Blog Post

Your HR Business Case Was Approved—Here’s How to Actualize It

Shawn Flynn

AVP of Global Thought Leadership & Advisory Services, Cornerstone OnDemand

Congratulations—you received approval on your HR business case and budget. Now what? What if I told you that you have less than a 50% chance of achieving what you got approved? Would you feel good about going back to your executive team in one, two or three years and asking for the same budget again? In my humble opinion, I would say "No," but then again, I’m not much of a gambler with delivering on a commitment.

According to a recent PwC HR Tech Survey, less than half of all respondents said they achieved 76% or more of what went into their HR Cloud business case. This is not an encouraging result when you are competing for budget or trying to expand it.

With our problem in front of us, I offer these ideas as a starting point for overcoming the odds and achieving the goals you set in your business case:

1) Baseline, Baseline, Baseline

As anyone who has bought or sold a home knows: "Location, location, location." The same logic applies to baselining—sometimes it matters more than the business case itself. Often, however, we pay so much attention to what goes into a business case, that there’s not enough focus on establishing and documenting a pre-change starting point.

Instead, you should leverage the critical thinking you put into your business case and baseline the data that supported your pre-change estimates before any change occurs. I would suggest making whether or not you can baseline a criterion for determining if a calculation goes into your business case at all. If you cannot defend your estimated improvements, savings and revenue, you are setting yourself up for an uphill battle when it comes time to maintain or expand your budget.

Further, by baselining and measuring against your baseline, you speed up responsiveness to lagging indicators that are important to your talent processes, and to the business. For those interested in learning more about the role of lagging (and leading) indicators on value measures in HR, there is a great piece written by Dr. Tom Tonkin, principal, thought leadership & advisory services at Cornerstone OnDemand, that goes deeper on that point.

Why is speeding up responsiveness important? It is better to know early in the process that you are behind where you thought you would be. It provides you with time to reflect and gauge what may be the cause. Often, for example, the problem is that there hasn’t been enough time allotted for change management or user adoption.

2) Crawl, Walk, Run

HR and talent teams struggle to leap immediately to effectiveness measures such as "Productivity or Revenue by Employee" or "CSAT/NPS Improvement." (There is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness measures that I cover in this post for those who are interested in learning more). My quick and simple recommendation is to start small (efficiency) and build to strategic actions (effectiveness). Turnover is an excellent example and a measure that is frequently scrutinized. Turnover, by itself, is something most companies measure, but what about turnover of your highest performing employees?

To begin baselining the effectiveness of improving high performer turnover, start by identifying turnover data in critical areas of the business where this might be a problem. Then drill down and ask if you can segment that by low/medium/high performers. (The cost to replace a high performing employee can be 90-200% of their annual salary according to SHRM’s "A Guide to Analyzing and Managing Employee Turnover.") With that information baselined, you can begin working to track and measure uplift in other more strategic measures.

3) Don’t Wait to Align With the Business—Start Early

There is plenty of research out there that supports the importance of HR/Talent being aligned to the business, but I point you to this blog post if this is an area of particular interest.

But simply put, illustrating the connectedness between Business and HR/Talent Priorities requires a) an understanding of business priorities and b) insight into how HR initiatives support them.

When you think about turnover, for example, there’s rarely just one initiative that can improve it. Rather, it is typically a combination of efforts. The point is to work early to think about what measures and data are required to build your HR/Talent value story so that when it comes time to present what you’ve done, you have both a strong qualitative story and a very authoritative quantitative impact story to tell. For a visual on how to consider structuring your HR/Talent Value Story, see the third part of my three-part blog series on the topic.

With these points in mind, I offer two closing questions to reflect on:

Do you know the impact your HR/Talent practices are delivering for your business?

Are you prepared to defend your investment when asked?

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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy

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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy

