability and easy access to tangible evidence is set to become a key resource. Furthermore, analytics has the potential to drive greater equity in the workplace from validating that the company’s highest performers are being suitably remunerated to percentage comparisons between men and women in senior management roles. Then there’s more insight into the ubiquitous threat of brain drain by bringing visibility to areas which can be tackled before they become problematic.
In the oil and gas industry for example, there is what we call a silver brain drain where a lot of the skilled engineers are approaching retirement and there isn’t much in the way of succession planning to address the gap. Keeping track of this is critical if a business is to prepare for all eventualities and make some contingency plans.
Of course, it’s not a lack of recognition of the value or merits that’s proving an obstacle but often the time and internal resources needed to fully optimise the power and potential.
Often the process of implementing such technology involves working with a company’s existing legacy systems and retrofitting, something which cannot always be handled internally. And this is where a good consultancy can make all the difference. Everyone wishes they had more time to be more strategic and less transactional but in the day to day running of the business what becomes a ‘nice to have’ rather than a need can see can be pushed to the side.
Growing evidence makes it clear that the kind of insight gleaned is far from optional, rather it is fundamental information that can be hard to keep a handle on particularly for large corporations spanning continents.
Matt Henderson is the senior deployment strategist with DayNine