What will you Stop, Start and Continue in 2013 ?


This is the time of year when the turkey is a recent plump memory, the mince pies are all gone, the Christmas recycling is on an industrial-scale, and the champagne is in the fridge ready to bring in the New Year.  

A question I usually ask myself is What will I Stop, Start and Continue doing the following year?

I find this is a useful exercise to carry out both personally and professionally.

So why not get some of that old Christmas present wrapping paper out, write down those activities and ask yourself the following :

What activities will I Stop doing ?

By this, I don’t mean the post-Christmas detox activities, like drinking horrible tea and running round the block.  In a work context, list the activities and ask yourself – what would happen if you stopped doing this?  

This is your New Year spring clean, clearing out the clutter to free up space to focus on better things.

So once you have done this, and crossed out a chunk of activities, (you will still need to pay people, so payroll stays on the Continue list, nice try!).  Of course, most of what you do is valuable so will stay on the Continue list.

Now the fun bit, you have now created some space and energy, so think about What are the activities that you will Start doing in 2013 ?

Download our Stop, Start, Continue Worksheet below:


Here are some of our HR candidates to consider Stop and Start doing in 2013, we look forward to hearing yours.

HR Candidates to STOP
1.    The Annual Performance review – is this a meaningless paper chain, with low-value conversations with no discernible increase in productivity? If so, then dump it.
2.    Engagement Survey and Action Plan.  Can you really demonstrate that this activity improves productivity, happiness or just improves the survey results every year?  Cause and effect is too difficult to discern, so is time to do something more effective instead?
3.    Doing ‘line-managers work’ with basic employee performance issues. You have rolled out the training, had a ‘hand-holding period’ of 6 months to help less confident managers.  Is now the time to take the hard decision and ask yourselves, if a Line Manager can’t do this now, then do they need to move on?
4.    Creating reports that add no value whatsoever. Unless there is a business reason, stop producing them and see what happens…

HR Candidates to START
1.    Conduct a “meaningful work” review.  Ensure every employee understands how their work fits into the "Why" of your organisation.  Get this right and you will have much more productivity, satisfaction and better results than putting free fresh fruit in the canteen!
2.    Review your HR Strategy to ensure it aligns with the latest Organisation Strategy (which has the habit of changing every quarter)
3.    Conduct a HR Assessment – do you know how much it costs to delivery your HR Services, compared to leading outsourcers or even your competitors?
4.    Check the HR Technology market for Talent Management tools and ditch those awful spreadsheets.
5.    Make more of an effort with Finance and IT…you will always need them, they will always need you…..surprise the CFO and take them out to dinner.
6.    Find out what your Managers really think about HR service – conduct a HR Importance vs Effectiveness Survey to help you hone in on what the priorities should be in 2013.
7.    Ring up your HR Transformation Consultant to help you set-up a successful HR Change Programme in 2013

Whatever you Stop, Start and Continue in 2013, I hope it is a happy and prosperous year for you professionally and personally.


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Top 10 HR Transformation Articles in November & December

We start 2011 with a bumper issue of HR Transformation blog articles from the last two months of 2010. In between meeting year end goals and wrapping presents, our HR bloggers, writers and thinkers are in a reflective mood with some thought provoking articles.
Out with the old and in with the new, we kick off with a couple of articles which aim to smash some of the myths surrounding ‘best practice’ in HR. Our HR Maverick presents the case on why we should dump the dreaded annual Performance Review, with some help from Mr. Deming.
The ‘love/hate’ relationship HR has with Social Media illuminates the dichotomy HR sometimes finds itself in – on the one hand in its traditional role as “enforcer” and on the other side as an “innovator”. We highlight a couple articles that will appeal to both sides, from Malcolm Gladwell to Mashable.
At Glass Bead Consulting we are embracing social media in HR. Jon Ingham and myself co-hosted a Connecting HR Twitter chat one foggy evening in Amsterdam, from the HRO Summit Europe Conference  – read more about our discussion.
Do you know your “HR Cost per employee”?   Is it $1000 or nearer to $3000 per employee or? Read up on some recent trends before the CFO taps you on the shoulder and asks you…
Talking of costs, cost cutting is in at the top of British Government’s agenda, as it looks for ways to allocate more resources to frontline services. We have three insightful articles on the case for HR Shared Services from a UK perspective.

Finally, we hope you enjoy our latest 10 of the best HR Transformation articles and a big thank you to all those that come back to us with ideas and suggestions to share with the HR community. Do keep in touch with any of your future Top 10 articles and suggestions –  @AndySpence on Twitter.


