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Digital transformation is on the minds of executives at all types of for-profit organisations, and NFPs are faced with the same critical decision on how to evolve from manual processes to a completely digital organisation across all functions, including HR.
Technological advancements are often discussed through the lens of workforce planning, change management and training. However, one significant benefit that can often get missed is the data it can deliver to HR professionals. And how this data can help HR to spot trends, identify risks, improve productivity and improve the overall employee experience (EX).
What is EX?
The EX covers every touchpoint an employee will have with an employer, from hire to retire. It’s a mix of technology, purpose and the physical workplace itself, and it encapsulates what people encounter, observe or feel over the course of their journey at an organisation. It’s more than engagement and culture. It brings together all of the workplace, HR and management practices that impact people on the job.
How does data fit in?
Employee data – whether it’s obtained via engagement surveys, pulse surveys, employee net promoter scores or other technology – makes personalisation possible. It enables HR to create bespoke experiences for every employee. This is an important consideration as a “one-size fits all” approach is the antithesis of a desirable EX. Instead of standardisation, HR should look at consistency – ensuring there are guidelines in place so that decisions are fair and transparent.
NFPs already use data in many ways, from predictive modelling to help them identify fundraising targets through to streamlining of operations. Now is the time to use data to provide better services to employees.
As the EX is formed and shaped through every part of the employee journey, from recruitment through to performance management and everything in between, there are countless touchpoints to potentially focus on. Here are some of the ways that data is transforming the EX across professional development, performance management and recruitment.
1. Adaptive learning
On-demand learning and the rise of eLearning means it’s now more cost-effective to personalise learning to suit individual learners. Fuelled by data and analytics, a new era of so-called “adaptive learning” technology allows courses, activities and test questions to be personalised to suit the learner’s preference and pace of learning.
Remarkably, adaptive learning uses user behaviour data to adapt to both the confidence and the understanding of the learner. A standard learning path gives all learners a similar experience of the course, with the same screens and questions to be answered in the assessments. Adaptive learning means all learners might start with the same content but depending on their responses to the questions, the platform will subsequently only feed them relevant content they need to master, instead of all the content.
Greater engagement and less boredom during professional development – surely that’s the dream of employers and employees?
2. Performance management
We’ve all heard of the drawbacks of traditional performance management: it’s too infrequent, it’s too time-consuming, and it’s too marred by bias. Although traditional performance management has long been disparaged by managers, it’s fair to say employees suffered as well. The intention of data-driven performance management is to bring to the fore employee strengths and weaknesses in the most objective way by bypassing the biased opinions that managers, peers or direct reports might have.
Through data analysis we can more easily identify what constitutes “high performance” and “poor performance”, whether that’s defined through KPIs or desired behaviours. This can help take some of the “guesswork” out of assigning arbitrary performance ratings to employees, and therefore make the link between performance, compensation and/or promotions clearer.
To make data-driven performance management work, consider doing more than annual reviews. Studies show that staff today expect more feedback; they want greater responsiveness and transparency (how their efforts feed into a bigger picture), and to feel that their opinions count. Regular employer/employee check-ins are the answer. Not only is more data collected and more timely feedback provided, but goals can be more easily tracked and updated – keeping in mind that the SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, time-bound) and OKR (objectives and key results) goal-setting approaches are the best ways to ensure performance data is obtained and acted upon.
3. Recruitment and onboarding
It’s a blurry line between the candidate experience and the new employee experience – in fact some would say they are one and the same. Fortunately, there are ample opportunities to gather data during recruitment, and later again during onboarding: qualifications, skills, experience level, aspirations, personality and behaviour, likes/dislikes, and so on.
Data from your existing workforce can be extremely useful when recruiting. It’s one thing to know that 30 per cent of employees came from a particular job channel, but even more helpful is knowing the key competencies that are shared amid previously successful employees – for example, resilience, the ability to take initiative or use creativity to resolve complex problems. Knowing these attributes enables you to widen your net when looking for fresh talent; you can look beyond typical “must-haves” such as previous experience or qualifications.
The onboarding experience for successful candidates should not be underestimated as a data source. Data obtained from pulse surveys during and after the onboarding process can help refine the experience for future employees.
Data also underpins any form of machine learning, and with artificial intelligence increasingly being utilised in HR, chatbots will soon be commonplace in the recruitment and onboarding process. These ’bots can be used to personalise the candidate experience by answering simple (and increasingly complex!) questions, facilitating assessments, and scheduling interviews and training.
The ability to track and use data is easier said than done. Not only must the right technology be in place to capture the data, but you may also encounter data silos, sceptical stakeholders, a lack of the right skill sets, and countless other hurdles.
However, improving the EX is not necessarily about large-scale sweeping changes. Pick one area of HR’s mandate (onboarding, for example), obtain employee feedback, adopt a design thinking mindset, change the existing process, trial a fresh approach, obtain feedback, and keep going. As the EX is fluid, continuous improvement is critical.
By embracing a data-driven approach, managers will be more effective at supporting teams, leaders will make more informed decisions, and employees will feel more empowered and engaged. The end result is a better EX for all.
ELMO is Australia and New Zealand’s only integrated cloud HR and payroll solution, offering you: ONE vendor, ONE dashboard, ONE user-experience. Each ELMO module offers advanced reporting capabilities to provide deeper people management insights. To find out how ELMO can help you improve the EX in your organisation, visit http://elmosoftware.com.au/
ELMO was a Gold Partner of the 2018 Not-For-Profit People Conference.
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