Tag Archives: Aberdeen Group

Automated Workforce Planning: Tactical or Strategic?

Data Point Tuesday

An organization’s most critical assets are its employees. No one bothers to argue against that point any more. An organization’s workforce is also, however, its most expensive asset, and workforce management (the development of employees, retention of skilled talent, etc.) is consistently cited as one of the top issues facing organizations today. In a recent Aberdeen report, 60% of all organizations reported a need to improve workforce planning capabilities as a driver of their total workforce management efforts.

Pressures Driving TWM

Improving workforce planning capabilities took the top spot for pressures driving workforce management efforts, but better access to workforce data (in order to improve decision-making) was close behind, 60% vs. 52%. In our current “golden age of technology” there are ample workforce management technology solutions that can help organizations with workforce management, from timekeeping and leave of absence management to labor forecasting and analytics. The adoption of automated workforce management solutions though (as with other tech solutions) has been slow among organizations. Aside from the fact that the global workforce is rapidly driving towards a place where technology and automated workforce solutions will be a necessity for companies to remain innovative and successful, we have data that show – on a much simpler level – that workforce management technology is a good investment because it offers organizations multiple financial benefits.

Research shows that the use of automated time, attendance, and scheduling solutions results in 8% to 20% lower replacement costs (as a percentage of annual pay) for hourly workers, which can be attributed to the reduced cost of administration needed to manually manage such functions. Aberdeen’s research also found that average revenue per full time employee increased four times in organizations with automated absence/leave management technology and two times for organizations with automated scheduling, time, and attendance technology.

Automation Impact GraphOrganizations that automate scheduling, time/attendance and leave/absence management also saw increases in customer satisfaction levels ranging from 9.2% to 10.4% (compared to a 2.9% to 6.2% range of improvements for organizations that did not have automated solutions).

Automated workforce management solutions can also help to reduce unplanned overtime. While it’s expected of organizations to experience some overtime, having an inaccurate idea of what employees schedules will look like can quickly increase an organization’s spending. Best in class organizations experience less than 4% of unplanned overtime costs in comparison with 27% for laggard organizations. Automated solutions can help managers with critical scheduling accuracy, freeing them to give more time and attention to core business needs.

Unplanned-Overtime-Costs

Another benefit for organizations that use automated time and attendance software is greater workforce capacity utilization. These companies have employees who, on average, work at 12% more their capacity than those who rely on manual processes or spreadsheets (83% vs. 74%). Automated leave and absence management additionally helps to lower costs by accurately tracking employees’ time off, making sure PTO is recorded as it is taken (ensuring for example, that employees are not owed leave at the end of the year they’ve earned but not taken) and by providing organizations with software to properly submit and track leave and absence requests (mitigating the impact of planned/unplanned losses).

A May 2014 report by Aberdeen found that optimizing scheduling is a key attribute of leading firms. These firms experienced consecutive years of improvement in customer satisfaction by 17.8% compared to firms who did not have a focus on optimizing scheduling and actually lowered their customer satisfaction rates by an average of -3.9%. This should be the key take-away for organizations when it comes to automated workforce management solutions – we know that automated workforce management software can drastically help organizations to improve and optimize scheduling, and this is a key attribute of successful companies. And if the slow adoption of automated solutions comes from a concern that instituting such software could turn into a micro-managing nightmare, organizations should note that, as with all tools, its about how you introduce them and support their adoption. The potential benefits of automated solutions far out-way any cons, so dipping a foot in the automated solutions pool seems well worth the risk, even if it may require an investment in training and change management. We’re already witnessing the expansion of HR and administrative roles within organizations; these functions are providing organizations with instrumentally more strategic value than they have in the past. Free up these departments time and energy from consuming workforce management tasks like monitoring attendance/leave and scheduling, and see what happens when tactical, manual roles become automated and enable more strategic data analysis and insight to enter the mix!

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under #HRTechTrends, Aberdeen Group, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Workforce Management, Workforce Planning, Workplace Studies

Candidates First, Employees Second and Customers Third?

Data Point Tuesday
The candidate experience is a growing priority. Between 2013 and 2014, organizations increased their amount of focus on building strong relationships with candidates by more than five times. But the Aberdeen Group opines in their recent report, “Why the Candidate Experience Needs to be a Priority ASAP,” organizations still need to up their ante. No matter the industry, a candidate’s application experience should be a top priority simply because their perceptions of the process (whether they get the job or not) can have a serious impact on an organization’s brand, customers, and success. In this hyper-connected age of social media, it can take only one voice to significantly damage a big brand…

The importance of the candidate experience is not lost on Best-in-Class organizations. These companies are 30% more likely to invest in new technologies such as social, mobile and video to make recruiting engaging for candidates, in comparison with all other organizations (60% vs. 46%).

