Competition continues to grow for the best talent. When skills are scarce, HR professionals are responsible for finding the best talent but also increasingly important in keeping those high-performing employees that are already in place.
Just as it’s more expensive for sales professionals to win new business than keep existing customers happy, HR can help reduce costs by helping businesses retain their existing staff members. However, this approach relies on taking a joined-up approach to managing priorities.
HR analytics: an essential technology?
HR analytics has been put forward as an essential technology for HR managers to maintain their focus on hiring great talent, and there is a true science behind the art of recruiting and retention. However, this has to be thought about alongside other budget pressures and areas of investment.
In order to make the most of areas like retention, data can help. The ability to aggregate data and use key metrics to identify the best candidates can be the critical element to retaining the right people.
This is not to say that there is no longer a need for the traditional skills of the HR manager.
Expertise in hands-on research into potential recruits and approaches to filling roles, an extensive personal network, and other tools of the trade are always going to be significant elements of the process. The difference with data - in the form of facts, probabilities, and market clues - is that this information helps HR be more strategic.
There has already been a large upswing in the number job postings for HR professionals that require the integration of critical data into the daily workflow. Using data, HR can provide information to line of business teams on how their recruitment process should go in practice.
The same is also true of retention, as HR can put existing staff values into a wider market context.
However, it’s not as simple as just looking at internal data on staff. Even HR teams that pride themselves on their advanced use of metrics still have gaps in information or rely on internal, potentially biased data.
With this incomplete picture, it’s difficult for HR teams to see exactly what is taking place.
For HR, this adds up to repeating the same task while expecting different results, a definition of insanity that is regularly attributed to Einstein.
The ability to incorporate external data – such as information on market forces, actions in the competitive landscape, and accurate salary data – helps HR ensure that the team’s use of data reflects the reality of the market and the company in context.
In turn this increases the ability of HR to be a true partner for management and hiring managers as opposed to being an “end-of-the-line” resource.
Talent analytics can empower professionals to play more influential roles in the strategic planning of their organisations.
Here are some easy-to-follow examples
For example, an organisation that bases its business model on winning projects can analyse the talent supply in a specific location before submitting any proposal.
This can help enormously with pricing any project so that the cost quoted reflects the market situation, rather than guessing at what might be required.
This is a necessary part of planning ahead, as if the needed skills in the project area are scarce, it may not be feasible to bid on the project.
Conversely, when talent resources are plentiful then the cost can be managed more effectively as part of the bidding process.
Another example comes with training and certification strategies.
Data points might show that certain skills are in higher demand than others. Using this information, HR professionals can make the case for investing in training resources compared to focusing on recruitment of skills that might be expensive.
In this case, training existing employees may be the more economical approach to acquiring needed skills, while also ensuring that valued employees continue to see themselves as vital to the business.
In times when learning and development budgets might be under threat, external data can provide HR with some much needed ammunition on the cost to acquire skills, whether this is through external recruitment or internal personnel development. Either way, bringing data into the decision positions HR as an equal with the rest of the business.
The need for existing data
Each of these examples above require existing internal data available to any HR manager, but also call for external information on the availability of skills.
By keeping a close eye on market developments, it’s possible to make investments in talent go further through an integrated approach to recruitment and retention.
Equally, it’s possible to keep an eye on what other companies in the same position or market are doing with their hiring – this can show where they may be looking to poach staff, or where they are expanding operations in the future. Either way, this information is important for business planning and thinking ahead.
Ultimately, HR managers can avoid succumbing to Einstein’s definition of insanity by employing the approach of data analytics.
By combining internal data, the soft-skill “art” of recruiting and the insight that comes from external market data, HR managers are better able to get buy-in from the right people and become a true partner in the process.
Armed with relevant metrics, HR can shift from being business functionaries and into being strategic decision makers.