Tuesday, July 31, 2012

5 Ways to Start Measuring HR Data

Many times I am asked by attendees at our workshops, "How do I get started with HR Metrics?"

My standard answer is...just start.  Kinda like Nike...just do it!

I know data, numbers, statistics, analytics and metrics are all very daunting for HR professionals as they aren't typically our sweet spot.

But think about the demand for people related data.  The demand is definitely up as CEO's are no longer making investments until they are relatively confident that that investment will yield a return.  The evidence that CEO's need for the business case for those investments is NOT a gut check, it's real data pointing to an increase in profits, revenue or productivity.  Period.  End of story.

So in HR's conquest to provide relevant, business related intelligence on an organization's most expensive asset (people), the journey to analytics must begin now!

Here are 5 ways, I think HR professionals can get a start on measuring HR Data:

1) Take inventory on what is currently being measured in regards to "people data."  Even if it's only turnover, that is a start.  If the answer is truly NOTHING, then start measuring one thing that is a priority with your business leaders.  After taking inventory see if there is a way to make the data you have more relevant by displaying it on a more creative interesting way.  Is there a way to dive just a little deeper into the data to tell a better story?  i.e. what is causing turnover and how can I fix it, and how much money can we save if we embark on this initiative?

2) Meet with business leaders to see what is keeping them up at night.  See what is preventing those leaders from accomplishing their goals and objectives.  I bet 80% of the answers will be people related. After these discussions see if you can help your leaders by analyzing data that you have in HR.  Maybe they are concerned with bench-strength or retention of high performers.  By analyzing workforce data you may be able to assist managers in these critical areas.

3) Try to solve a productivity issue.  These are always fun.  Maybe you have one area/department/function that aren't performing as well as previous periods.  Start looking at things like profit/employee and revenue/employee to see if you can spot trends.  Maybe, there is a process or training issue you can uncover and solve.  Think about how big of an HR hero you will be if you can assist with increasing productivity!

4) Take a business approach to data.  Don't just start reporting and analyzing data for the heck of it.  Start with a continuous improvement or revenue generation mode.  With people data being so prevalent you can get into analysis paralysis.  Make sure that you understand the strategic direction of the organization first and foremost.  Then use people data to understand what truly drives business results.  For example, in a hospital setting, choice of hospital is driven by patient satisfaction.  Patient satisfaction is driven by the level of care they receive by Doctors and nurses.  Understanding what drives doctors and nurses to deliver this patient care is critical.  Is it flexibility with work schedules, is it pay/benefits?  Is it work satisfaction?  Is it access to the latest technology?  The point is find out with your data so that you KNOW those drivers.

5) STOP WITH THE EXCUSES.  I can't think of any reason not to get starting measuring something.  I have heard just about every excuse in the book and quite frankly none of them are valid for me:

  1. I don't have time-Really?  I think you have to make time, because someone else will.
  2. I am not analytical-either figure it out or hire someone that is
  3. I don't have a budget-start small with resources you have and then when you start to get leadership's attention budget will follow.
Are you convinced yet?  READY SET MEASURE!

Can you tell I just got back from a little vacation...I am all fired up!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why is Feedback an 8 Letter Word?

Since when is feedback such a chore?  Why is feedback so hard to do?

Employees need to understand how they are doing and what they need to do to move up their career ladder.  If feedback isn't received then how do employees develop?

Yet, feedback (communication) is usually the number one cited problem between managers and employees and leadership and managers.

I think back to when I had a manager in corporate America.  I really did look forward to having that conversation about how I was doing and what I would be doing next.  Believe it or not, I did get feedback that was hard to hear.  Yes, I was told as an HR professional that I was NOT a great listener.

Imagine that...Ms. Type A personality, not a good listener.  But...realizing that weakness I began to try harder.  I really began to try to shut my mouth and not formulate responses when other people were talking.  (How am I doing now?)

Anyway, I think about many managers I know today that will go to any length to NOT have that conversation because they are conflict avoiders.  I believe by not giving feedback to your employees you are risking a lot more than just your perceived relationship with that employee.  It's just like kids, for those of us that have them....you are not trying to be their friend you are trying to be their parent (boss).

Here's a short list of why it is important to have the "tough" conversations:

1) By not explaining where employees need to improve hurts the employee.  Whether they stay with your organization or move on to another one, the issue still is not solved, thus leaving that employee not as effective as they can be.

2) The company suffers in productivity by not developing the individuals to their full potential.  I believe that most individual want to perform well and in order to do so they need the basics; job expectations, job feedback and performance discussions.

3) Morale suffers period.  By keeping individuals that aren't performing, the high performers get...well just pissed off.  This decreased morale will then lead to turnover and turnover leads to more costs.

4) Customer relations can suffer as well.  By not having conversations with employes that interact with customers can be very detrimental.  Sometimes, we don't' get a second chance with customers....they just leave and never come back.

So, what is the solution to this lack of feedback quandary?

I have some ideas....but let me hear yours.  Come on give me some feedback!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Making the Most of Your Turnover Data

Turnover is one of the HR metrics that we have been measuring forever...and ever.  The problem is that turnover all by itself really doesn't mean anything.  What does your leadership team do with, "Our quarterly turnover rate is 28.6%?"

The questions then become:
  1. What caused the turnover?
  2. How do we stop the turnover?
  3. How much is the turnover costing us?
  4. How much will fixing turnover cost us?
  5. Was the turnover good or bad for the company?
  6. Are we at risk for losing our high performers or our high potentials?
  7. Which managers have the most/least turnover and why?
  8. Is there differences in turnover among generations? If so, why?
  9. Is there differences in turnover among managers? If so, why?
  10. Is there differences in turnover among departments?  If so, why?
In this month's HR Magazine, Adrienne Fox wrote an article title, "Drive Turnover Down."  I was honored to be quoted in the article that talks about using data to get to root cause of turnover.  The article was interesting talking about how HR used to view turnover and what is different about turnover 2.0.  

I believe to answer the questions above you have to think like a marketer and slice and dice data until it tells the turnover story.  

In the article Fox quoted Brain Wilkinson, who pointed to general attributes that impact turnover in most organizations:
  • The local economy
  • The traits of the job
  • How often employees have been promoted
  • Pay increase frequency
I believe each company needs to understand what drives THEIR turnover as the list above implies, those are generalities and when it comes to turnover, its not a cookie cutter approach.

As Fox discusses and I concur, HR professionals should strive to be less general and more predictive when it comes to turnover.  The data is there to analyze.  Using data such as historical turnover rates, performance scores, engagement data and many other variables, you can "predict" the employees that are at risk for leaving.  Managers would really value this data as they can "course correct" the employment experience so that top performers will stay with the organization.  

What has your approach been to analyzing turnover?  What has worked for your organization?

Monday, July 9, 2012

The First Step in Moving from Metrics to Workforce Analytics

I was honored to be asked to guest blog for my friends over at Visier Analytics this week.  So, I took the lazy way out this week.  Here is a link to their blog check out my article, The First Step in Moving from Metrics to Workforce Analytics.