Closing the Talent Gap

Organizations are using data and analytics to get ahead of succession and hiring planning.

By Audrey Roth

Long gone are the days when succession and hiring planning were considered cutting-edge HR. Today, both initiatives are essential components to the overall talent management strategy. When executed efficiently, talent gaps will be minimized, and all employees from the entry-level to the C-suite will understand their path to success within the company. Succession planning frequently focuses on senior-level roles, which is certainly a necessity, but lack of a broader organizational strategy can lead to lower levels of engagement and higher levels of attrition.

According to SHRM’s 2017 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement report, although job satisfaction and employee engagement levels are relatively high, 40 percent of employees expressed the possibility of seeking new external employment within the next year. One in five employees report career advancement opportunities as a reason for leaving, which underlines the need for planning. Employing the right data and metrics can ensure organizations are making use of an overall informed talent management strategy.

Selecting Metrics

“Most often HR is focused on satisfying their internal customers with the age-old data set of time to hire, quality of hire, and cost per hire,” explains Managing Partner of Browne & Brand, Karen Browne. Although traditional metrics are still valuable, with the advent of new data and analytics technology, additional metrics should be measured to ensure full process efficiency.

When implementing succession and hiring plans, the process should be documented and measured in all steps, from job postings to exit interviews. “To get a comprehensive look at program performance, make sure to measure beyond an accepted employment offer,” says Vice President of Workforce Solutions for AgileOne, Tracey M. Richardson. “Lots of important data is waiting to be discovered in the on/off-boarding process, including exit interview data and feedback from employee referral sites [like Glassdoor].”

  • Application efficiencies. This is an early step in the hiring process that can make or break an organization’s talent pipeline. “The application process is another area where knowing the data can help refine the recruiting funnel,” says Richardson. “This includes applications received, applications started but not submitted, application completion time, and applicants per open requisition. Knowing this information is the first step to figuring out if your funnel has any gaps, where they might be, and how you might fix them.”
  • Manager performance. Have a program in place to help managers take responsibility for talent in the pipeline, and keep track of how managers are developing that talent. Employees with potential should be identified and trained, which can reduce turnover and better prepare organizations for future talent gaps.
  • Candidate job satisfaction. This metric helps track whether or not the recruiting strategies created a realistic depiction of the job requirements, and whether the organization is successfully keeping employees engaged. Tracking employee engagement and job satisfaction is vital not only to attempt to keep them engaged and interested in growth, but to be prepared for unexpected departures. “RPO providers must assert courage in terms of calling out workflows that do not enhance a candidate’s experience,” explains Browne. If organizations can point out what is creating a less desirable candidate experience, then they can address the issue.
  • Loss impact. If an employee leaves the company or transitions due to promotion, an organization should have a process in place to fill that talent gap. Measure the effects of the loss and develop a strategy for minimum impact.
  • Internal candidates versus external candidates. Pay attention to how many people are in the talent pipeline, where they are coming from, and how successful they are at the job. Is it more cost effective to hire from within? Are internal candidates creating greater impact on the organization? Either way, alter the strategy with this knowledge in hand.

Solving Problems with Data

When used effectively, data can be applied to solve a full range of hiring and succession challenges. “Comprehensive hiring data enables the RPO [provider] to strengthen the value added to the organization by guiding forecast accuracy and objective prioritization for optimizing performance of workforce management,” explains Senior Human Resources Operations Manager of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Karen Feeney.

The best data in the world is useless unless presented in relevant and actionable methods, explains Richardson. A dashboard should provide TA teams with a customized view of positions based on data and report trends tracked over time.

Richardson shares that organizations should strive to automate as much of the data collection process as possible to ensure the integrity of the data. Vital data points can be lost when using manual processes for data collection, which can detrimentally affect decision-making. Data extracted from applicant tracking systems (ATSs) is a good place to start. “This data has been integral in the ability to create actionable plans in order to avoid risk, reduce time-to-fill, increase the effectiveness of direct sourcing efforts, and improve hiring manager satisfaction,” says Richardson.

Data should also be used for forecasting future vacancies. “By framing the picture of what organizational performance versus demand really looks like across the organization/market, based on a data-driven, behavioral-based forecast, the RPO [provider] helps operational leaders see immediate solutions as well as envision a more strategic long-term plan for attracting, retaining, and productively leveraging labor resources,” explains Feeney.

Effectively planning for talent gaps allows organizations to be dynamic and ready for change, paving the way for easy transitions. “Carefully tracking employment levels by position, geography, and tenure means that turnover can be anticipated, giving leadership the chance to mitigate the impact,” says Richardson. “If turnover is inevitable, having data around what recruiting strategies work best means you are able to get ahead of turnover, maintain talent pipelines, and restore employment levels as quickly as possible.”

Communication is also a vital component to effectively leveraging data. “Collaboration of cross-functional leaders is critical in the development, delivery, and review of RPO data, planning and performance for progressive and celebrated results,” says Feeney.

Predictive analytics and machine learning, which can provide key information around candidate and employee behavior, is continuing to play a larger role in the succession and hiring landscape. “Ranking and scoring candidates against predetermined, weighted job requirements (to determine the quality of the candidate) is just the beginning. Today, HR leaders are able to use job-response optimization to create effective job postings and leverage macroeconomic data to improve candidate quality, talent pipeline planning, and resource allocation,” says Richardson.

“Good data is the first step in creating processes that work,” says Richardson. With the right data, metrics, and planning in tow, organizations can ensure an effective succession and hiring strategy with the best results.

Posted December 19, 2017 in Talent Acquisition

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