HR Tech Europe 2013 – Big Data, Robots and Cycle Paths

 
Andy Spence discusses Future of HR with a Robot at HR Tech Europe 2013
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have always found Amsterdam an inspiring place to be.   As you walk by the canals you experience the artistic and technological ambition of its residents with its rich history as the hub of a global trading empire.
 
The reason Amsterdam is still a thriving global hub in oil, diamonds, flowers and ideas is not because of its location or wealth but to it's engineering excellence and vision.  
 
Nearly one-third of the Netherlands is below sea level and prone to floods. In the 1950s, a series of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, levees and storm surge barriers were constructed to radically reduce the change of flooding. The American Society of Civil Engineers called it one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
 
Just like the engineers who enabled Amsterdam to survive, and flourish, many delegates at the HR Technology Europe Conference have goals to provide the technology infrastructure required for their organisations to thrive.  They provide the right technology and tools in candidate selection, training, collaboration, productivity or basic workforce management.
 
The conference chatter and tweets was about psychopaths, psychos on cycle-paths (a hazard in Holland!), robots, the jargon of behavioural science, big data and predictions about the future of work.
 
Some facts and figures :-
 
• 1439 delegates attended
• 42 nations were represented
• 1 cute robot attended
• 8,245 tweets using hashtag  #HRTechEurope
82 tweets by myself plus 125 mentions – not bad as I was in listening mode this year – thanks to HRMarketer for the analysis
• 57%  of male vendors wore brown shoes (Thanks to @AndyHeadworth but you should always check your data source!).
 
Whether you were there or not, Download Presentations from HR Tech Europe 2013 and View some fantastic photos from Heather Bussing and others.
 
As I have written before, in Why HR Need to be Technology Champions, this is an exciting time to be working in HR, Technology and Org Development.  There are some important strategic choices to be made about the future of technology in our organisations.
 
Here are some themes for buyers and vendors of HR Technology that emerged for me in conferences sessions, conversations and tweets.
 
Its all about the strategy 
In Professor Costas Markides session, “Make your Strategy process democratic” he demonstrated why the first stage of the development of ideas needs to be democratic.
A question for HR Directors, is how widely did you cast your net for ideas into your HR Strategy ?
As Naomi Bloom outlined in her keynote,"Poirot's Order And Method: Making the business case for HR Technology" the starting point for any business case should be “what is the vision, metrics, value targets that matter?”
 
There is no point buying HR Systems that do not support the HR Strategy that in turn does not support your business strategy and goals.  Naomi in a later session also provided some useful historical context of HR systems and data requirements which have changed completely over the years. Put bluntly, the code and data structures that supported our organisations yesterday will not do so in the future.
 
The end of the HR enterprise software era
John Sumser took the historical perspective further in his session, "Re-engineering The Human Resources Function" in his view we are at the end of the HR enterprise software era, in terms of maturity.  The HR Technology industry has done its job well and provided automated solutions for most HR processes and in John’s view we should not expect much innovation at this phase.
 
However, very quickly we will move to a new exciting phase which will include integration of new data sets from outside HR from aggregate health care data, labour market data and actual work measures.  This really has the potential to transform workforce management, and provide competitive advantage to organisations who adopt early. Imagine the possibilities of predicting peaks and troughs in employee performance by merging HR and performance data with health indicators?  Of course there would be a few privacy concerns to iron out in this brave new world.
 
Talent minus Big Data = Unsubstantiated Rubbish
On the topic of data, there was lots of talk of Big Data, Nick Holley from Henley Business School gave a very interesting presentation on “Talent minus Big Data = Unsubstantiated Rubbish”  and also won the prize for best session title.  Nick gave good examples of using data analysis to solve business problems and told delegates that one of the most successful talent tactics is to identify and manage out the narcissists & psychopaths in your organisation.
 