Social media is ubiquitous, and companies are using it in many different and innovative ways for enhancing their sales, marketing and customer services. So why is it then that many HR departments still fail to see social media as more than a job board? Outside of the office, the same HR people happily engage with friends on Facebook, share news and ideas on Twitter, look at pictures on Instagram and send snaps on Snapchat. But when they put their work hat on they seemingly forget why they use social in the way they (and hundreds of millions of other users) do every day, and resort back to just posting jobs (in a boring way) on social media! Of course there is nothing wrong with job posting, and it's often an effective approach to reaching an audience, but not all of the time. According to LinkedIn, only 12 percent of the working population are actively seeking new employment. So, if all you do is post jobs on your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook page, you are consciously ignoring the other 88 percent of the working population who might be interested in hearing more about your company in general. Creating and sharing interesting content about your company such as employee stories or volunteer days help bring your employer brand to life. It might even trigger people to reach out to you and find out more about your job opportunities. In truth, mixing up your social media feeds with a variety of content will provide more depth and candidate engagement. Here are four ways to expand your social media strategy and engage with new potential candidates. 1) Candidate Sourcing With people using an average of more than five social networks, sourcing talent via social media makes absolute sense. Branch out from just using LinkedIn and look to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to search for and engage with prospective talent. Try search tools like Followerwonk to search Twitter bios for keywords and job titles, a clever Chrome browser extension called Intelligence Search that easily searches Facebook and using the search bar at the top of Google+. They will help you identify new talent. If you are looking to build social media pipelines then try Hello Talent. It is a great free tool that allows you to build talent pipelines from many different social networks by using a browser extension. 2) Competitor Monitoring Social media is a fantastic source of information and data. By using tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can monitor the social media activity of your competitors. Both of these tools allow you to set up search columns, where you can enter things like keywords, hashtags, Twitter names and track when any of these are mentioned on sites such as Twitter. You can use the interact or use the insights accordingly. 3) Resources for Candidates Consider your Facebook page (or Twitter channel) as a real-time customer services channel for you to engage and communicate with both new and existing candidates in the recruitment process. Provide links to your social media pages to candidates at all stages in the process and encourage them to visit the pages and ask questions about any part of the process. You can also share useful information about working for the company, including locations, employees and other relevant news. 4) Live Recruitment Events Not everyone can attend the many recruitment events happening every month. But by using social media like Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram and Snapchat, you can easily provide live commentary for these events you attend or host. Real-time video via Facebook Live and interaction via Twitter chats are superb examples of ways to regularly engage with a live audience of potential candidates. With social media firmly established in our working lives, I question how much more evidence HR departments will need to fully embrace this "new" form of candidate engagement. Photo: Twenty20

Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting

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Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Missed the Recruiting Trends conference? From the state of recruiting automation adoption, to the role that the human element still plays in recruiting, our recap covers everything you need to know. Header photo: Creative Commons

The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt

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The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt

Modern companies are more than just employers — increasingly, they are also gyms, cafeterias and even laundromats. As perks like yoga class, free lunch and complimentary dry cleaning become the norm, companies continue to push the boundaries on ways to attract and retain top talent by providing much more than a paycheck to employees. The latest in the slew of new workplace benefits? Student loan assistance. In April, Chegg partnered with Tuition.io to give full-time employees extra cash for student loan reduction. Then in September, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it would provide up to $1,200 to help employees pay off loans annually. As a benefit, student loan assistance programs are certainly still in their infancy— one survey found that only 3 percent of companies offer such a benefit. But experts say that may soon change as companies seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive hiring environment. "We think student loan benefits are poised to be the next big benefit; similar to what 401(k) matching was when it was first introduced," says Dana Rosenberg, who leads employer and affinity group partnerships at Earnest, a lender that offers student loan refinancing and works with companies to create loan pay-down programs. The Burden of Student Debt Such programs could be extremely attractive to debt-laden Millennials. Around 40 million Americans collectively carry $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and the graduating class of 2015 was the most indebted class in history with an average debt of $35,000 (a superlative they won't hold for long come May 2016.) For employers looking to adjust benefits to correspond to the changing demographics of their employee base, student loan programs hit the mark. "In 2016, our employees will be 80 percent millennials, and we also hire close to 11,000 employees directly out of school each year," says Terri McClements, Washington Metro managing partner of PwC. With student debt often preventing young people from participating in 401(k) plans and reaching traditional life milestones, the benefit could potentially make a large impact on employees' financial and personal well-being. A study from the American Student Association found that 73 percent of people with student loans reported putting off saving for retirement or other investments due to their debt, 75 percent reported delaying a home purchase and 27 percent reported it was difficult to buy daily necessities. "Student loans can be a very stressful thing to deal with, so if we can give our employees peace of mind, that's great," says Caroline Gennaro, corporate communications manager at Chegg. The Allure for Employers Student debt assistance programs aren't just attractive to employees, either. Rosenberg says there are significant benefits for the organizations that offer them as well. "Employers that offer programs to help their employees get out from under their debt load are seeing big benefits: increased retention, more competitive recruiting and, perhaps most importantly, happier employees who have additional cash flow to put towards their life goals," Rosenberg explains. Rosenberg says happier employees are more engaged employees, who tend to be more productive. Studies show that companies with high employee engagement experience lower turnover and have double the rate of organizational success than their less-engaged counterparts. Student loan benefit programs may also lead to a more diverse workforce, attracting employees whose financial backgrounds meant they had to take on more debt for their education. "Diversity and inclusion are also very important to us, so the ability to offer this benefit can help minorities who come out of school with a higher debt burden," says McClements. A Promising Response Companies say the response to their student loan assistance programs have been overwhelmingly positive. Chegg has had more than 80 people sign up since they started their program this summer, and they've already eliminated roughly 86 years of collective loan repayments for their employees. Companies are also finding these programs are a way to differentiate themselves from organizations that may offer more generic benefits. "As a company in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are always looking to attract the best and brightest in the industry, and this benefit is a big draw," says Gennaro. Photo: Shutterstock

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