My 2015 wishes for HR

Topics: HRExaminer, Neil McCormick, by Neil McCormick

Neil McCormick Founding Member HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Neil McCormick Founding Member HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Well, another year is behind us. From my perspective 2014 was cram packed with interesting work and research.  Across the globe we saw significant changes in many aspects of day to day HR thinking. Much of which you’ve read about right here in HR Examiner. We’ve seen the noise and momentum increase around big data, technological disruption continue unabated as well as significant leaps in analytics. We have also noticed a more global acceptance of the need to align and add rigor to HR practices through the application of Human Resource Standards and meaningful ROI analysis.

As we have seen the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 I’ve taken somewhat of a cheeky look at the top half dozen things I’d like to see, some to begin and some to end, in 2015.

No more Silos

In reviewing HR services my team consistently discover a lack of communication across the workforce management lifecycle. It appears that the day to day noise of reactive necessity does not allow for meaningful dialog and integrated approaches even within HR. e.g.  Too often we see a technology solution or process implemented by one area, e.g. recruitment or payroll, without the slightest regard for other service lines. What eventuates is a whole range of “silos” where reporting and information are only focused on a particular stream. This “siloing” causes significant issues when it comes to building holistic reporting and analytics.  Too often the information captured is limited to the specific stream without due regard to broader workforce management requirements.

Organisation structures and technology

Stop thinking about positions and start thinking about capabilities!

The way most organisations look at workforce is through the lens of organisation structures and positions. As our world changes (workforce shortages, tight timelines, tighter budgets, continuing technological disruption, changing employee expectations and more demanding clients) we will need to be flexible in the way we utilise the capabilities of employees, contractors and temporary resources. We simply will not have the luxury of filling all positions and will have to rely on understanding what’s needed to be achieved and allocating multiple resources across our resource pool to achieve it. Most current workforce technology solutions are position centric. This will be problematic as the view we will need of the workforce of the future will potentially be capability centric. Our workforce will need to be managed to quickly adapt to changing requirements and be capable of taking on many tasks across multiple functions to achieve desired outputs. Think about how you would handle this in your current payroll and HRIS systems. In managing such a change we need to ensure our technology is people and capability centric. It’s a different way of looking at the workforce but it is a powerful way to manage workforce.

Data Validation will become mandatory

I realise I keep saying this and I must sound like a broken record, but, we keep on coming up against poor data quality. You can have the best data mining and analytics capabilities available but the GIGO principal (garbage in garbage out) still applies. If you start with poor data all you will end up with is poor analysis and reporting. The growth of technology and solutions in the analysis and reporting of workforce data is phenomenal. We are coming to rely so heavily on this analysis it is about time data quality was added to the risk register of all HR and audit functions.

Bring back “best practice” and “continuous improvement”

Has anyone noticed that the application of “best practice” and “continuous improvement” concepts have almost disappeared from workforce management vernacular? The focus of managing workforce performance rarely includes productivity improvement or best practice recognition. It’s time to bring them back! Here’s an interesting exercise. No matter your industry map the structure of your workforce over the past 5 years. Ignore the highs and lows of workforce numbers. What I’m interested in is the percentage make-up of your overall workforce. Has it changed? Should it have changed? What interventions over the past 5 years should have made it change? Why has or hasn’t it changed?

Why bother? Well, we have found many organisations are investing heavily in supposed productivity improvements (e.g. new technologies processes training etc.) only to find the same ratios of workforce to organisational results continue.

Measure the success, or not, of Workforce management interventions

New workforce management initiatives are continually funded implemented and lauded as successful. It’d be interesting if we defined what success looked like in the first instance and then continually measured if the particular initiatives actually delivered this success. We estimate ninety percent of workforce intervention outcomes are never truly measured against meaningful criteria.

From a HR perspective this adds to the difficulty HR has in proving the value of, and gaining the necessary financial support for proposed intervention efforts. Further information can be found in the HR Examiner article “The ROI debate”

Report in terms of outcomes not just processes

We recently reviewed a broad range of Workforce benchmarks. These included quite a comprehensive list of data points across the full HR services function. The reviewed benchmarks were representative of most HR and workforce reporting.  Of the over 120 benchmarks not one benchmark reflected the Objectives of any of the organisations. All were either process, (e.g. interview activity levels) or outputs (e.g. number of people placed). While these are interesting to HR they really aren’t reflective of the information executives and line managers want to have. (E.g. how the hires delivered the necessary results)

If you would like to see what types of outcomes can be reported follow this link to HR Advisory Standards and choose a stream as a guide.

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