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Know Your Employees

By James Bryce, Global Head of Workforce Planning & Talent Acquisition, Kantar

James Bryce, Global Head of Workforce Planning & Talent Acquisition, Kantar

There is a convergence in the world of work now. This interplay is between the consumer experience that employees get when they interact with retailers and the experience they get at work— the two are very different. Take train travel, a common experience made easier by travel apps, Google maps, online ticket retailers, and automated updates whilst travelling. Why is it often easier to book a train ticket online than it is through your company’s travel portal, even more so when you compare the ease of online banking and the difficulty with which you obtain a P45/P60 or historical payslip?

Ultimately organizations that link consumer, customer experience and employee experience will better serve their people and in turn, deliver a more engaged and productive workforce.

But how do we get there? Large retailers invest significant sums of money in understanding customer choice and people’s behaviour. These budgets are out of reach for 99% of HR teams and business leadership. How can you build a better understanding of your workforce without investing millions of dollars in consumer research and behavioural science?

As an employing organization, we are in the enviable position of supporting our people for five days out of every seven in a week. We work with most people for an average of 40 hours a week assuming 8 hours work, 8 hours play, and 8 hours rest! The interactions, behaviours, and choices are evident through a multitude of sources, floor plate occupancy, email traffic, calendar transactions, social media interactions, employee choices, and survey data obtained at various points during the year. If you overlay these variables with elements of your commercial and business performance, then inevitably you will build a better and more thorough understanding of your organization, teams, and individuals.

“Ultimately organizations that link consumer, customer experience and employee experience will better serve their people and in turn, deliver a more engaged and productive workforce”

For example, you may know that your millennial tenure is low, but how low, how does this compare to other organizations, what do leavers say about your business and what impact does this have on your employer brand? Once you have understood the volume, frequency, and location of these leavers perhaps you can calculate the costs (both direct and indirect) of the leavers before making changes to benefit schemes, promotion rates, and pay awards. If you understand the drivers of these behaviours, then you stand a better chance of shaping the consumer’s opinions early.

Of course, there is an ethical perspective to this—the contract and deal which is struck with the employee, a covenant that exists where you commit to using employee data legally and with integrity whilst acting in the employee’s interests. This becomes harder when you look at utilization and productivity data or metrics such as net revenue per employee and you begin to use financial measures to assess the efficiency of your resource allocations and recruitment planning. A way to address these issues is to maintain transparency and trust in the metrics used. When communicated and sponsored by leadership, workforce metrics can be incredibly empowering and used to reassure and build confidence in teams. For instance, rather than reviewing individual requisitions and hiring plans, you monitor the aggregate of hiring decisions at the appropriate level. This enables managers to act with discretion and in an informed way much more quickly than in a high control framework. Another solution is to democratize workforce data and give everyone access to the type of analysis and insights management finds useful. An example of this might be a flight risk or attrition analysis by Line Manager/ Team or a dashboard of all recruitment activities so that the hiring managers can see where their requisition is in a workflow (or not!). By providing access to your team leads and line managers, we are making the workforce management data and use of metrics utilitarian and commonplace rather than needing a specialist.

As people data becomes more prevalent and access to information on employee behaviour increases, it is a great chance to build deeper and more meaningful insights into our people.

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