1. In Search Of HR Tech Best Practices, by Naomi Bloom

In this article Naomi Bloom reflects on the quest for best practice in HR Technology and HR Transformation. 
We have all seen the sales pitch of “this system will transform how you deliver HR Management.”   However, in Naomi’s view this won’t happen unless you are willing to redesign your HR processes.  She writes that “If you don’t have proven competency models for your key roles, you won’t get competency-centric HRM, no matter what the software does”.
Naomi outlines three types of practices that are amenable to process improvement through automation, outsourcing & process redesign. Read more about her big P processes, little p processes, and business rules in this excellent article.
Another person to tackle HR “Best Practices”, is Ron Ashkenas, in the Harvard Business Review. He answers the question “Why Best Practices Are Hard to Practice” and according to Ron, there are two main reasons.   
Lack of Adaptation – companies are so different, it is rare that a practice developed in one place can be applied elsewhere without significant customisation.
Lack of Adoption – companies that utilize a borrowed process or tool without full leadership support and commitment, think that just having the tool itself will generate the desired results.
In our view, somewhere along the line someone in the organisation needs to think deeply about how to actually implement organisational strategy. This will nearly always involve the challenging task of asking people to work in a different way. If this change uses tools, theories or methods derived from Systems Thinking, Lean, 6-Sigma or ‘some Blu-Tack, Post-It notes and elastic bands’ then so be it. It doesn’t really matter which tools and methods are used as long as the change works.

2. The Future of Human Resources and Social Media, by Sharlyn Lauby, aka HR Bartender, on Mashable

The adoption of social media at home and work seems to pose some problems for HR. The challenge characterises HRs’ struggle to deliver true value in its role as Business Partner. 
There is a balancing act; on the one hand HR needs to maintain one of its traditional roles of policing policies and keeping managers’ noses clean. On the other hand, HR is required to improve employee performance, engagement and be Technology Champions looking for new tools that can transform the workforce, help them to be more productive and ensure the ‘stars’ stay at your company. 
For sensible tips on Social Media Policy, read The Future of Human Resources and Social Media, from Sharlyn Lauby, aka HR Bartender, via Mashable.
For the HR police…
If you are worried about your employees flippantly using Facebook all day, then imagine what the introduction of the telephone must have done to “Staffing Managers” or whatever our HR predecessors were called !  Humorous and thought provoking cartoon here from Competitive Futures,The Telephone – a disruptive technology.
For the social media revolutionaries…
Those that get a little carried away, with “vive de revolution” approach when it comes to Social Media will find this article interesting “Small Change – Why the revolution will not be tweeted", by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker.

3. HR Costs Rebounding?   from Michael O'Brien in HRE Online  

Do you know your HR Cost per Employee?
A new report, from PricewaterhouseCoopers/Saratoga “2010-2011 US Human Capital Effectiveness Report”, finds that this key HR statistic is returning to pre-recession levels.  The report finds that HR costs-per-employee rose in 2009, to $1,569, up from $1,462 per-employee in 2008 and close to the pre-recession average of $1,610 in 2007.
In our view, HR cost per employee is a very useful metric – much more useful than the traditional “HR:Employee Ratio”. It takes into account the amount of outsourcing, relative cost of the HR function and is easier to make comparisons.



4.  Performance management: looking in the wrong place from Glyn Lumley, aka HR Maverick 

Do you currently run an annual performance management process where line Managers sit down with their team members and discuss their performance, sometimes with a link to remuneration and improving contribution? The Systems Thinkers, such as Glyn Lumley, say that this process is not only a complete waste of time, but is also destructive to morale.
According to Glyn, Improvements to organisational performance does not happen one employee at a time. The problems are in organisational systems and processes – it’s here that we will find the real opportunities for improvement.
An article referring to System Thinking, is not complete without a quote from Dr. W Edwards Deming. “The supposition is prevalent … that there would be no problem in production or in service if only our workers would do their jobs in the way they were taught. Pleasant dreams. The workers are handicapped by the system, and the system belongs to management.”  
If you don’t get improvement in performance, then why bother? Wouldn’t it be better to invest time and cash in initiatives that deliver better results?

5. Service Levels for HR Services Delivery – An Evolution, from Jim Koenig – Equaterra

So you have an SLA in place, however your managers say that “the service levels are all green but we are still frustrated”.   Jim Koenig from Equaterra show the evolution of service levels along the continuum from tactical to measuring both tactical and strategic health.
On too many occasions we see SLAs as a bureaucratic step, rather than as a useful way to manage service relationships.

6. A systems thinking guide to outsourcing for the sceptical public sector leader, from the Systems Thinking Review

If you are a public sector leader (Chief Executive, politician, manager), your budget has been obliterated and you know you have to save money. Some of your peers are jumping headfirst into outsourcing and you are considering doing exactly the same. You hesitate. Who hasn’t heard of the outsourcing horror stories? This is a good article with some useful questions if you are thinking of outsourcing, with free PDF attachment.

7. Is HR too big to innovate?, from J.Keith Dunbar, from DNA of Human Capital blog

Keith Dunbar asks a good question: “is HR too big to innovate?”
The recent 2010 IBM Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) Study identified three key areas requiring attention.
1. Cultivating creative leaders
2. Mobilizing for speed and flexibility
3. Capitalizing on collective intelligence
All three of these focus areas will rely heavily on the ability of HR to innovate itself at a pace that keeps up with the global changes taking place.
A key question for HR is; are we too big to innovate?

