Companies are nothing without the right people. People with the right skills and talent make all the difference and will give company the competitive edge they need to succeed today and in the future. It is therefore absolutely vital that companies find, recruit and retain the right people.
With this in mind, I find it always shocking that so many people management practices are still firmly in the dark ages. People management (or Human Resources) teams often spend the majority of their time on administrative tasks or legal issues. Others waste their time on the annual staff satisfaction survey, the completion of staff appraisals using clunky processes and reporting of KPIs such as absenteeism, staff turnover rates and training hours per full time employee. What a lost opportunity!
While all of this is going on, leading companies are completely transforming their people management teams into truly value-adding business functions. Here, people management is done very differently and the keys to this transformation are data and analytics. Wait, before you stop reading here because you find the words ‘data’ and ‘analytics’ downright boring, just hang in there.
Companies can gain mouth-watering benefits when they use data well and apply analytics tools to turn the data into business critical insights. Let me share are some very real examples that show how collecting and analyzing data can deliver impressive (and sometimes unexpected) insights:
A bank was able to cut staff costs in one area by half, simply by analyzing the performance of staff that were recruited from different universities. In the past, the bank held the belief that the best performing people would be those who have excellent degrees from Ivy League universities. Instead, candidates from non-prestige universities outperformed the top-university candidates. This kind of insight allows the business to recruit the right talent for less money, as graduates from the Ivy League universities tend to demand a much higher starting salary.
A retail company uses social media network analysis combined with other analytics tools to find the right candidates for their job. Simply by analyzing social media profiles they can accurately predict the level of intelligence as well as the emotional stability of potential candidates.
One of my clients wanted to recruit self-driven people that are able to take initiative. By analyzing different data sets from the type of people they wanted to recruit and those they wanted to avoid, the company found that the type of browser used to complete the job applications was one of the strong predictors for the right candidate. Those candidates that used browsers that were not pre-installed on their computers and instead had to be installed separately (such as Firefox or Chrome) tended to be better for that particular job.
A retail company I work with is now able to predict how key elements of staff engagement influence operational performance, customer satisfaction and ultimately financial performance. What’s more, the company is now able to predict the extent to which a certain increase in specific elements of staff satisfaction drives a certain percentage increase in revenue by square foot in their shops.
Another company found that call center sales staff with a criminal record performed better than those without a criminal record and that sales people with more Facebook connections performed poorer than those with few connections.
One organization uses analytics tools to scan and analyze the content of emails sent by their staff as well as the social media posts they make on Facebook or Twitter. This allows them to accurately understand the levels of staff engagement and they no longer need the traditional staff surveys.
More data than ever before
HR teams already have lots of data. They have recruitment data, career progression data, training data, absenteeism figures, productivity data, personal development reviews, competency profiles and staff satisfaction data. In addition to these traditional data sets, companies can now collect so much more data, data that wasn’t available before, like: capturing employees on CCTV, taking screenshots when staff is using company computers, scanning social media data, analyzing the content of emails, and even monitor where they are using the data from geo-positioning sensors in corporate smart phones. The challenge is to establish what data is really going to make an impact on your company performance. What is really useful? Despite all this data, recent research has shown that only 23% of companies have HR systems that can always provide sufficient data to measure the execution of their business strategy.
New analytics capabilities
We have seen mind-boggling improvements in our ability to store and analyze data. What's more, we now have big data analytics tools that allow us to compute huge amounts (peta bytes) of data. This enables us to combine the analysis of traditional data with the analysis of unstructured data, such as written text, images or voice recordings.
Different people management
This data and analytics revolution has some serious implication for how people management is done in companies. In order to stay on track companies must make sure that they have the right skills, capabilities and technology in place to leverage people data and analytics. There already is a global shortage of people with business analytics and data science skills, and this shortage is especially noticeable among HR teams.