Josh Bersin, in his session “The Datafication of HR” also demonstrated how HR Analytics could smash some organisational myths such as “people from top universities with good grades are high performers”.  Josh illustrated how HR has been evolving big data solutions for years and presented some great pointers in building this capability into your HR Operating Model.  We need to look at the current capabilities we have in HR and recruit people who are comfortable with data. 
 
One of the iHR Award 2013 finalists, MacroMicro, showcased a tool that sits on top of your HR data providing visualisations of your organisation (just don’t let the CEO get their hands on it until you have done a bit of data cleansing).
 
Visualising and playing with data is fun but this all needs to link back to your strategy, we need to start with the Business Problem we are trying to solve.
 
HR Technology Buyers are at a crossroads
‘61% of HR Professionals are changing their HR Technology in the next 18 months’ – with all the workforce and technology changes out there, there is understandably some hesitation in making long-term buying commitments.   In his presentation to industry analysts the day before the conference, Adel Al Saleh, the newish CEO at NGA HR (used to be Northgate Arinso)  gave his view that ”More HR Technology options has created inertia as organisations take time to review their technology and services landscape”.
 
I can understand why, and demonstrates why this is a good time to ask yourself, “Is your HR Operating Model Fit for the Future?”.
 
Congratulations to Appical who won the iHR Awards 2013 with a successful product and an innovative pitch.  They made the case for turning onboarding new employees into something much more fun with cutting-edge technology and social media.
 
The industry behemoth, Oracle, intends to continue to invest heavily in HR Solutions according to Mark Hurd at Oracle.  Mark also brought along his robot, Oscar, who is seen in deep conversation with myself about the future of HR.  After a couple of cocktails, Oscar confided that he planned to deliver a session next year on “The new field of Robotic Resources – RR”.
 
Finally, looking into my Google HR Glass (John Sumser predicted 10% of delegates will be wearing these at the Conference in 2014)  there will be lots of HR Tech contracts signed in 2014.  
 
I am looking forward to the HR Technology Europe Conference in 2014 and seeing how this group of  Workforce Visionaries will be building the technology infrastrucure for our future organisations to thrive.  And through my Google HR Glasses, I will also be watching out for less organisational psychopaths, psychos on the cycle paths and robots doing more HR and the odd keynote speech.

 

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Impact of an Ageing Workforce on HR

In our article on Working Late – The Impact of an Ageing Workforce we highlighted some research initiatives in this area.

A key question for us is:

“What is the future impact of an ageing workforce on HR?”

For HR departments, the ageing workforce is a very current topic with a focus on developing retirement policy in line with regulations, pay and pension reviews and recruitment policy to avoid complex age discrimination cases. This research on the ageing workforce also raises longer-term questions for future HR Operating Models.  In HR, how do we ensure structures, services and tools are reasonably future proof to deliver organisational goals today and in the future?

An ageing workforce will impact current Talent Strategy, for example attracting applications from older workers and supporting recruiters to change their perception of older workers.  A clear theme from the Working Late interviews was “homeostasis of career” – workers happy to do their role with no prospect of promotion.  It is a challenge for organisations to manage the uncertainty around the end of employees working lives.  What will be the impact on the Talent pool?  Line Managers need support in managing performance and improving productivity of older workers to build diverse inter-generational teams.

Our view is we need to rethink our change management approach when dealing with different generations of workers. Even though the change management principles may remain the same, it is clear that different tactics are required with older workers than when dealing with Generation Y.

Some challenging questions for HR professionals are “How do we ensure we have a good understanding of our own workforce, so we can anticipate changes?”, “How robust is your HR data, are you able to conduct analysis on your workforce, including age and skills profiling?”  For some, this puts an uncomfortable spotlight on current HR Systems.

We encourage the periodic review of HR tools and technology to support a productive workforce, but before we “bet the farm” on our new HR Technology Mobile strategy, we need to assess whether this will be successful for all our categories of workers or is a different approach needed.

There is evidence that there is discrimination against both younger and older workers, for example research by the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Attitudes to Age in Britain 2010.