8. Mobile Apps are Ringing up HRO, Linda Merritt from HRO Insights Blog

What are the killer apps for mobile devices in HR Services?
From mobile workers submitting an expense claim, commuters with access to their teams holiday schedule, approving a training request while waiting for the bus, Gary Bragar from Nelson Hall, outlines how Mobile Apps will stimulate the HRO Market.
For buyers using SaaS HRO platforms, providers will be developing mobile apps that meet the needs of multiple clients, as well as rolling out applications as they become available by the provider of the underlying HR system (usually Oracle or SAP.)

9. What Next for HR, Connecting HR at HRO Europe, from HR Transformer Blog

I enjoyed speaking on the expert panel at the HRO Summit Europe Conference in Amsterdam with Peter Cappelli, Jon Ingham, Nigel Perks, Jane Owen Jones. Jon and myself carried on the conversations from the Plenary Expert Panel and opened up online with a #HRChat – you can read the transcript here…..watch out for other HR Chats, at Connecting HR site.

For those at the conference or interested, here are the views of Jon Ingham and Gary Bragar as they give their highlights of the conference themes in HR Transformation and HR Outsourcing.


10.  Shared HR services the way forward for local authorities

Here are three different articles on the use of HR Shared Services in UK public sector.
Shared HR services the way forward for local authorities. Two East Midlands authorities in the UK, are to team up the HR services in an effort to cut costs and improve efficiencies. Leicestershire County Council and Nottingham City Council have signed a partnership deal to share HR and other administrative functions in a bid to save more than £2 million per year.
HR ‘must lead from front’ on MoD cuts. HR staff numbers in the Ministry of Defence will be reduced by half over the next two-and-a-half years but, at the same time, the austerity measures facing the public sector present the profession with a “phenomenal opportunity”, according to Jonathan Evans, director, civilian personnel.
Gus O’Donnell [head of the civil service] described the challenge we face as the leadership challenge of a generation. “I think it is not just a generation but a number of generations,” he said. “It is important that HR leads from the front. HR is uniquely placed to make a difference and we have got to make that difference now.”
There are 85,000 civilians in the MoD but, as announced in last month’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, over the next three to four years this will be reduced by 25,000 – nearly 30 per cent.

Shared services ‘not a panacea’ for cost-savings. “Shared services have been heralded as a panacea to solve the [public sector spending] problem,” continued Shoesmith. “It is one option but there are many others. £81 billion is a lot of money to lose out of public services over the next four years, but the cuts can be delivered in a variety of different ways.”

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Top 10 HR Transformation Articles in October

Hopefully everyone survived Halloween, this month we see who is giving a ‘HR trick’ or a ‘HR treat’. The clocks may have gone back here, but this month we have some forward thinking articles on topics such as;  the evolution of HR systems, how L&D and HR should be more intimate, some ‘fear and loathing’ on LinkedIn, “100 is the answer, now what is the question?” with more on HR ratios and benchmarks.
Finally some tips from a ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ on how to manage consultants effectively and we’ve offered our own insiders tips.

Here are 10 of the best HR Transformation articles from October.  Thanks to everyone who has sent their Top 10 ideas, this is much appreciated –  @AndySpence on Twitter.

1.  The end of “here’s one I prepared earlier” – from the HR Maverick Blog, aka Glyn Lumley

“We (HR) no longer create value by just serving employees, but by making sure that services we offer inside the company align to expectations outside the company”  argues Dave Ulrich – Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan.
Our HR Maverick develops this, and says “HR needs to work alongside those who understand what drives customer behaviour” and highlights the importance of ‘feedback loops’ from the customer – a key source of information about external business conditions.  Glyn continues to use ideas from Systems Thinking to “help us develop HR practices able to respond to the world outside.” A great post.

2. The evolution of HR Systems – from Josh Bersin

Josh Bersin highlights his findings about HR Technology from the recent HR Tech conferences. "Integrated Talent Management" is officially the new product category and in this article Josh outlines trends in the emerging Next Generation HRMS Market. The Bottom line according to him is “industry consolidation, continuous innovation, and SaaS together are continuing to change the market for core HR and talent systems.”

3. If I could change one thing about HR – from Nick Shackleton-Jones, BBC's manager of online and informal learning – Guest Post on XpertHR

If I could change one thing about HR.…Nick Shackleton Jones’ wish list includes a more coherent relationship between HR and Learning & Development (L&D).
Nick pinpoints specific areas which would benefit from a more joined-up approach including on-boarding, performance development and mandatory training.   “Successful organisations will depend to a much greater degree on their ability to share what their employees already know.”
We completely agree, L&D interventions need to be completely aligned with the HR Strategy and overall organisation goals.   The strategy needs to answer current questions such as:
·         What does our workforce need to deliver?
·         What skills do we need, where are the gaps?
·         How do we embed this into our organisation?
·         How do we link skills with performance and the recruitment of new talent?

