As you head towards the boardroom table each week, do you have to data at your fingertips to answer your CEO’s questions? It’s not good enough to be making educated guesses or to ‘get back to’ your peers and boss. Technology and real time information drive businesses with a constant eye on the bottom line.
The year is starting on a gloomy note for some. Oil prices are down, the Aussie and Canadian dollars are weak and many traditional industry sectors are suffering from the follow on effects from the end of the mining and oil booms. All these trends only highlight the need for HR to step up its game and move towards data based decision making.
You may feel behind the eight ball now but there’s a lot you can do to strengthen your company’s HR capabilities in a down market.
If it’s important to the business, it will happen
Few businesses wait for the heady, profitable times to invest in creating efficiencies like lean, six sigma, safety and other compliance or preventive programs. They invest because there’s a bottom line business need for change. Technology gives them greater oversight and line of sight to issues which impact profitability. The investment in human capital is the greatest on-going expense within a business. Do you have the tools to see the impact of variability in performance, engagement and training on your business bottom line for each employee? For each team? For each division? Or are you still counting heads and HR expenses? If this information is important to the business, technology investment will happen regardless of the economic climate.
Fool me twice – shame on me
Feeling pinched to trim staff but without the right information to make smart choices? No one likes to be caught with their figurative pants down. If you need to downsize, right size, terminate or retrench your workforce, most likely Finance is setting the $ mark or % reduction but HR will get the blame. Even with the best anecdotal and performance information, companies inevitably sever talent and relationships they regret in the future. You may not have the data to make laser sharp, employee by employee decisions now but you’ll kick yourself if you’re caught without the insight next time.
Sever or stretch
Business slowdowns always hit support functions the hardest – IT, HR, Marketing etc. These are exactly the right skills sets to understand, embrace and implement analytics systems. Instead of watching your investment in their talent walk out the door – along with their severance payments – use these ‘surplus’ employees to work with the CHRO to scope, research and launch your HR analytics. Not the right people? Then re-assign the mundane, compliance, admin work to this lot and get your A team on the project to give them some stretch assignments and boost their engagement and your ultimate talent ROI.
One step back, two steps forward
The economy may be putting you on your back foot but companies who survive have learnt that adverse conditions mark the perfect time to increase efficiencies and invest in key talent, IP and marketing. Undertaking an HR analytics implementation when business is slow may give you access to underutilised resources, skilled talent who have left other roles and time to build your own skill level and knowledge. Investing now to become a data driven organisation will put you two steps ahead of your competition when the economy picks up.
Now is the time to take the next step in your strategic HR plan focused on business outcomes, not just HR outcomes. Take the time to understand the immediate business needs of your organisation and put together your business case. There are so many HR solutions, systems and vendors in the market that you will have no end of options to propose.