Thursday, April 22, 2010

To Benchmark or NOT to BenchmarK...

In recent workshops on "HR Metrics that Matter" I have been asked several times about benchmarks for HR related metrics. See VLOG (Video version of a BLOG) to see my thoughts on the subject.

So what are your thoughts and experience with benchmarking? Good or bad idea?

Monday, April 19, 2010

6 Reasons Why Talent Management is a Strategic Imperative

I am honored to introduce Sean Conrad as my guest blogger this week. Sean is with Halogen Software a firm that I have personal experience with. Thanks Sean!
Today's business climate is forcing a shift in the role HR plays. Instead of providing administrative support, HR is becoming a strategic manager of the organization's greatest asset – its people. Driven by this shift, the industry is seeing more companies implement integrated talent management processes.
So why has talent management become a strategic imperative for companies?
1. The C-Level is Demanding Succession Plans and Workforce Analytics
Succession planning isn't just about identifying successors for a handful of leaders. It's about identifying the key competencies and skills an organization needs to succeed, both today and tomorrow. It's about identifying the company's high-potential, high-performing employees across all key functions, and grooming them for advancement. Every company needs to know who their top performers are and work to develop talent pools. These talent pools are your lifeblood, whether you're growing, looking for a successor for a key role, or downsizing.
Executives also need analytic data on everything from retention to skill gaps to goal alignment/progress, and talent plans that align with strategic plans. This data allows them to make informed decisions on when/where/how to invest in talent to ensure the organization is able to meet its strategic goals.
2. Companies Need to Secure Top Talent
While the current recession is giving us a temporary reprieve, experts still agree there is a global talent shortage looming, and some fields continue to experience talent shortfalls. The ability to retain and attract top talent will become critical as economic recovery sets in. Companies need to have integrated talent management processes in place to ensure they can attract, identify, develop, reward and retain top performers, and address any skill shortages before they become critical.
3. Need to Keep the Changing Workforce Engaged
Whether it's because of generational differences or employment lifecycle differences, employees from different generational groups need different things from their managers and organizations to keep them engaged and performing. These different requirements make it imperative for organizations to efficiently and effectively align goals, give employees timely performance feedback, provide performance-based development opportunities, and appropriately reward performance.
4. HR Needs Data to Support Their Strategic Role
As HR plays a more strategic role in organizations, HR professionals need integrated talent management processes that deliver data to inform their strategic talent management plans and support organizational goals. The key is to be able to aggregate and analyze the data to provide relevant metrics that assist in organizational management. You can't get that from a manual, paper-based process.
5. HR Needs Freedom From Administrative Burden
Effective HR departments focus on strategy. To do this, they need to reduce the time they spend on tactical or administrative tasks as much as possible. While automating talent management processes and forms saves HR significant and invaluable time both in administering the process, it’s not a panacea. Regardless of whether or not the processes are automated, good business decisions should come from the analysis of the data.
6. Clear and Significant ROI
More and more research, by companies like the Hackett Group, the Aberdeen Group, IBM, HCI and IDC, is showing the strong link between mature, integrated talent management processes and financial results. Truly successful organizations realize that the only true sustainable competitive advantage they have is their people, and they use strategic talent management to maintain this advantage.

Sean Conrad is product specialist at Halogen eAppraisal. He can be reached at

Monday, April 12, 2010

How to Get More BANG for Your Engagement Bucks

Recently, I was asked a really good question after a webinar I conducted on HR Metrics that Matter. Here is the question:
Do you have any suggestions on how to measure engagement? Our company does an annual associate opinion survey, but we are looking for cost effective ways to do more frequent pulse checks on engagement levels. We would like to focus on certain departments that really drive our customer service scores.
What a great question. I have a ton of suggestions, but will try to keep this as brief as possible.

We have found that is makes more sense to look at engagement data more frequently. Instead of doing one huge survey per year, consider shortening that survey and adding several pulse check surveys on perhaps a quarterly basis. This added frequency will allow you to analyze changes in engagement and act on those issues rather than waiting until you have dissatisfied customers.

To answer the question above on HOW to get that accomplished, I would say there are several ways. If you have the talent in house to design or have access to valid questions and analyze the data, then you can use an online survey tool to deliver and analyze the surveys. Tools like SurveyMonkey are quite popular. (See previous post on 13 Employee survey must haves)

If you do not have that expertise inside the company then I would suggest a third party survey company. The main advantage to this option is the objectivity a third party brings. Employees tend to be more forthright when third parties are involved. Also, third parties specialize in this research, so the value of understanding engagement is worth the extra expense in my opinion. (I do have a strong bias here, in the name of full disclosure)

The last part of the above question is key for me, wanting to focus on the departments that drive the customer services scores. If you have customer data, it is very easy to analyze that data with employee data to see what drives customer satisfaction as it relates to employee behaviors and satisfaction. These studies are great because you can determine statistically what you need to focus on to move the service score. (Happy employees equal happy customers)

A very cost effective way to get excellent customer data is to ask your customer-facing employees. There is research that states that the data from employees that are on the front lines with customers is highly correlated to actual customer data.

Our company has heard many times, "What do I do with all this engagement data?" "I am not sure how to take action on these results." To really get to data that is actionable you really need to be able to slice and dice your data to get to engagement drivers and/or root causes of dissatisfaction. So, which ever method you use to get your data, it is most important to actually DO something with it.

How have you measured engagement? What works in your company?