What are the problems that typically arise in growing economies with respect to the human capital?
Burke: In typical growth economies, the key focus for the business is to meet targets with respect to headcount. In recent times, China and India are examples of economies where headcount numbers in organisations increased exponentially in line with the business growth. However, the race to meet headcount targets, while inevitable, does come with its own set of problems.
Organisations often realise that they simply cannot continue to grow their headcount without creating the base for a talent pipeline. A central question that a growing organisation often faces is whether the existing talent base is ready to become managers. Also, with the evolution of business needs, agility is extremely important to build an effective workforce. The organisation’s workforce needs to be change-ready to be able to take on new ways of working. In a scenario where these considerations are not looked at very deeply in the race to meet headcount numbers, many organisations realise that they do not have enough number of people ready to take on new job roles or are ready to lead teams and entities.
With the economies in China and India showing signs of slowing down, the key driver of growth will be to utilise the wealth of human resources to move up the next level of the value chain. Of course, this will be useless if the people who are identified and groomed for future success are no longer with the organisation and therefore, it is also important that an individual’s aspirations are aligned with the organisation’s aspirations.
How can companies evaluate the effectiveness of HR Programs?
Pandit: Companies evaluate effectiveness of their HR programs with lag measures like in recruitment we use “time to hire”, “cost per hire”, “quality of hire/time to performance”, etc. These metrics are descriptive, they tell us where we are and to some extent where we are going; asking the right questions and using analytics, one can really measure the effectiveness of HR to tell us what we will achieve when you get there.
Analytics is moving from focus on lag measures to lead measures that will help us predict the future. It can support in HR decision making. Continuing with the example of recruitment, when a talent acquisition head says that her recruitment program is effective, can she really answers questions like “How does the calibre of my applicants compare with my competitors?”, “At what stage I am losing people in the recruitment process?”, “How strong is the managerial talent I am recruiting compared to industry sector benchmarks?”
Access to these answers is what talent analytics can provide. After understanding the reality, organisations can then decide what action to take on data. Whatever the focus, data gives us the insights to reflect and to take business decisions. Progressive organisations use two lenses to benchmark themselves, firstly, they identify competencies of talent they are looking for and, secondly, they benchmark their talent pools (candidates and employees) with the competition.
How can organisations make human capital more effective during growth periods?
Burke: There is a great need for organisations to move out of the mindset of growth reliant on productivity and process. Organisations have realised that even when people put in their best efforts in a perfectly adequate process environment, productivity gaps still remain. Analysis of these productivity gaps reveal that it is necessary for an organisation to place the right people with the right set of aspirations into a particular job to increase their chances of being effective and productive.
CEB’s model of high potential talent defines a High Potential as one with the ability and aspiration to rise and to be successful in a senior position. Thus, to understand which leaders will be successful in the future, it is important for an organisation to create tailored career development of leaders. There is also a big need for an organisation to make sure that they retain valuable leaders when they are ready to take on next-level profiles.
What is the role of Big Data and analytics in inflecting business outcomes?
Burke: Big Data can potentially play a central role in inflecting business outcomes for growing organisations. The challenge of increasing productivity without increasing headcount is common, and organisations have started realising that good analytics can help identify which people to place in what positions, with a great level of accuracy. The outcome greatly helps in increasing the effectiveness and productivity of people.
Intelligent Big Data analysis also helps organisations identify those behaviours that are crucial to business success. For example, an organisation may recruit some very bright people but without information around how those people prefer to collaborate and network, the organisation will be incapable of providing them with support required to realise their full potential and level of effectiveness.In the Indian BPO industry, until a few years ago, the cost of people was low and an organisation just needed to add more people to match growth in business. Over a period of time, the industry evolved from doing purely transactional jobs to more insight-driven jobs. Through Big Data, organisations can understand and predict those behaviours in the talent pool, which are crucial to meet the challenges of new business demands from growth.