Game Changing TechIt’s also more likely that Best-in-Class organizations (compared with all other organizations) will focus on the development of a talent community to reach candidates and improve the candidate experience. Talent Communities, groups of active potential candidates that can regularly engage with the organization through technology (online portals, email, mobile etc.) are one of the fastest growing areas of talent acquisition. Aberdeen reports that 40% of organizations (respondents from a recent talent acquisition survey) plan to increase their investment in talent communities over the next twelve months.

Aberdeen’s research finds that besides overcoming the skills gap in today’s talent pool, improving the candidate experience is ranked by businesses, overall, as the most critical talent acquisition issue. How this knowledge is reflected within organizations, however, is a different story. Just 21% of companies in Aberdeen’s report indicated that the candidate experience/building strong relationships with candidates were a top priority for 2014, although this was a significant jump from 2013 where only 4% of organizations reported this.

Besides the perception of an organization, having a great candidate experience process can also mean improved cost-per-hire. Aberdeen’s study found that organizations prioritizing the candidate experience are twice as likely to improve their cost-per-hire and are expected to have a larger budget for talent acquisition efforts in the coming year (compared to organizations who do not prioritize the candidate experience).

 Budget ImpactCandidates expect much of the same things as consumers, for example, in ease of use and clear user-interfaces. In a 2013 study by Aberdeen, 62% of Best-in-Class organizations reported giving candidates visibility into their application status through resources like automated emails and online platforms like candidate career portals (although just 33% of organizations feel they have an engaging career portal). According to another 2013 study from Aberdeen, candidates who start as customers of the companies they apply to are 3.2 times more likely to describe their relationship as an applicant as positive rather than negative.

A good way to think about whether or not your organization is prioritizing the candidate experience may be to ask if candidates are treated with a comparable amount of respect and attention as customers. If they are, it likely means that the candidate experience it something that’s planned ahead for, as an organization would plan for potential customers. Most organizations do not plan ahead when it comes to the candidate experience however, with Aberdeen citing 60% of organizations only recruit talent when there is an opening, instead of having a talent community of active candidates that can be tapped into as needed. Organizations should take heart that creating a focused and engaging candidate experience does not need to be a difficult process. Contemporizing the process with technology (building a talent community and active pipeline) is an important step, but organizations can start also to prioritize the experience by changing the system they have in place now. This could mean catering to the highly connected, tech savvy candidates of today by not only reaching out to them post-application and interview, but also soliciting feedback from them during the application process (helping organizations better understand holes in their candidate experience). Sometimes it’s the simplest aspects of an application process that have the most impact. Respondents of a recent candidate experience survey by Aberdeen reported that the best, candidate friendly companies:

  • Send a thank you note after an application is completed
  • Ensure candidates can effectively exhibit their qualifications
  • Share next steps (whether that’s moving forward or a courteous decline)
  • Allow candidates to provide feedback about the overall experience

The work that Gerry Crispin, Elaine Orler and Ed Newman have done notwithstanding, does your organization really care about “the candidate experience”? Does creating a talent community really matter when you need to fill positions? Will treating job applicants like customers really make a difference in your ability to attract, hire and deploy the talent you need to meet your organizations strategic objectives? The data are beginning to provide clear evidence that, to paraphrase Vineet Nayar, perhaps candidates come first, employees second and customers third….

3 Comments

Filed under Aberdeen Group, CandE Awards, Candidate Experience, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Workplace Studies

Empowering Business Leaders as Talent Leaders

Data Point Tuesday
A new research brief by Aberdeen Group looking at Human Capital Management trends for 2014 highlights that talent acquisition, specifically the scarcity of talent available in the external marketplace, is the biggest driver of HCM strategy today. In 2013 we saw a lot of discussion around talent acquisition (in another report by Aberdeen shortages of key skills were cited as a top challenge by 64% of respondents, up 55% from 2011) and as the economy continues to recover in 2014 it appears this trend will continue. What are organizations doing to combat this? According to the report, the most commonly cited strategy by respondents involved developing front-line business leaders as talent leaders to create a vital connection between talent strategy and business execution. The reasoning plays out in a connect-the-dots, A to B, the knee-bone’s connected to the hip-bone, fashion. If employees with the greatest ability to see both business needs and the skills/capabilities of the talent on the ground (front-line leaders) are empowered as talent leaders, it ensures communication between HR and business leaders around talent initiatives and increases the chance of identifying gaps in business strategy.

