Go paintballing and one experiences frenzied energy. You duck and dive but those balls of paint just keep coming. You seek help; make a strategy and an execution plan but it all fails when the enemy comes with full force. You play on, get bruised, exhausted
and soon the winning or losing just doesn't matter. All in all, one hopes it's all been worth it and that you have contributed.
Extrapolate the experience to a bank employee's work life and one notices a similar frenzy. Pressures have been mounting on what an employee can do, should do or is able to do. Be it the squeeze from the regulator, the government, the pressure groups or
the ever-changing digital expectations from the customer; the average bank employee today needs support.
The HR officer and a bank's senior management consequently remain troubled by a conundrum – how to drive the business while making the most of the primary asset they have, their employees?
Deloitte report emphasises the need to "measure and improve employee productivity, real time feedback and analytics". The report calls out an increased focus on "using people data to predict business performance". A number of compelling cross industry cases
have been called out including predicting unplanned absences, measuring candidate flows, risk analytics to measure communication patterns, and text analytics to measure feedback.
There is no doubt therefore that employee analytics is gaining momentum and is progressively becoming the topic of urgent debate. Coffee conversations in leading banks now include:
- how can we know if we are structured for success with an ever-changing workforce (and the ever-moving mix of permanents and contractors)?
- how do we ensure that our employees are comfortable and effective?
- can we get real time visibility of how employees are feeling / acting / behaving?
The vision is clear – "Employee 360"
While to date, employee analytics has focussed on workforce management (insight around workforce numbers) and workforce performance management (insight around learning and performance management); the future of employee analytics will be an "employee 360"
vision driven off 3 key capabilities –
- Real time insights not just about past events but predictive and early warning indicators backed by machine learning capabilities
- Ability to simulate 'safe' what-if scenarios to test and learn bank wide activity and decision making
- Collaboration cloud platforms that enable cross functional data collaboration (from the front to the back office)
To deliver such a vision however will mean taking on the challenges.
senior management involvement and sponsorship as a fundamental driver. Clearly analytics needs to be on the CEO agenda. There needs to be a 'demand' for real time intelligent insights from each of the C-suite leaders. Other challenges put forward will ofcourse
include technology limitations, data silos and other operating model challenges. These and many other 'can't do' arguments will need proactive management.
The question then is how do you go about it?
Clearly there can't be any one answer. The answer will be as good as the question you ask and the context (and current realities) of an organisation. The primary question therefore is – are the right questions being asked?
As technologies evolve, a new breed of CHROs are prioritising 'self-digitisation', and consequently a focussed list of questions is emerging that puts the employees at the heart of the discussion and forces the need for 360-degree view of every employee.
- Is the leadership and the board aware of (and celebrating) the value and contribution each employee? Are they looking at all aspects of the employee, from well-being to potential of conducting risk?
- Is the board still reviewing employee data that is 'dated'; with footnotes justifying the argument?
- Are employee decisions being made based on predictive insight (on potential patterns of the future and how the employee agenda is evolving with the business strategy)?
- Is the employee insight changing real time and enabling HR to focus on the immediate priority?
- How many in the HR team understand data analytics and will be able to leverage new employee insight?
A 'really' digital CHRO should expect these questions answered, and answered as a positive affirmative. The answers to all need to be 'we can', 'we will be able to soon' or 'we need to immediately'.
What's the next step then?
There are investments needed of course. Investment boards need now to review the portfolio and reprioritise digital spend on HR. And as that happens, the newly digitised CHRO should lead the path to 'analytical HR' by –
Exploring complementary solutions and advanced analytics platforms that do not necessarily need a fundamental core transformation of an organisation's existing IT capabilities
Starting small and identifying use cases and key questions that could immediately benefit from some real time insight
Start looking at employee data not just stored within Core HR platforms but generating employee insight from data held in other solutions of the IT estate
Understanding correlations and relationships with other data points in the organisations
Such and other similar lists can go on of course.
As I engage however with senior HR executives in banks there is an emerging acceptance of the possibilities – with developing technologies, employee management will progressively be driven by the richness of the employee analytics that enables it. The analytics
that CHROs now needs must be all encompassing – from traditional workforce data to data science driven insight.
This vision of a real time, predictive 360 view of an employee is clearly possible and possible now.
In 2017 therefore, data science and data platforms needs to become the primary focus for CHROs in banks. The outcome can be simple but potent - to re-instil the prestige, pride and potential of a bank employee; as it used to be in yester years.