Workforce Analytics Help Companies Find, Retain Employees

3 minute read
Marisa Peacock avatar

In a competitive, global market, finding the right talent isn't always easy. Even when you hire qualified workers, you may not be able to retain them.

It's hard to escape the onslaught of media coverage lamenting the lack of skilled employees in today's workforce. A new report examines the effects talent management has on the abilities of organizations to compete.

Whether it's finding the right talent to fuel the the US manufacturing renaissance  or solving the acute shortage of workers to build and fix things in Canada, companies find it hard to hire the right people for the right jobs. Enter workforce analytics.

Building a Better Workforce

The report, Connecting Workforce Analytics to Better Business Results, was sponsored by SumTotal, a provider of Learning Management (LMS), Talent Management and Human Capital Management (HCM). In it, Harvard Business Analytics Services explores the connection between advanced analytics and the abilities of employers to manage their workforces most effectively. It also examines why some companies have failed to use analytics to build and empower best-in-class workforces.

Workforce analytics are integrated capabilities — technologies, metrics, data, and processes — to measure and improve workforce performance. The goal is to put the right people with the right skills in the right positions, provide them with the necessary training and development opportunities and engage and empower them to perform at their highest levels.

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The report found only 13 percent of businesses use predictive modeling that ties workforce data to organizational performance and integrate the reporting into other key enterprise systems. Since companies who invest in developing and managing talent are more likely to claim they outperform their competitors on a number of key metrics, including quality, customer satisfaction, profitability and market share, that low number is surprising. 

But programs to enhance workforce effectiveness have had hard times gaining traction. For these programs to work, there has to be broad understanding of the benefits they offer and commitments to both their general goals and the specific programs that will deliver them. Even then, it's challenging: many advanced analytics users report they still strive to cultivate work cultures that demonstrate a commitment to flexibility, collaboration and engagement.

Learning Opportunities

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Engage, Empower

A few years ago, companies struggled to embrace the era of the empowered employee. Now, they're struggling to provide employees with the right amount of support so they feel empowered to solve problems. The report states:

While executives used different terms to describe what they mean by engagement, it fundamentally boils down to having a workforce that feels invested in the organization and is therefore motivated from within to help it succeed. Engaged employees take initiative to solve problems and they want to do the right thing. 'It’s the test of the piece of paper on the floor,' said the vice president of workforce management implementation at the global food services company. 'Do they walk by it, pick it up — or were they the ones who dropped it in the first place?'"

While it is important to measure the productivity of a workforce, qualitative research is needed as well. For example, chief executives should engage with employees in real life and in real time, find the right rewards and set up the right systems to encourage desired behaviors and minimize unwanted ones.

In short, connecting analytics to workforce performance can help organizations better understand issues and obstacles, as well as develop strategies to improve talent acquisition and management.

Title image by Vectora Art /Shutterstock.

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