There’s data to back up this strategy. A study conducted by Aberdeen last year found that top-performing organizations were 73% more likely than all other organizations to have dedicated learning programs for front-line leaders and committed 40% more of their training time to leadership skills. As the brief points out though, for the strategy to succeed it is important front-line leaders are given the necessary support and tools to handle talent processes as well as day-to-day business goals. Technology and automated performance tools provide a plausible solution to this concern, offering greater efficiency to workforce processes. Currently, 56% of organizations report that line of business leaders are accountable for talent management initiatives such as hiring, developing, and performance management within their teams. As you can see in the below graphic, this accountability pays off, increasing businesses likelihood of having employee development plans in place, offering a higher number of employees that exceed performance expectations, and seeing greater retention of high performers (which is especially important at a time when talent scarcity is a top concern).

Accountability Yields Talent Results

1 Comment

Filed under Aberdeen Group, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Human Capital, Talent Acquisition

Get With the Program — the Development Program!

data point tuesday_500

“Learning is not a one-time experience but an ongoing process.” This is one of the overarching ideas in a recent report written by Mollie Lombardi from Aberdeen, which examines the business impact of organizations focus on learning programs. The study is based on a collection of responses from 185 organizations and seeks to determine how organizations connect learning to business priorities, create development programs that impact every stage of the employee lifecycle, and utilize technology to support learning initiatives.  The study concludes that there is a definite correlation between organizational success and a high focus on learning initiatives. Let’s look at some of the specifics of this report…

Most HR professionals – as well as many other organization leaders – inherently recognize the importance of building/developing talent within, especially at a time when the economy is still recovering and our new generation of hires is consistently heralded as “lazy,” “entitled” or “unready” for the workforce. It shouldn’t surprise us then that the #1 pressure driving learning initiatives in all organizations surveyed is the need for more leadership talent, with the #2 pressure driving learning initiatives coming from the lack of critical skills in the marketplace, which requires development from within. While I think the general negativity surrounding Millennials is misplaced, it is generally understood that a new college hire will require some training to become an effective member of the workforce.

According to Aberdeen’s research, 40% of organizations say that their college hires will require additional training and coaching, and 29% say they will have to spend significant time training and developing new college hires. It should surprise us then when we find out that only 19% of organizations have programs for new college hires and only 36% have dedicated leadership programs for emerging leaders. These employee groups are effectively cited as the top two groups requiring training/development, so why the lack of programs in place to do this? The data clearly support that organizations understand the importance of focusing on learning programs, however, it also indicates that there are problems with organizations’ abilities to implement these programs.

We should use this disconnect to critically examine own our organizations and take a moment to reflect on the factors we know to be important (like learning initiatives). We may acknowledge the importance, even necessity, of such programs, but we should question whether this knowledge is actually being implemented or just internalized. If there is disconnect between awareness and implementation, the question then becomes how to fix it. The data is this report suggests we look to what best in class organizations are doing, and in the case of learning initiatives, a few factors stand out. Best in class organizations are 78% more focused than laggard organizations on providing a more consistent development experience at all career levels, and they are visibly less concerned than industry average or laggard organizations on more closely linking programs to business goals and defining /building a consistent set of competencies to guide development.

Nov 12 fig 2

While these findings may be surprising at first glance, they may suggest that best in class organizations have already been able to link programs to business goals and develop a consistent set of competencies to guide development. This in turn has allowed them the freedom to focus more attention on having dedicated learning programs for individuals at all stages of the employee life cycle.  In the least, the data here can provide a broad set of steps for laggard and industry average organizations to follow in order to reap the benefit of learning initiatives. An added bonus of successfully instituted learning programs? Organizations that use learning programs also see improved performance in employee engagement, their ability to fill leadership positions with internal candidates, and their ability to retain talent.

Nov 12 fig 3

Getting with the program and focusing on the development of talent may seem obvious to you and me – but evidently not so much.

2 Comments

Filed under Aberdeen Group, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Learning/Development, Mollie Lombardi

Onboarding: Not Rocket Science

data point tuesday_500

As HR and other leaders grapple with high turnover rates among the Gen Y cohort (see last week’s post here), all kinds of issues get raised. Is the turnover due to “special” characteristics inherent in Gen Y? Is the turnover due to lack of education and training opportunities? Naivete on the part of Gen Y – the world of work doesn’t match their expectations? Could a lack of thoughtful onboarding play a part?

The Aberdeen Group published Onboarding 2013: A new Look at New Hires last month and author Madeline Laurano provides data that might help organizations become more effective in retaining the youngest of their workforce.

First of all, Aberdeen reports that only 37% of employers have invested in a formal onboarding program for longer than two years. Surveys report that it’s difficult to quantify the ROI on formal onboarding programs so “basic orientation” activities are used in substitution. Socializing new hires into the organization’s culture is popular, but hard to measure. And so, “onboarding programs have fallen short and become little more than a transition from recruitment to employee development.” Interesting.