To answer this requires the full suite of tools from both HR & L&D.   In this context, any silos between HR and L&D does not make sense.


4.  The HR Ratio Or "How Many Employees Does It Take to Screw Up an HR Department?" – Mike Haberman, HR Observations

This does sound like the beginning of a dodgy joke involving a ‘light-bulb’, but Mike makes a serious point. The answer of course is “it depends”. Mike outlines the factors that influence the answer.
In our view, when assessing a HR function against its organisational goals, it is crucial to ask the right questions.   Simply asking “what is our HR Ratio?” and how does it compare to others will not help achieve organisational goals.
Too often organisations start with the answer
 “100 employees to 1 HR FTE”
rather than obsess about asking the right questions.


5. Is Benchmarking Destructive? – in Consulting Magazine, reporting on a Booz & Company article

In the same vein as the previous post, Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi from Booz and Company think that benchmarking encourages organisations to focus on what their competitors are doing, rather than their own capabilities.

We couldn’t agree more with this view as too often we find organisations worrying about external benchmarks when it is not clear why their HR Ratio is much bigger in a particular region or business.  

For more on UK Government HR Benchmarks, see our post –  "HR Benchmarks – A Government Health Warning"

6. What we teach, How we learn – A Guide for Workplace Learning and Engagement – From Benjamin McCall and others at RestartHR

This free PDF download from Benjamin McCall and various HR superstars is all about ‘learning’ and comes highly recommended. Some great questions and learning points for those involved in training and development as their day job, or those that rely on L&D outcomes.

7. Fear and Loathing on LinkedIn – from Steve Boese on Fistful of Talent

Steve Boese highlights a new tool on LinkedIn, called the “LinkedIn Career Explorer” to help users visualise potential career paths for college students.
LinkedIn has already been a revelation in terms of networking, but eventually its real power might be enabling a more efficient matching process between talent demand and supply. If most of your current and future talent pool is publically available in one place, then the only people with “Fear and loathing” will be the traditional recruiters.
We also like this article from Sharyln Lauby aka the HR Bartender, on Mashable.


8. What future for the NHS staff record – from Vince Lammas at Attractor Consulting

Vince Lammas poses a good question about the future of the UK NHS HR System called Employee Staff Record (ESR).   This is possibly the largest HR and Payroll system in the Word serving 1.3 million employees (however, if any of our HR Transformer Blog readers happens to work for the Chinese Army, Wal Mart or Indian Railways, let us know if you have a system to compare to the NHS)
The ESR system was implemented over the best part of a decade and is now in place in all NHS Trusts in England and Wales.  The original strategy had ambitious plans to use a common platform to deliver shared services, however this was not fully realised and we now have a situation where we have about 600 Trusts all delivering HR processes in 600 slightly different ways, each with their own Payroll, L&D & Workforce Planning managers and teams.
On top of a government spending freeze (real time cut) there will be pressure to transform the NHS workforce to do more with less, and HR needs to be well positioned to delivery this. A well planned programme to provide more effective HR services using HR Service hubs could be helpful.  So there is a burning platform for change, but do we have the political will to allocate more resources to front-line service and provide better value for the taxpayer?

9. Central Government is rubbish at managing Management Consultants – Flip Chart Fairy Tales

According to Rick, public sector organisations, especially central government bodies, are often hopeless at defining what they want consultants to do. Rick has used his experience working as a consultant to share some lessons learnt with working with public sector buyers. 
We have worked on both sides of the fence, and here are three tips for managing consultants :-
1.       Only engage when you know exactly what you want and how it fits with your overall strategy
2.       Always look for opportunities to train and develop your staff with new skills
3.       Define your outcomes from the start, and consider packaging up deliverables into phases so you can agree scope ‘step-by-step’

10.  Recapping the Not-so-Dog-Days of HRO’s 2010 Summer – from HRO Insights

Lynda Merritt from analysts Nelson Hall offers a summary of the key deals in the HR Outsourcing market in 2010 so far this year. Three big acquisitions have recently closed – ACS and ExcellerateHRO, ADP and Workscape, and Aon and Hewitt.

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HR Transformation Delivers Solid Savings Of 25% According To Survey

According to the 2009 Global HR Transformation Report (conducted by HROA in association with ADP), HR Transformation generates cost savings of 25% over a period of around 3 years. This is the 6th annual survey and you can download the fascinating 2009 report here.
Two main factors are driving HR Transformation programmes in various sectors:

 – Every department is required to justify its existence with an eye to costs. Reducing those ongoing costs and managing them is vital for both the short and the long term.

 – The right people are needed to transform organisations, enabling managers to perform more effectively. Allocating more resources to strategic HR is the key to making this happen.