One issue for HR is how to best fight discrimination and negative attitudes to older workers. Any attempt to change attitudes is complex and part of the solution should be to highlight the benefits of employing older workers.  These include retention of key organisational knowledge and skills, and opportunities for coaching and mentoring.

In summary, the ageing workforce is one factor of many influencing future HR Operating Models, however we do need to think about:

1.    Clarity in roles around what we expect HR and Line Managers to do around key organisational activities such as improving performance and productivity.

2.    Choosing the right tools and technology to enable us to manage our workforce, from excellent analytics, to skills tracking and performance management.

3.    Deciding as an organisation, how you will deliver excellent change management.

We would be very interested to hear examples of how your organisation is dealing with some of these challenges? 


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Working Late – The Impact of an Ageing Workforce

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a payslip,
Performance review and benefits plan?

*Loosely based on the work of Sir Paul McCartney

In 2020, nearly a third of the UK workforce will be over 50.

The idea of working into our later years is not a new one, but it has significant knock on effects for the future of work.

The UK is not alone – this pattern also continues across much of Europe.  This means that HR Directors and other leaders must recognise the need to explore the challenge of the ageing workforce.

Sir Paul McCartney celebrated his 64th birthday 8 years ago and shows no signs of slowing down.  For every millionaire, there will be millions of workers who are eligible to retire but will not necessarily be financially able to do so.  The number of older workers will only increase as time goes on as retirement age steadily creeps up.

To this end a research project has been created at Loughborough University called simply
Working Late. It aims to explore the various issues and concerns around older workers and develop strategies to ensure we have productive and healthy environments for the older workforce, and is funded by the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme.  The research project is led by Professor Cheryl Haslam, Director of the Work and Health Research Centre.

Since the number of older workers above the age of 50 is more than double the number of younger workers under the age of 25, it’s clear that this research has come at an opportune time.

Aunty Doris attends “Back to Work Training”
Aunty Doris attends “Back to Work Training”

Working Late takes a pro-active view to establishing connections with workers and various other agencies including The Age and Employment Network. Working Late held a series of expert panels involving a range of experts from HR management, employment law, occupational health, transport and academia.  Glass Bead Consulting was invited to provide a perspective on the impact of demographic changes on the design of future HR organisations.

Working Late’s research ranges from influencing government policies to more practical solutions.  For example, one study highlighted that UK workers spend an average of five hours and 41 minutes at their desk in a work day. Dr Myanna Duncan, from Loughborough University, warned that office workers literally “forget to stand” spending nearly as long at their desks as they were sleeping in bed!  Given the musculo-skeletal problems in the workforce, this is a clear warning that we need to get out of our chairs more and talk face-to-face instead of using email.

The researchers from the Working Late Research Group looked into some of the challenges of later life working, and conducted 108 semi-structured interviews with employers, employees, job seekers and recently retired.  Here is a copy of the presentation which formed the basis of discussion at the expert panels, Working Late – Dynamics of Later-Life Working. The quotes from participants make for interesting reading:

“..It’s kind of awful to think that people are going to end their careers going down a capability route of disciplinary because they are no longer capable of doing the role that’s required of them because they are older. No one wants to performance manage out an older worker as they’re reaching the end of their career […] regardless of legislation everyone wants careers to end with dignity.
(Employer, 42)

“They [older workers] tend to stay with us for a longer period of time. So they’ve got to a stage often in their career where the content of their role is just as important as actually being promoted.”
(Employer, 48)

The themes emerging from the interviews included career development, homeostasis of career, new identities of ageing in relation to retirement, pensions, job-seeking and economic outlook.  All of which will eventually have a profound impact on us all.

What does this mean for HR?

For HR, the ageing workforce is a current issue with much on-going work on developing retirement policy in line with regulations, pay and pension reviews and recruitment policy.  In addition, many HR departments are dealing with complex age discrimination cases, see for example this article in Personnel Today, “Cases in point: guidance on retiring employees”.