But attention is starting to be paid and, surprise!, it’s all about productivity. One of the quickest routes to ROI is the improvement of productivity and that’s something organizations can measure. Other drivers for looking at new ways to onboard new hires include improving employee engagement, reducing turnover and improving new hire assimilation.

But, as the graph below shows, there’s lots of opportunity to make onboarding programs more robust, strategic and productive by spending more time.

Aberdeen Group Onboarding 2013 Fig 3

And it doesn’t have to be rocket science! The kinds of strategies being used to drive stronger onboarding programs include the following:

  • Creating new hire checklists
  • Introducing new hires to the go-to people
  • Providing forms to new hires before day one
  • Ensuring compliance on all new hire forms
  • Creating peer networking opportunities/events

But the real key appears to be creating a bridge from the candidate experience to learning/development and performance management. After offer acceptance, Best-in-Class employers are more than twice as likely than all other organizations “to integrate data from onboarding into performance management, providing key stakeholders with development plans of new hires and to tie the source of a candidate to their performance as an employee.”

Aberdeen Group Onboarding 2013 Fig 11

But still, only 26% of Best-in-Class employers enroll new hires in learning and development programs compared to 11% of all others. Hmmm….

Laurano concludes the report with recommended actions for employers in Best-in-Class, Average and Laggard categories. For the Average and Laggard categories they are not rocket science. For the Best-in-Class category, a little rocket science might be involved.

Laggard Steps to Onboarding Success

  • Establish a clear owner
  • Provide strong visibility
  • Extend the onboarding process

Industry Average Steps on Onboarding Success

  • Align onboarding with learning initiatives
  • Define metrics in advance
  • Invest in onboarding technology

Best-in-Class Steps to Onboarding Success

  • Consider gamification
  • Include cross-boarding
  • Balance tactical and strategic elements

Think about these as you and other leaders in your organization wrestle with the high turnover rate in your Gen Y employees. And take a look at this report.

Aberdeen Group reports are very easily consumed. They’re written in normal English and have an easy to understand structure. Even if you can’t spend real money to make your onboarding program more productive, you can certainly get smarter about what works and make some adjustments based on data to improve your outcomes. That’s the whole point of research, right?

6 Comments

Filed under Aberdeen Group, Candidate Experience, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Gen Y, HR Data, Onboarding, Turnover

Wake Up and Smell the Quality of Hire!

All eyes are focused on talent acquisition these days because:

  • The talent pipeline is dwindling
  • Our education system doesn’t prepare young people for actual work
  • Baby Boomers are about to take a hike and never look back
  • Millennials’ tenure averages  18 months
  • Facebook is the new Monster (not)
  • LinkedIn is the new Career Builder (not)
  • Job seekers won’t fill out application forms any more
  • Passive candidates are where the action is
  • Unless you have an online talent community your organization won’t be able to compete successfully for talent
  • Students graduating from college only want to work for Google

These are just a few of the things we “know” about talent acquisition these days.  Some might even be true – or close to true.  But what most definitely is true is that the pressure for talent acquisition performance is building.

Analyst Madeline Laurano’s recent report Stratgic Talent Acquisition:  Are You Prepared to Hire the Best? from the Aberdeen Group is a great place to start if you’re starting to feel the pressure.  The data is current, the analysis is fascinating and the conclusions will get you started in the right direction with a clear picture of the end state.

I especially like the Aberdeen Group’s research model that identifies Best-in-Class Performance, Competitive Maturity Assessment and Required Actions.  It’s a great approach for any research as it provides the high points with guideposts for action and recognizable benchmarks to measure progress.

Because so much attention and discussion is currently focused on talent acquisition, I think the three key performance criteria that Laurano shows distinguish Best-in-Class performance will make any HR professional wake up and smell the coffee:

  • 91% of first year employees were retained
  • 86% of key positions were filled internally
  • 23% year-over-year improvement in hiring management satisfaction

Really.  86% of key positions filled internally?  On what planet?  That’s effective talent management right there.

As you read the report, it comes as no surprise, then, that the big new bottom line is this:  Quality of Hire – not time-to-fill or cost-per-hire – is the game changer.  Focus on that, and you’ll have a direct line to profitability.  And retention.  And performance.  And the ability to develop talent internally.

So, for the 97% (!) of organizations that have no long-term approach to talent acquisition, taking an hour to read this report could give you what you need to move your talent acquisition results to a new level of effectiveness and business impact.  So plug in the coffee maker.  It’s time to wake up and smell the Quality of Hire!

5 Comments

Filed under Aberdeen Group, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Quality of Hire, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management