At its best, HR Transformation re-aligns HR resources so that managers can manage their business and people more effectively.
Our observations on the 2009 survey are as follows:

– 76% of recipients in the survey achieved or exceeded their savings targets. 35% delivered cost savings of 6-15%. At Glass Bead Consulting we have seen a wide range of outcomes, but savings of 20-30% are certainly achievable with a well managed programme.

– Cost reduction is the main reason why organisations transform HR. Other main reasons include freeing up internal HR staff to focus on strategic issues.

– Having the right expectations in the planning stage develops credibility. Installing new HR systems and simplifying processes requires much effort, but the behaviours of line managers also require time to change. However the survey has found that companies are getting progressively better at estimating the amount of time required to make the necessary changes. They are also becoming better at anticipating the outcomes that will result from these changes.

– HR Outsourcing has increased from 7% in 2008 to 12% in 2009. However with that said, it is still the least popular strategy used at present. Single process outsourcing is by far the most popular process. 65% of organisations still use Request for Information (RFI) when selecting an HRO partner.  A good HR Outsourcing Advisor should know the HRO vendors, their offerings and of course their strengths and weaknesses.  Although the HR vendor market is complex and rapidly changing, (see our article HR Outsourcing – The Challenge of Picking Winners) we can usually short-list straight away, saving the time and expense of issuing an RFI.

– Skills remain the biggest hurdle to achieving a successful HR Transformation Programme. This is consistent with last year’s survey results. You can read more on our HR Transformer Blog article HR Survey Highlights Skills Gaps in HR.

The HR Director of a global bank recently told us that finding HR professionals with the right skills was very difficult. The skills in demand included commercial prowess, a project management mindset and the ability to think about delivering HR services on a consultancy basis.
A different skill set is required yet again in order to deliver an HR Transformation programme. Getting the right mix between internal team members and external consultants can be a real challenge.
The skills required for transformation include:

– HR technical architects

– Project/Programme management

– Process analysis, design and implementation

– Managing the business case for change

The message is clear – you should always plan skills transfer into your budget and programme. This will ensure new skills are utilised in after the dust has settled on the new HR Service Centre or HRO contract.  We feel many people in HR departments would agree with this.
We would be interested to know your thoughts and comments. Does the 2009 Global HR Transformation Report reflect your own experiences of HR Transformation, or have you had different experiences?


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Top 10 HR Transformation Articles in June

Here are 10 of the best HR Transformation articles from June, we hope you enjoy.
We have “Naomi in a box” and DIY HR Outsourcing – if these ideas do take off we are in trouble!
We peer into the 'crystal ball' and the search for the Holy Grail (but no mention of Monty Python)  from Dr John Sullivan, Naomi Bloom, J. Keith Dunbar and Jon Ingham with a HR 2.0 case study.
The last 3 articles deal with HR in the UK Public Sector – is there an appetite to establish a huge HR back office, and if not, is HR equipped to deliver the proposed 25% cost savings?  We also have the views of the Head of HR for the police in London –  a warning to politicians – never mess with the cops – particularly with their HR ratios.
We hope you enjoy the articles, and get in touch with any Top 10 articles ideas @AndySpence on Twitter.


1.  “The Future of HR” from a shareholders’ perspective –  from Dr John Sullivan

What would HR look like if it were redesigned by shareholders? This is a really interesting perspective on the role of HR from Dr John Sullivan.

2.  The Future Of HRM Software: Embedded Intelligence – from Naomi Bloom, at the In Full Bloom blog

“Meet Naomi, your friendly and very knowledgeable HRM/HRMDS consultant “in a box”. 
The very thought of capturing Naomi Bloom’s knowledge in this way is enough to give MIT sleepless nights for years. 

This provides some great insights into the future of HRM software from one of the most knowledgeable experts in the industry.

3. DIY for HRO – from Mark Stelzner, at Infexion Advisor

For organisations thinking of HR Outsourcing, Mark Stelzner, from Infexion Advisors gives some counter-intuitive advice (from a consultant). "Don’t use a HRO advisor, just do-it-yourself."
We agree with Mark in some situations, but think some conditions need to apply if you are going to try DIY HRO, including :-
– You have good up to date knowledge of all the relevant vendors
– Your organisation is good at managing outsourcing contracts
– You have a clear HR Transformation roadmap with buy-in from business stakeholders
– Your procurement team is comfortable running a vendor evaluation for a contract which usually involves technology, business, change
– You can tap into experience of the HRO lifecycle from conception, contract, transition to ongoing service delivery
The very useful DIY HRO deck illustrates the HRO journey, some great questions and is a good starter pack for those thinking of HRO, but don’t underestimate the complexity.  Maybe we need a “HRO Advisor” in a box?