Managing an ageing workforce is one factor of many influencing future HR Operating Models. It is important to understand your workforce profile now and against where it will be in 5 years’ time against your organisation needs, and also reviewing HR Strategy through the lens of each customer group; from Generation Y to older workers.

Also, read our follow-up article The Impact of an Ageing Workforce on HR.

What you can do

- Follow Working Late on Twitter @workhealth
- Visit www.workinglate.org for more detailed updates
- Get Aunty Doris to update her profile on LinkedIn…?
- Subscribe by email to the HR Transformer Blog
to ensure you read future articles which will look at the changing workforce on HR

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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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Top 10 HR Transformation Articles in July

Here is our pick of the HR Transformation articles in July, many thanks to all the writers, analysts and bloggers included.
 
The World Cup is over and congratulations to our Spanish friends!  In the duller moments of the World Cup, some of us started to extrapolate wildly from sport to matters of leadership, talent and the nations’ emotions. AON bought Hewitt, a significant move in the rapidly developing HR Outsourcing Monopoly Board  as the industry continues its consolidation. In HR Technology, find out who is the 800lb Gorilla in the corner and when will it start swinging it’s weight around? The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a key relationship for HR, and Charlie Judy outlines useful tips for maintaining and nurturing this relationship. And making a tenuous link from Finance to Math(s), the analyst, Thomas Otter, provides a career tip and calls for more maths skills in HR. And finally, we always like to look into our HR crystal ball, and Graeme Codrington outlines 9 workforce trends for the coming decade.
 
Thanks to everyone who has sent their Top 10 ideas, this is much appreciated -  @AndySpence on Twitter.
 

1.  HRO’s Summer Gets Hotter – Aon to Acquire Hewitt -  from Linda Merritt, Nelson Hall

There has been further movement in the HR Outsourcing and HR Consulting industries with AON buying Hewitt.  The industry analysts have been busy, but we don’t believe this is ”a sad, bad day for HR Outsourcing?”, as Horses for Sources report. Linda Merritt at Nelson Hall reports this deal is about growth, at Glass Bead Consulting we also see this market growing in the coming years.

 
The global HRO market now has five major global HRO providers – IBM, Northgate Arinso, Xerox/ACS, ADP and Accenture.    We also expect to see some of the Indian based providers up there in the next couple of years (HCL, Wipro, TCS, Infosys and Caliber Point)

So all is not lost, this market is developing and this should ultimately be good news for buyers – watch this space as the HRO Monopoly game continues….

2.  The Care and Feeding of Your CFO – from Charlie Judy, at HR Fishbowl

According to Charlie, if there’s one position in the organisation that most HR leaders have trouble connecting with, it’s the Chief Finance Officer (CFO).

Charlie outlines some useful suggestions for maintaining a good relationship with the Finance community. One of our favourites is to create an “HR Dashboard” that you share with the CFO and their team monthly. Include turnover, headcount, FTEs, cost of benefits, payroll, hiring statistics.

 

3.  Reading Oracle's tea leaves from Bill Kutik, HR Executive Online

In HR Technology,

“The 800-lb. gorilla of HR technology sits where it wants to, talks when it wants to and, certainly, only to whom it wants to. “

Find out more about Oracle’s Fusion plans from the man in the know, Bill Kutik. Bill also gathers the opinions of other leading industry analysts.

 

4.  Nine key workforce trends for the next decade – from Graeme Codrington, Tomorrows Today Blog

Working out future workforce trends is important in designing HR Operating Models and HR Strategies. Graeme Codrington outlines some key changes including more older workers, more women in the workplace, unprecedented youth unemployment and generational conflict.

5.  Talent Management systems – Market update – from Josh Bersin

This is a useful overview of developments in the Talent Management Systems from Josh Bersin. This includes ADP’s acquisition of Workscape. Taleo introduces its Talent Intelligence Strategy and Saba introduces Saba Live.

6.   Bring on the math(s) and stats – from Thomas Otter, Gartner

Some Math(s) love in HR from Thomas Otter and Evil HR Lady.
 
