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How talent optimization can help you hire and retain

January 23, 2019
4 minute read
Last updated January 29, 2019

I’m a big fan of industry reports and annual summaries that include survey data. Today I took a look at the 21st HR Metrics and Analytics Summit report: How to Hire and Retain the Right Talent in 2019. Based on the survey responses of more than 150 HR leaders from a wide range of industries, it provides insight into the current state of people analytics.

I found some interesting themes around how HR leaders think about people analytics in the workplace. Much of what I read painted a clear picture of the obvious need for talent optimization to solve business challenges and gain a competitive edge. 

Here are five takeaways from the report:

Takeaway #1: HR’s priorities are all about talent optimization.

HR leaders are focused on hiring the right people, diagnosing their engagement levels, and inspiring them so they don’t leave. The discipline of talent optimization explains how leaders can do all three of these things. 

In the report, HR leaders’ number one priority was: “Finding employees with the right knowledge to deal with a company issue.” As businesses become more agile, it’s increasingly important for them to hire people who can step in and solve problems. That’s why more and more companies are investing in tools that analyze employee data “to better hire, manage, retain, and optimize their workforce.” 

Takeaway #2: HR’s toolset for accomplishing talent optimization is weak.

Human resources leaders still rely heavily on standard HR technology tools. For accomplishing talent optimization, the top three most-used solutions are:

  1. HRIS/HRMS systems (64 percent use them, 11 percent consider them effective)
  2. Applicant tracking/recruiting software (61 percent use them, 11 percent consider them effective)
  3. Employee engagement & survey software (44 percent use them, 11 percent consider them effective)

This list is what I would expect. These tools are going to be mainstays for some time to come. But survey responses indicate that HR leaders are relying on the same old predictable tools to do their job—and it’s not working very well. In fact, 48 percent of respondents said that having “inaccurate, inconsistent, or hard-to-access data requiring too much manual manipulation” is a major obstacle to using people analytics effectively.

Talent optimization software gives leaders access to people analytics insights—allowing them to predict workplace behavior and make more strategic decisions.

Takeaway #3: HR is getting more mature about data use.

A full 59 percent of survey respondents report being proactive with data either through operational reports, dashboards, or on-demand reporting.  This is exciting and shows the increasing use of workplace analytics

Takeaway #4: Analytics have a meaningful impact in the workplace.

People analytics are incredibly valuable when used in the workplace. When used, HR leaders reported seeing improvements to the retention of top performers, gains in employee engagement, better workforce planning, and increased awareness of team growth and opportunities to promote.

In financial terms, getting these things right will have a positive impact on the business.

Takeaway #5: Businesses aren’t investing enough in workforce analytics.

HR’s 2019 priorities are noble as they try to improve hiring, retention, and engagement. They have used data, metrics, and analytics to achieve some really impressive outcomes, which have proven benefits for the business’s bottom line (e.g. more productivity, fewer turnover costs, etc.).

But even with measurable success, HR isn’t getting the budget they need to really put analytics to work.  In fact, the number one obstacle to talent analytics is a lack of adequate investment in the necessary systems; the third largest obstacle is the lack of analytic expertise and skills among HR professionals. So they aren’t getting the tools, technology, or training to really make analytics a core competency.

It’s imperative for HR leaders to do a better job showing business leaders how powerful analytics and talent optimization can be for improving business outcomes and boosting ROI.

Putting people analytics and talent optimization to work

We’ve compiled some great data to help HR leaders make the case for putting people analytics and talent optimization to work within their organization to solve business challenges.

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HR professionals are tackling the right issues to achieve talent optimization. Unfortunately, their go-to tools are still process-heavy and have a long way to go. Even so, HR leaders are getting better about making a very real impact using the data they collect in a proactive way.

Despite evidence that using analytics will improve the company’s bottom line, HR leaders aren’t getting the talent optimization budget they need to master analytics further. The longer companies wait to invest, the more they will lose out as other more forward-thinking companies make their talent data a competitive advantage and a part of their core business strategy.