4.  10 Lessons Learned in the Quest to Become Strategic in HR– from Cathy Missildine Martin at the Profitability Through Human Capital Blog

Here are some of Cathy’s lessons learned over the last several years working with HR Departments that chose to go through a dramatic change by moving to a strategic "Business Partner" approach to HR. This includes, “You can't be strategic if HR is not intimately involved with the organizational strategy.”

Great learnings expressed clearly and without jargon.

5. The Holy Grail…Human Capital Development Aligned to Strategy – from J. Keith Dunbar at the DNA of Human Capital

It’s always great to hear how the US Defence Intelligence Agency deals with people management challenges, and Keith is our man.  We particularly enjoyed this article as it highlighted the results of a very useful tool, assessing the differences between the perceptions of importance vs. effectiveness in people management.
They found a significant gap in Importance vs. Effectiveness (48%) in  "knowledge, skills and capability requirements to execute business strategy."  This indicates that this category is very important to the organisation, but not as effective as it needs to be. This can be useful information in helping to work out where to focus your efforts.
If you are interested in Importance vs Effectiveness tools, check our HR Effectiveness Survey as well as the excellent IBM paper on Workforce Analytics which is downloadable from Keith’s article.


6.  Lynda Tyler Cagni, ex Ermenegildo Zegno on HR 2.0 – from Jon Ingham's Strategic HCM Blog

What is HR 2.0 exactly?  Nobody explains the vision and the practicalities as passionately as Jon Ingham. Here is a case study, which always helps, from the retail group, Ermengegildo Zegno. “It’s about building collaborative enterprises and HR can play a big role in enabling this, and it’s a train that’s already left the station – HR needs to get on board quick.”   

This is a great case study providing useful insights.


7. HR Technology Trends for 2010  – from John Sumser on HR Examiner

This is a useful presentation on HR Technology Trends from John Sumser.  But what on earth is the “Sumser Curve”?


8. Government sets up efficiency hit squad – and warns HR to prepare for a storm – from Rick at Flip Chart Fairy Tales

Governments are planning to transform public services to reduce their cost of delivery to cope with the structural deficits. 
Sir Peter Gershon is now advising the UK Government and says “HR functions will need to be on top form to prepare departments for the ‘shock wave’ of the government’s cost-reduction scheme”.
 With the public-sector pay bill standing at £174 billion in 2008, and procurement costs totalling £220 billion, HR skills will be very much at the forefront of reducing “unsustainable” spending.     This task will be all the tougher as HR functions themselves needing to be simplified, just when their skills are most needed, Gershon said.
Rick, from Flip Chart Fairy Tales sees problems ahead and outlines how HR will have to put their own house in order by shifting transactional activities into shared service functions and reducing the ratios of HR staff to employees.



9. Could the Whitehall reshuffle lead to one massive government back office?  – from Inside Outsourcing at Computer Weekly

Can the government realise the potential of government back office sharing?  If all the government business processing capabilities were brought together you would have a resource bigger and more efficient than any supplier. 
Any move of this nature would probably require a large amount of consulting and supplier support. 
Is there any ambition to creating a world class HR Services in the UK?   Does the Government have the appetite to deliver standardised policies and processes, using common platforms and asking managers to manage their teams?

I am not sure there is much appetite for huge Government investment programmes – but some intriguing questions all the same…

10.  Met chief: HR could be “priced out as an expensive overhead”
– interview with Martin Tiplady, HR Review

During the UK election, David Cameron , now the UK Prime Minister, in a live TV debate mentioned that there were too many police officers working as “form fillers” in HR in London’s police force, the Met.  Read the subsequent debate in Xpert HR  "David Cameron Hits out at Metropolitan "HR Waste" and also see our article about HR ratios "HR Benchmarks : A government health warning"
This article from Martin Tiplady provides some clarification on HR ratios at the Met and his openness is respected.  His message to others in the UK Public Sector is that “HR could be priced out as an expensive overhead".   So HR be warned – you have had your collar felt by the long arm of the Met!

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Top 10 HR Transformation Articles in April

April has been a bumper month for a good selection of HR Transformation related articles, from using 6 Sigma in recruitment, optimising your HR Shared Services, to how the iPad can help HR.
Here is a a leading question, 'Are Performance Management appraisals the Great Evil?'  Election fever is gripping the UK and the main political parties are locking horns in a final show down.  The last three articles here deal with UK Government policies including a comparison of the main parties manifestos on skills and training.

1.  6 Sigma Recruiting – from Jason Buss, The Talent Buzz

6-Sigma can work in HR when used in the right context, with the right skills. It works really well with higher volume for repeatable processes like recruitment. In the right hands, the results are dramatic and can pay for your Black Belt many times over.  This article also includes a useful slide deck.

2.  HR Shared Services Optimisation: Attaining the full potential of HR Shared Services – from Outsourcing World

This is a good post about how to get the most out of HR Shared Services. You have gone through the blood, sweat and tears of getting the model working, so what do you do next? Here are 10 excellent ideas and suggested initiatives. Find out more about “leaner, not meaner HR” and “HR orphans”.

