image of human mind alive with colors

HR will increasingly be a quantified sport. The core notion will be that the workplace needs to know you.

The cognoscenti are beginning to show their Google glass. Oracle has a major wearables/fitness project in the labs. Sensors are shrinking while iPhones are becoming tricorders.

Social media delivers an uneven flood of insight and information. Some people use it well, some badly and many don’t use it much at all. Still, that data is available to help us understand the workforce and their capabilities.

The labor supply is reasonably well understood. Reasonably means that it’s possible to get a clear set of directional information. It also means that there is no precise answer. What’s available is useful for informing a decision. We can tell, more or less, how many of a certain type of worker is available in a given city.

Labor demand is clearer still. It’s possible to see all (or nearly all) of the jobs that have reqs. Any number of the job boards offer a good look into the question. Labor demand is the total of people who are employed in a specific job plus the requirements for additional workers.

It’s now possible to see the competition. Not long ago, it was reasonable (there’s that word again) to assume that your competition for a certain type of worker was other people in your industry. As jobs become increasingly technical, labor competition crosses industry lines.

You can assemble much of a training curriculum by acquiring You Tube links and vetting the content. This Khan Academy approach to training emphasizes short, easy to swallow course nuggets. The job of the Learning Department is to create a framework that organizes the pieces. Gone are the build your own school days. Today, the operative model is fill in the courses with publicly available stuff.

Old school performance management is a combination of a popularity contest and a method for distributing the raise pool. It’s becoming a gateway to training. The notion that some people are 5s all of the time is the single best indicator that the system is over politicized. Real people get sick, have children, get married, get divorced, go to funerals, burn out. Great performance from a great employee varies as these life events expose themselves.

Case management tools are making it possible to quantify the work of HR. By tracking and following each question with a trouble ticket, the department is beginning to collect real data on its work and performance. Five years from now, we’ll look back and wonder why we didn’t organize HR around trouble tickets from the beginning.

There’s going to be a sustained kerfuffle about whether or not data collected about employees is covered by HIPAA. Employers are going to want more and more information from and about their workers as they start personalizing work. It’s hard to say whether or not a given piece of data about a person is medical information. The lawyerly types (who are compensated by the hour and love to muddy the waters) will argue that every physical measurement is medical data. Ultimately, employers will favor employees who voluntarily agree to let themselves be measured.

Like most privacy issues, there’s a relationship between the depth of insight your tailor has and the ultimate fit of the suit. As it becomes increasingly possible to understand members of the workforce as a flow of data, employers will want to harvest that data. While there will certainly be some stupidity, most employers will want the data to improve productivity.

That means that HR will increasingly be a quantified sport. The core notion will be that the workplace needs to know you. Expect to hear the phrase “the workplace that knows its employees better than it knows its customers”.

It doesn’t stop with internal HR navel-gazing. HR can become the center of wisdom about new technologies and the market forces that shape the workforce. The 21st Century’s great companies will have HR-like functions that give employees decision making insight when and where they need it. They’ll only get there if they can quantify their people.

Read previous post:
Marc Effron, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board
No Comment

"We need far more offerings of original thought then we do evaluative comments about what others think. " - Marc Effron