Uncovering the value in workforce data with analytics

For one consumer goods company, the difference between the performances of its sales regions was a head scratcher to the executive team. There was a consistent and significant gap between the productivity metrics across two of its sales regions...

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For one consumer goods company, the difference between the performances of its sales regions was a head scratcher to the executive team. There was a consistent and significant gap between the productivity metrics across two of its sales regions and they needed to know why.

The company turned to its outsourcing provider who, as a result of their long-term relationship, was sitting on a mountain of data concerning the company and was perfectly poised to help determine the reasons for the disparity and remedy the problem. While on the surface the workforces in both regions appeared to have the right skill sets and the sales teams were meeting objectives, the service provider employed workforce analytics capabilities to dig deeper.

Drilling into the data on performance ratings revealed that approximately 25 percent of the managers in the low performing region fell below expectations. It was found that exceptions had been made in the hiring process and a high percentage of managers lacked the required level of education.

Based on this information, the provider recommended the following: assess the region’s leadership to ensure their skills match the role; update job profiles to match characteristics of higher performing sales personnel in other regions; allow fewer exceptions to hiring criteria; and consider a rotational assignment to infuse skills and model behaviours within the low performing region.

This example illustrates how outsourcing providers can help organisations move from information to insight to achieve better business outcomes.

To start this workforce analytics journey, organisations first need to:

  • Identify the end goal. End-to-end or targeted business analytics? Is it on-demand HR reporting? Somewhere in between? In tandem, it’s important to determine what questions and challenges need to be addressed. Is it looking for a “root cause?” Understanding what the organisation wants to achieve will ensure more than just more data.
  • Determine what resources are available to deliver against the analytics agenda. Does the internal team have the skills and capacity? Is the data complete and accurate? Is there a common definition across the HR function, countries and business units? Is there access to analytics resources to connect with key business threads? If the answer to any of these questions is no, an outsourcer may be able to help

Once the need for an analytics partner is determined, potential providers should be evaluated based on their functional and strategic experience and expertise, which should extend beyond the traditional HR borders to ensure actionable insights.

Functionally, the chosen provider should be able to:

  • Perform a gap analysis to determine where the organisation is today versus where it should be based on its goals and business performance objectives.
  • Bring together data from disparate sources, creating a central repository, normalising the data, and making sure there is a common definition across the entire workforce.

From a strategic perspective, the provider should have the ability to:

  • Apply deep industry expertise and functional insights to report and analyse trends and patterns. A great deal of the value derived from analytics is based on aggregating data that might otherwise be analysed independently and drawing conclusions about relationships.
  • Complete the analysis in multiple dimensions, for example by country, business unit, product/service line, hiring manager, cost center, workforce type, so that findings are specific and actionable.
  • Outline corrective actions and calculate a projected return-on-investment, providing quantified results based on the analytics findings and corrective actions.

By leveraging workforce analytics, companies can analyse, forecast, acquire and develop talent demand and supply to meet the changing business dynamics of their organisation, taking a more fact-based approach to drive workforce productivity and ultimately business results. Taking a collaborative approach with an outsourcing provider helps get to the nuts and bolts of data, discovering trends and insights that can help the organisation directly and indisputably link workforce performance to measurable business outcomes.

Posted by Jill Goldstein, HR BPO offering lead at Accenture

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