3.  5 ways to torpedo your next HR sale – from Mark Stelzner, Inflexion Advisors
We often facilitate vendor evaluations for HR Services and we've seen lots of pitches over the years ranging from the incredible to the incredulous, to the downright dreadful. This is a candid post which outlines the ways HR vendors can “fail spectacularly”.   Do you recognise any of these “torpedos” ? We do too.

4.  Workday and the unspoken benefits of SaaS – from Phil Wainewright, ZDNet
This is a good article about Software as a Service (SaaS).

“Our estimate is Workday is at least 25%, perhaps 50% cheaper than on-premise competitors Oracle or SAP, mainly due to the simpler implementation and process configuration of the Workday solution.” according to Aviva.

Cost is one of many issues when considering future HR Tech options, but the above statement is a powerful claim.  What does your IT Director think about SaaS ?

5.  How the iPad Can Change HR – from Jason Corsello, KI OnDemand
Is an iPad a big iPod or a laptop with a big screen? I am not sure because I am still waiting for my evaluation copy. (subtle hint to Apple)

Large proportions of the workforce in retail & manufacturing industries have limited access to PCs.  In the design of HR Operating models a big challenge is how to get these employees to access HR service channels, including self-service HR applications and tools to manage vacancies, book courses and update personal info. 

We need to use all the ‘pull factors’ we can to get employees to use HR services and providing a few iPads could be worth considering for certain groups of.  Jason outlines examples from streamlining mundane and repetitive forms, interactive training, performance management and perhaps the area with most potential ‘mobilising HR’.

6.  Performance Evaluations: "The Great Evil"? – from Mike Haberman, HR Observations Blog
Is Performance Management The Great Evil? Systems Thinkers think so and it would seem that many employees think so too. Does the effort pay off and should HR focus their efforts on other initiatives to improve employee performance?

"This corporate sham is one of the most insidious, most damaging, and yet most ubiquitous of corporate activities. Everybody does it, and almost everyone who's evaluated hates it. It's a pretentious, bogus practice that produces absolutely nothing that any thinking executive should call a corporate plus." Quoted in the article from authors Samual A. Culbert and Lawerence Rout.

Strong words indeed, but a thought provoking article and interesting discussion which represents different views on the subject.

7.  If eLearning is still not seen as effective – how will social learning take off?- from Martin Couzins, XpertHR
eLearning has proven to be a cost-effective way to deliver training in  certain areas and the potential for Social Learning is great given the tools, connectivity and knowledge we now have at our fingertips.

However a recent survey by CIPD, on UK Training methods, found that eLearning was floundering at the bottom of the pile on 12% (it was 7% in 2009).  Martin asks a really good question, if eLearning is still not seen as effective – how will social learning take off?
Another question for us is :- if eLearning is a cost-effective way to deliver training, why isn't it used more by organisations?

8.  Election 2010 Briefing – skills and training – from CIPD
The UK election is on May 6th, but when choosing which party to vote for, how important are their policies on Skills and Training?

To grow the economy, enabling the workforce with the right skills and training is absolutely key.   This is a useful three page summary of the main parties manifestos on skills and training. It includes apprenticeships, youth unemployment and internships.

9.  Don’t bank on efficiency savings – from Flip Chart Fairy Tales
The Conservatives say they can get £12 billion more efficiency savings out of the UK public sector than the government has claimed.    “Back-office efficiencies” are proposed by all politicians to reduce the deficit to a more manageable level.  Rick points out the problem with efficiency savings is that they are "probably unachievable".  Developing a realistic business case is difficult work but Rick suggsts the politicians need a reality check.  For more on HR efficiencies in the public sector, see our article about Government Benchmarks – a Government Health Warning.

10.  HR Transformation in Local Government – from Nicola Grimshaw, director at Digby Morgan writing in Changeboard
This is a good article about HR Transformation trends in UK Local Government.  It picks up on trends in collaborative working, headcount freezes and outsourcing.  Nicola reckons that 75% of all local authorities are in the process of adopting an Ulrich style HR Operating Model.

We hope you enjoyed our latest and greatest HR Transformation Articles for April.

Many thanks for the feedback for our Top 10 HR Transformation Articles from March, as always we would welcome any suggested articles, or follow us on Twitter @AndySpence.

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HR Benchmarks – A Government Health Warning

HR 50% efficient?

In the UK Civil Service, there is 1 Human Resource professional for every 50 employees. In other sectors with some degree of standardisation, larger organisations should be achieving a ratio way beyond 1 HR professional to 100 employees. The report indicates that HR in the UK Public Sector is about half as efficient as it should be.

The UK Government has presented its strategy for delivering efficiency savings in the Public Sector, Putting the Frontline First – Smarter Government and states that "This plan delivers better public services for lower cost". The report refers to a range of tactics including strengthening the role of citizens and civic society, accelerating the move to digitalised public services, allowing local authorities to create further commercial opportunities and streamline central government for sharper delivery. The report also highlights the objective of improving back office processes to the standard of the best.