“One of my suggestions to HR is to hire a good numbers person, someone with strong undergraduate or preferably graduate statistics.”
 

We couldn’t agree more, HR needs more number crunchers and not just to keep in with the CFO. HR Analytics is essential as our businesses, workforce and economies change.

 

7. When is a strategy not a strategy? – from Jocelyn R. Davis, Edwin H. Boswell and Henry M. Frechetter, Jr. at TLNT.com

Even as the business environment has become increasingly complex, many strategies have become increasingly simplistic. Some have become so abbreviated that they’re little more than catchy phrases.
This is an interesting article, which poses the questions, is it time to review the HR Strategy?
By the way, check out TLNT.com – the business of HR – a useful source of HR related articles.
 

8. Beginners guide to using social media for HR – Guest post from Natasha Stone on Steve Boese's excellent HR Technology Blog

Some useful and relevant advice from Natasha from Silicon Beach Training which covers Recruitment, Communications &  Social media policy. 
 
On the subject of Social Media, see our article “Are you a HR Twitter Virgin?”, and for those who are not, (ahem) see also our “HR Transformers on Twitter”.
 

9. World Cup Leadership Lessons – Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Harvard Business Review

As well as Leadership Lessons, the World Cup also stimulated some thinking about slightly less important matters, such as :-
 
·         Are there any Talent Management Insights from Football? – from the HR Transformer Blog
·         Why Sport is crucial for managing the nations’ emotions  - with Professor Cary Cooper quoting the great Bill Shankly.
 
If you think we were getting carried away making some wild extrapolations from kicking a ball around a pitch, then Laurie Ruettiman, from Punk Rock HR, brings us back down to earth,
 
“I don’t mean to break the hearts of HR and career bloggers out there, but the World Cup has nothing to do with work.”
 

So back to work it is, unless that is, you do actually work in Football.

10.  Government Cuts: A view from the inside – from Karen Wise's HR Blog

Karen writes about HR in the NHS, and gives some interesting perspectives from the inside. The UK Government is planning to make up to 40% cuts to budgets. Karen outlines some of the challenges including demographics of the workforce and attitudes of the senior team.

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Why England Lose – Talent Management Insights from Football

 

For England fans the World Cup is sadly over, our ears have recovered from the din of Vuvuzelas, and once again the England team has fallen from its precipice of unrealistic expectations.
 
The question of the day is “Why do England lose?”
 
To answer this, rather than ask the usual football pundits, we look to our ‘dismal’ friends the economists. Usually found researching and thinking about stagflation, economic stimulus and other boring stuff, when they turn their inquisitive minds to football, we discovered some interesting insights. From their findings we have identified some broader talent management lessons.
 
“Why England Lose: And other curious phenomena explained” is a book by Simon Kuper who writes a weekly sports column in the Financial Times and Stefan Szymanski, a Professor of Economics and MBA Dean at Cass Business School in London. The book draws on geography, economics, statistics and psychology. 

Why England Lose


The answer to the question of why England lose at football, is of course – they don’t. The authors did some number crunching on historical data of football games and using regression analysis determined how much of a given outcome (winning football games) can be related to a other factors (wealth, population size, footballing experience, home advantage).  The authors suggest that England are in fact over-performing.
 
The authors came up with some interesting findings about football, which we think poses some interesting lessons for management and in particular talent management. Sport played at the highest level really hones management techniques as every win and loss is played out in public. Getting the most out of your people is crucial, with small differences in individual performance making or breaking a season (and of course a towns’ collective heart).
 
The authors also looked to case studies of teams that have had great success, they looked for structural reasons rather than individual greatness or prowess.
 
Some lessons come from Olympique Lyon, who have progressed from a relatively obscure provincial club to rule French football, winners of Ligue 1 from 2001/2 until 2007/8.   In England in 1979/1980, this occured with Nottingham Forest  (before then even less known in football terms than Lyon) who won consecutive European Cups with the footballing management duo Bryan Clough and Peter Taylor.  More recently there are lessons from another modern French thinker of football, Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal Manager.

