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Using HR and IT Collaboration to Improve Talent Management

This piece originally appeared on the ATD blog.

Human Resources and IT departments haven't historically been closely linked or aligned within an organization. But as technology continues its rapid evolution, this partnership will become more important than ever. Already, 33 percent of HR teams are using some form of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and 41 percent are building mobile apps to deliver HR solutions, according to Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report—IT teams are crucial for implementing both.

Increasingly, technology also plays a key role in helping HR leaders make strategic hiring decisions, deliver just-in-time learning, and automate previously time-consuming processes. Support from IT can make these goals a reality, but it can be hard to come by, particularly for federal agencies that rely on grant programs or federal funding for tech maintenance and upgrades.

Each year, the federal government spends some $80 billion on IT systems, the majority of which goes to updating outdated, legacy systems instead of investing in new tools to benefit departments like HR. But not all government agencies are guilty of this misstep. The Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), Air Force, and Security and Exchange Commission(SEC) have been able to effectively align their IT and HR teams behind common goals, such as recruitment.

FederalNewsRadio.com took a look at how the chief human capital officers at these agencies were able to bring their HR and IT departments together in a series of articles called The Intersection Between HR and IT.Â

Automating Recruitment

Cathy Ganey, director of the Office of Human Resources, and Adriane Burton, chief information officer at the HRSA, are making recruitment and retention a priority together. To bring in qualified hires, Ganey's team holds a “pre-consult meeting" with hiring managers to review position descriptions and discuss specific needs.

Ganey admits that it was hard to get hiring managers on board at first, but once they saw the quality of candidates coming to them, they were sold. “We can sit down with the hiring managers and actually make decisions based on data moving forward," she says. “This has really changed the way we do recruitment."

Burton's team, meanwhile, has implemented automated systems that track the hiring process and generate a real-time recruitment report. The system analyzes data such as time-to-hire, which enables Ganey's team to pinpoint delays in the recruitment process and make informed decisions moving forward.

Using Data-Based Hiring Tactics

In the coming year alone, the Air Force expects to hire 1,400 new employees—no small feat. To do this, the Air Force is using a combination of traditional recruiting methods paired with cutting edge big data analytics.

“We're trying to expand our view—our ability to reach into the talent pool across the entire United States—and big data will help us do that," explains Jeff Mayo, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for force management integration. “The analytics, the niche targeting that goes along with that, are tools that we are trying to add to our toolbox for how we can reach this very specialized talent."

The organization is currently running a test in the New England region with the goal of identifying new recruitment areas. Bill Marion, Air Force deputy chief information officer and his team recently unified recruiters on a common contact management system to help Mayo's team of recruiters streamline and target their outreach based on geographic data. For example, zoning in on talent at the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition recently resulted in 250 new registrants in their system.

“The number of recruiters we have is fairly limited, so we need to use some analytical tools—and take advantage of the data that we have—to minimize that search effort, to hone us in on the specific individuals that we're looking for," Mayo explains.

Designing Future-Friendly Systems

At the SEC, Chief Information Officer Pam Dyson and Chief Human Capital Officer Lacey Dingman are working together to deploy two major human capital systems: a comprehensive Enterprise Talent Management System (ETMS) and a self-service HR system.

The HR self-service model will bring consistency to the way HR answers employees' questions and distributes information and alleviate the demand on staff, Dingman says. The ETMS, meanwhile, is an end-to-end portal for anything that workers might need throughout an employee lifecycle that will also help HR teams provide workforce support.

Throughout the deployment process of these two systems, Dyson and Dingman have strived towards flexibility, basing their decisions on what will work best in the future. “Having raw data stored in our [enterprise data warehouse] gives us a lot of leverage, opportunities and options for how we want to continue to modernize and enhance this overall lifecycle talent management system for the agency," Dyson says.

Both HR and IT teams have been involved in development since day one and have prioritized ways to become more agile. For example, they are now considering new ways staff may need to access these systems, either remotely or via smartphones. To that end, they are examining a future move to the cloud.