To make the proposed Public Sector changes, and make them stick, requires effective people management and HR has a key role to play in this. As "Next Generation HR" – the Civil Service wide employee framework recognises, it is key that performance improvement, engagement and wellbeing, competencies and skills and smarter workforce deployment are delivered more effectively. The key to "Putting the Frontline First" is "Putting employees first" – they ultimately will deliver these changes.

In the report Benchmarking the Back Office IT, Finance and HR metrics have been published for Government departments. The tactic of "Naming and Shaming" with benchmarks can be a useful and powerful technique when used appropriately. However benchmarking alone should never be used to size any function, it is a crude yard-stick. Sizing HR functions should be linked to the wider organisational goals. The question should not be "how do we achieve 1:77 or 1:150?", rather "what are the goals of the organisation and what HR capability and resources do we need to deliver them?"

Armed with this benchmark data, Click here for spreadsheet with HR Benchmark Data (with Glass Bead Consulting Ranking), the HR Transformation Analyst team at Glass Bead Consulting were let loose for some initial number crunching. The data, at this stage, has too many questions and gaps to be analysed in a meaningful way, but here are some comments and observations.

Comments on HR Benchmarking Data

  1. 1. The data shows '% Cost of HR Function' (against total running cost) and 'Ratio of Employees (FTE) to HR Staff', plus Average Working Days Lost to Sickness (AWDL).
  2. 2. Using Benchmarks is a minefield with many reasons for anomalies. It is often a more productive use of time to work out why there are differences within an organisation. The metrics chosen have their flaws, for example the Ratio of Employee (FTE) to HR Staff might show variations due to degree of outsourcing and definitions. '% of Cost of HR function' will vary considerably depending on the type of expenditure i.e. running Embassies around World or calculating benefits payments.
  3. 3. In terms of HR metrics, we prefer the 'Total Cost to Serve per employee' metric as it reflects 3rd party spending and relative salary costs. E.g. the HR : Employee ratio might be very high because 50% of HR is outsourced, however the 'Total Cost to Serve per employee' allows a better comparison.
  4. 4. It would be useful if the report published "number of employees" and "number of HR Staff" – then the departments could be grouped into similar size. An organisation with 500 employees clearly has less options for economies of scale and skill, not to mention investments, than one with more than 20,000.
  5. 5. Why are there gaps in the data? These are the most basic data elements you would look to in a HR Assessment. How many employees do you have and how many HR staff? Why is this so difficult?
  6. 6. The document mentions, 1:77 (see graph below), as an private sector industry median performance. However, in a recent discussion in the CIPD LinkedIn community, there was general agreement that 1:100 is a sensible starting point. Larger Private Sector top performers are way beyond 1:100, with the use of shared service centres, Employee & Manager Self Service tools, effective use of 3rd parties, and re-allocation of people management responsibilities.

    HR Staff Ration for UK Government Organisations

  7. 7. Why include Sickness (AWDL) as a metric here? Although there are correlations between effective HR and this is an important metric, it is one of many goals. Managing sickness is not solely HR's job – it is also the mangers responsibility. However important Sickness is, it is a distraction in this context.
  8. 8. Where is the NHS data? The NHS should be much further ahead than other Government departments following the large investment in ESR (HR Oracle based system) which has now been implemented. Having a common HR System is a key building block for more efficient Shared Services. It is important that NHS data is included to get a baseline from which regional shared services can now start to be planned.
  9. 9. Our HR analysts had some issues with the data, but highlight some of the 'HR : Employee ratios' that stood out were as follows :-
  10. 21 – Northern Ireland Office 25 – Ministry of Defence 28 – Department for Transport 33 – HM Treasury 37 – Cabinet Office 38 – Department of Business, Innovation and Skills


Even with a target of 1:77, the figures above show there is a long way to go.
(For readers from the Private Sector, how does your organisation compare?)

As Rick, from Flip Chart Fairy Tales asks, in Government support functions: over-spending and over-staffed, what does this tell us about the efficiency of the Civil Service as a whole? If an organisation is delivering at 1:20 or even 1:40, it is not delivering HR effectively. I would go as far as saying 1:100 has been the litmus test for organisations if we are going to use crude benchmarks. The scope of the report doesn't tackle how well HR does in terms of helping organisations achieve their objectives (which is why HR exists). Better links need to be made between progress on 'Next Generation HR' and ongoing Benchmarking reporting.

Any plans to transform UK Public Sector needs strong leadership, robust performance management, employee engagement and the right competencies and skills deployed at the right time. In other words a well functioning, modern HR department. Reporting the key HR Metrics is a fine idea and good starting point. However it is important that the right metrics are assessed and any decision-making framework includes a much broader set of a data so that meaningful targets are set and delivered.


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