 
The authors highlighted 12 main secrets of the football transfer market, and from these we have pulled out 8 broader talent management lessons for you :-

 

1 – A new manager wastes money. Typically the new manager wants to make their mark by buying and selling players. This is usually disruptive to the team, with the manager unlikely to stay around long enough for this tactic to pay dividends. Would you let your new Executive ‘hire and fire’ and bring in their own team in the first few weeks? Or get them to utilise the existing resources, understand their strengths and weaknesses before filling capability gaps to match your strategy?

2 – Stars of recent World Cups are overvalued. You can pick the player who dazzles for their country in the big tournament, playing for their national pride, but will they deliver on a cold, wet evening in Blackburn in November?  A new recruit is “only as good as their last project” this cliché is simply not true. Don’t be dazzled by the last project – look for a consistent pattern of performance.

3 – Centre-Forwards are overvalued – goalkeepers are undervalued. Do you have to pay more for some roles because you are told you have to pay more for that particular ‘in demand’ new skill? Isn’t it more important to get the best people who delivery the core elements and pay them appropriately? Don’t be blinded by the flashy or those who ‘talk a good game’ – you might find it’s the goalkeeper who really keeps the company moving forward (and stops those painful own goals!)

4 – Use the wisdom of crowds. When Olympique Lyon think about signing a player, a broad group debate the transfer.  In England it’s usually the manager. The more collaborative system has proved to be successful and tends to avoid the typical mistakes in the transfer market. How can you benefit from the wisdom of crowds in recruitment, and implement a process where different views are taken into account?

5 – Gentleman prefer blondes. At least one big British football club noticed that their scouts recommended more blonde players – apparently in a field of 22 similar looking players, the blondes tend to stand out.  The club in question began to take this distortion into account when judging scouting reports. Sport is all about improving performance – there is no point in excluding a section of the population if they give your team advantages.  An example quoted by the authors is a decline in racism against black footballers since the 1970s. So you may have a diversity policy and track demographic data religiously – but are you missing out on the breadth of talent that can help your organisation really shine? Identify and abandon your organisation ‘sight-based prejudices’ and look for systematic failures – rather than individual mistakes.  

6 – Replace your best players even before you sell them. Do you wait for your trusty Finance Director to decide that it’s now time to spend more time in the garden or with the grand children? Have a succession management plan in place, so when the big day comes (and retirement is the nicest option here), you have someone who can fill the boots of the star players.

7 – Buy players with personal problems, and then help them deal with their problems. Brian Clough and Peter Taylor were great football thinkers, they had their vices and this possibly gave them particular empathy with troubled players.  Once they identified a ‘more challenging’ player’s issue, they helped that player manage it.  Their motivation might have been altruistic, but the outcome was they got much better value out of the transfer market and better results. In football the attitude has been “we pay you a lot of money now get on with it” – as if mental illness, addictions, or homesickness should not exist above a certain level of income. The modern attitude of Arsene Wenger also helped Tony Adams through his own recover from alcoholism, see Adam's charity, Sporting Chance. We are not suggesting you make “personal problems” one of your recruitment selection criteria, but this is a real issue in maintaining a healthy workplace. According to the 2001 World Health Organisation, one person in four will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their life. There is an ethical and strong business case for helping employees who are having a hard time. See the CIPD Factsheet – Mental Health at Work.

8 – Help your players relocate. Why spend £24 million on a new member of staff and then let them fend for themselves in a Hotel in a new country. Clough and Taylor found that many transfers failed because of problems off the pitch. Use relocation consultants or find some way of integrating new joiners into their new role in your organisation.  Didier Drogba spent months in a hotel looking for somewhere to live after training with Chelsea, how much faster would he have assumed his current form if his move, six years ago, had been better managed?

 
Before we blow the final whistle, here is our final thought – if we can learn something from football management, what can football management learn from talent management practices in other businesses?

 

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