In order to thoroughly understand and support workforce needs across their organizations, it is essential for HR leaders like Ganey, Mayo and Dingman to have access to updated workforce management systems and data. Innovative partnerships with IT leaders like Burton, Marion and Dyson can lead to more efficient and effective workforce management, allowing government agencies to attract, manage and develop the talent they need for the future.

Photo: Creative Commons

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A New Poseidon Adventure: Flipping Succession Planning Upside Down

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A New Poseidon Adventure: Flipping Succession Planning Upside Down

Organizations make significant investments in efforts to hire the right candidates – the people who have the right experience and cultural fit. By carefully managing the performance and potential of these people over time, the organization can grow its leadership pipeline, keep a steady inventory of needed skills and competencies and remain nimble in the face of change (which we have plenty of all around us these day) – all of which can have serious impact on the bottom line. However, much of this pie-in-the-sky stuff relies on being able to locate and cultivate high-potential and high-performing talent across the board. Without an integrated succession management solution, recognizing and developing talent can be an ever-elusive process. The questions we are seeing asked today include: does the traditional top-down approach to succession management still make enough of a difference? Does managing succession for a slim strata of senior executives take full advantage of the kinds of talent data we now have at our fingertips? It doesn’t have to be so. Succession management can be an interactive process between senior leadership, managers and employees at all levels of the organization. And, if we trust them, we can actually let employees become active participants in their own career development. (Shudder.) Career Management (Succession Planning Flipped Upside Down) This "bottom-up" approach is gaining momentum because who better to tell us about employee career path preferences than employees themselves. Organizations actually have talent management and other HR systems in place that allow for collecting and analyzing a whole slew of data around: Career history Career preferences Mobility preferences Professional and special skills Education achieved Competency ratings Performance scores Goal achievement Training and certifications Etc. In short, pretty much everything we’d want to know to make well-informed succession planning and talent pooling decisions. For some, the leap is simply putting some power into the employee’s hands. The talent management system of 2011 is capable of displaying a clear internal career path for employees and then, on the basis of all that data bulleted out above, showing a "Readiness Gap" – what do you need to do to make the step to the next level? And if your talent management environment comes armed with a real Learning Management System, you can take it to the next level with a dynamically generated development plan that gets the employee on the right path to actually closing those gaps. Faster development, faster mobility. Organizations that seriously favor internal mobility don’t just make employees stick on pre-defined career paths – they can search for ANY job in the company and check their Readiness levels. I might be in accounting today, but what I really want to do is move to marketing. Giving employees the chance to explore various career avenues within the organization helps assure that "water finds its level" – that is, that the right people with the right skills and the right levels of motivation and engagement find the right job roles internally. Employee participation is key, but make no mistake – managers play an important role in this interactive process. They must be prepared to provide career coaching, identify development opportunities and recommend employees for job openings. The candid discussions require that employees have open access to information so they can best understand the criteria necessary to move to the next level. A Two-Way Street Employee-driven career management is just one tool. The more traditional top-down approach to succession management remains indispensable. But organizations that value talent mobility and the ability to be able to shift and mobilize talent resources quickly will find that attention to career pathing can be vital. For employees, of course, the impacts are immediate and include boosted levels of engagement, higher retention, increased productivity and more.

The Hidden Costs of Ignoring Your Talent Management Strategy

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The Hidden Costs of Ignoring Your Talent Management Strategy

