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Companies have yet to apply analytics to human resources — but that’s about to change. And lessons learned in applying analytics to customer-focused areas can help avoid mistakes in strategic workforce decisions.
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Competition for digitally savvy talent has never been higher, but companies’ methods for acquiring and keeping the skilled employees they need are outmoded. Whether they want to develop capabilities in employees or tap on-demand talent markets — or some mix of both — human resources directors need to experiment with new talent management models.
Companies aiming to be competitive in the long term do not see safety and productivity as trade-offs. Research drawn from multiple studies conducted with the support of companies, unions, and regulators in the United States and Canada finds no evidence that protecting the workforce harms competitiveness. “Once companies understand that safety is not the enemy of efficiency,” the authors write, “they can begin to build organizational safety capabilities.”
In MIT Sloan Management Review‘s 2015 Digital Business Report, we found that lack of digital maturity has profound implications for talent acquisition and retention. The vast majority of employees (80%) say they prefer to work for digitally mature companies — which means that if your company isn’t there yet, it may soon cost you valuable talent.
To manage a first-rate data science or quant group, leaders need to build an engaging environment, get the team the resources it needs and balance being involved while also staying out of the way. In banking, for example, division managers generally don’t review loan applications. But in analytics, the most successful leaders engage regularly in hands-on research and continue to publish regularly even as they move up the executive ladder. By staying active in line research, analytics managers are able to hone their abilities to judge how difficult projects are and how long they will take.
The process of managing a data science research effort “can seem quite messy,” writes MIT Sloan’s Roger M. Stein. That can be “an unexpected contrast to a field that, from the outside, seems to epitomize the rule of reason and the preeminence of data.” While businesses are hiring more data scientists than ever, many struggle to realize the full organizational and financial benefits from investing in data analytics. This is forcing some managers to think carefully about how units with analytics talent are structured and managed.
Intermountain Healthcare is leading the way in data driven healthcare. In an example from Intermountain’s own operating rooms, the use of data to measure the impact of standardized surgeon attire on infection rates resulted in a significant drop in those rates. The infection control scenario is just one result from decades of work at Intermountain to build a data culture. Over the years, clinicians have learned to work together on a concerted effort to bring data based insights to clinicians and managers.
A key finding from the 2015 digital business research report by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte indicates that strategy, not technology, drives digital transformation. An infographic illustrates some of the primary features of a digitally transformed business, as highlighted in the report. The infographic also illustrates the importance of digital maturity to employees across all age groups and industries and the keys to making digital transformation happen.
There are clear signs that the movement to democratize data is making real progress. Barriers such as infrastructure, culture, tools, and governance that once kept data access limited are quickly eroding. But access to data isn’t enough: Data democratization also requires knowing how to work with data and understand data analysis tools and techniques. Without these capabilities, the data democracy is only an illusion — and most people are still unable to participate fully.
Social media is a tool that allows autistic workers to better express their unique abilities — and tech companies are taking notice. Software giants such as SAP and Microsoft are now actively looking to hire people with autism, and SAP plans to have autistic employees make up at least 1% of its workforce by the year 2020. “Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st century,” says Luisa Delgado, a member of the SAP executive board.
On May 7, 2015, we held a free, live webinar to share the findings and insights from the latest MIT Sloan Management Review Data and Analytics Big Idea Initiative research report, “The Talent Dividend.” The report presents our findings on the role of analytics talent in creating competitive advantage. At the end of the webinar, many participants asked questions. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to answer them all during the webinar itself. So instead, we’ll answer some of the questions this month, and some next month.
At the 2015 Milken Global Conference, attracting and retaining talent is a hot topic. It used to be that the job negotiation formula was simple: salary, benefits and bonus. But that’s not enough anymore. The next generation wants something different from their work life than their predecessors — a more self-actualizing experience — and corporations are scrambling to decipher the keys to keeping employees engaged.
Being fresh for the work day requires prioritizing sleep — which organizations can do a better job encouraging. Academics Christopher M. Barnes and Gretchen Spreitzer argue that sleep is “a key to human sustainability” but note that many leaders model behavior that discourages getting a full night’s rest: executives who brag about only needing a handful of hours of sleep “are not setting a good example, especially when it comes to getting the best performance out of the talent in an organization.”
The data points employees generate about everything from how often they interrupt others to how many people they sit with at lunch tell surprisingly useful stories. Ben Waber, CEO and co-founder of Humanyze, describes how his company is providing the tools and analytics to interpret this social data, helping businesses identify the best collaborative practices of their most effective people.
One key positive of social media and social networking is that it encourages communication — between the organization and its customers as well as among employees in different departments or even different business units. But particularly among multinational companies, there is one key drawback: language. Even when companies designate an “official” language for communication, the language barrier can impede both outward-facing customer interactions and internal collaboration. One solution: employ a multilingual approach tailored to the organization’s needs.
Companies increasingly recognize the value of maintaining good relationships with former employees. Recent research, however, reveals a new insight: It’s also wise to pay attention to what your competitors’ former employees are up to. “Many managers don’t typically think of previous employees in competitive terms (if at all), and have virtually no tools or frameworks to help them wage this talent war,” write the authors.
Steve Zaffron, CEO of the Vanto Group, has worked with diverse organizations — from rocket-scientist NASA to labor-intensive mining — to achieve a culture where sustainability focus runs deep. His experience shows that leaps in human performance come less from tangible investments in automation, equipment or compensation schemes, and more through intangible transformations in the way people in organizations see themselves and others. “It’s not an easy thing to change the way in which people see the world and themselves,” says Zaffron “It takes time to develop.”
When you’re dealing with data on the massive scale that a company like GE uses, a data warehouse just isn’t big enough to house it all. And organizing it ahead of analysis is more of a burden than a help. GE’s CIO Vince Campisi explains to MIT Sloan Management Review why his company is now storing data in a data lake — and how that approach changes the kind of human resources his company is looking for.
Companies will want hundreds of thousands more data scientists than exist, creating a much discussed skills gap. In the past, businesses have figured out how to automate in-demand skills, and some companies say they can automate what data scientists do. What does it mean for companies when they do the equivalent of putting their data scientists into a can?
Recent research by the Center for Effective Organizations shows that most companies aren’t relying on HR departments as part of their sustainability focus — yet most think there’s an opportunity for HR to play a major role in the structuring of a company’s sustainability processes, practices and strategies.
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