Building and maintaining a successful company hinges on having the right people to execute projects and drive results. People, we hear time and again, are your company's most valuable asset. But their success — and HR's ability to recruit, engage and retain them — depends on HR pros who are strategic decision-makers, armed with the proper tools to let them excel at their jobs. Modern HR professionals manage much more than payroll and benefits. But their technology tools, in many cases, haven't evolved past basic productivity software like email or Microsoft Word. HR simply can't be strategic with old-school tools that reduce people to statistics and give little insight into what the numbers mean. Emails and spreadsheets were not designed to deliver meaningful insights into people's performance, suggest when employees should be promoted or highlight skills gaps in a company. For that, HR needs a broader, more strategic set of talent management tools, which lets professionals manage every aspect of the workforce, from training and performance reviews to collaboration and succession planning. Yet, research shows that less than 25% of companies use a unified, holistic approach to their talent management. The Real Costs of "Doing Nothing" As a Talent Management Strategy The critical relationship between business strategy and HR strategy too often gets overlooked by senior leadership. While it may seem like the company is saving money by managing recruiting, training, performance and succession via manual and paper-based processes, in reality it’s costing your business more than you know. For example: Without a talent management strategy, a company with 2,000 employees is losing almost $2 million every year in preventable turnover alone. Businesses that don’t invest in learning suffer from decreased employee performance and engagement to such a degree that they can expect to realize less than half the median revenue per employee. That’s a direct impact on the business. In employee performance management, organizations without a focused strategy waste up to 34 days each year managing underperformers and realize lower net income. To learn more about the business impact of talent management and how to start building out your strategy, check out the eBook Why Your Nonexistent Talent Management Strategy is Costing You Money (And How to Fix It) and register for the March 19th webinar, Building the Business Case for Talent Management.

The Return of the Moderate Merit Budget – Wreaking Havoc on Pay for Performance

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The Return of the Moderate Merit Budget – Wreaking Havoc on Pay for Performance

With the economy now on steadier ground, most organizations have returned to administering a merit budget to the pre-recession levels of 3 to 3.5%. In the years immediately following the economic downturn, many merit budgets were eliminated entirely or were reduced significantly and reserved for a select segment of the employee population. Pay for performance has become a necessity for many organizations that are expected to accomplish more with fewer resources. I often get asked: "How can I truly award my top performers with such a limited budget? Should I do so at the expense of my ’Meets Expectations’ performers? What if I need to retain my ’Meets Expectations’ performers and giving them 0% to 2% increase puts me at great risk for turnover? But if I don’t recognize my top performers, don’t I risk losing them...?" These are difficult questions to answer, however you can determine the best solution for your organization by considering the following: Are your employees paid at market pay levels? Is your organization’s performance management process mature? Does your organization have other compensation programs in place to reward top performers (e.g. variable pay)? Market Pay If turnover is a concern, and your organization needs to maintain ’bench strength’ in order to achieve its strategic objectives, your biggest priority should be to ensure that you are paying your employees at market pay levels. Why? Historically, as the labor market strengthens, organizations become vulnerable in terms of losing people. Hiring and onboarding replacement talent is not only costly to the organization, but can also cause dissension among existing employees since new hires may be getting paid more. Be sure to stay abreast of market pay levels and trends, and use the merit budget to correct disparities. Performance Management Process Organizations vary significantly in terms of the maturity of their performance management process. Closely examine your organization’s process and look for ways to improve it. If there is a perception that one management team is an ’easier grader’ than the others, the process is inherently flawed and any pay for performance program will not be viewed as credible and fair by employees. A good place to start is to get a calibration process in place and communicate broad guidelines on expected distribution ratings. Variable Pay Programs Variable pay programs (e.g. bonuses) have become increasingly more popular across all industries and career levels. These programs provide the opportunity for employees to share in the organization’s success while not adding to fixed payroll costs. Some plans have an individual performance component which can be a very effective means to recognize top performers. However, in order for this type of program to be successful, individual goals and targets must be well documented and communicated. Again, this is largely based on the maturity of the organization’s performance management process which takes time to evolve. What are the best steps to avoid wreaking havoc on your pay for performance process? First ensure your pay levels are keeping pace with the market Continue to evolve your performance programs with calibration among managers and a rigorous goal setting process Promote variable pay plans to reward high performers without adding to fixed pay roll costs It’s not always an easy journey but, in the end, it’s best to use a measured approach that is based on business needs and a realistic assessment of your current programs and processes.

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