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Rosie Warner

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Catching stars – talent management and technology

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Talent management is a thorny issue which touches everything from recruitment, to retention, through to succession planning. Many are utilising technology to help them plan for and manage their talent needs, but what difference can it make to HR?

1 What are the main challenges you find HR is facing today?
As companies begin to emerge from the economic downturn and shift their focus away from re-modelling their businesses for survival to structuring them for growth, HR teams need to ensure they have the correct long-term employee talent in place to take the business to the next level. Talent management has its challenges, particularly when trying to retain the best people in a fluid environment, often with limited resources available for compensation.

Management of knowledge is also another challenge faced by HR teams. When people who have built up large reservoirs of experience move on, or up, they take that knowledge with them. This can be quite disruptive, especially when it happens regularly or on a large scale.  So, ensuring that there is a knowledge transfer programme in place where knowledge is not too concentrated in individuals and is accessible to the right people across the business is more important than ever.

Finally, succession planning brings with it obstacles for HR managers in a fluid environment. If employees are moving on, HR needs to have a  succession planning strategy in place that accommodates all levels of employees, so it can better manage retention; develop top talent however early on employees are in their career; be agile enough to react to employee churn; and as a business successfully transfer knowledge.

2 How can technology help HR be more effective within the organisation?
Technology can make a huge difference to the way HR works. It can transform the dialogue between employees and employers, and help to plan consistent, strategically-informed communications and training across an entire organisation. Additionally, technology empowers HR to provide the vision necessary for more cost-effective operations and to uncover opportunities for improvement, through the use of analytical-driven software.

Today, integrated real-time applications can help HR to map and match top performing employee profiles and talent pools to current and future job openings. These applications can also help HR to integrate data from a wide array of functions such as finance, HR and sales into a seamless system to empower HR (and front-line managers) to analyse workforce staffing and productivity.

Therefore, stakeholders can monitor workforce demographics in line with recruitment and retention objectives, analyse the efficiency of the entire recruitment process lifecycle, and better understand the drivers of employee turnover, for example.

Furthermore, companies can successfully introduce variable remuneration models that are compliant by breaking down the traditional front and back office silos and bringing together sales, finance and HR data into a seamless application. This can help managers to analyse how employees want to be rewarded and to take action based on informed decisions.

Also, process-driven communications helps HR to align the workforce to organisational and corporate goals and it enables two-way open communication to help HR to better understand workforce needs, current morale levels, and the potential risks of employee churn.

3 Can it help HR prove its worth tangibly?
There has been great progress made in reviewing and measuring HR initiatives and demonstrating the links between sound people management and improved profits.

The enhanced technology-driven metrics and tools now available to HR mean that the return on investment (ROI) of running dedicated initiatives, such as talent management, succession planning, and analysing employee turnover; can be directly mapped against the performance of the business. 

The predictive capabilities of new technology applications can also give HR a different, more strategic voice. Knowledge and performance data can now be shared across different business functions through easily accessible portals and platforms, to create a seamless three hundred and sixty degree view of people performance against business performance and profits. In this way, the results of good people management are more consistently on display and the value of HR, in metric terms, can be easily presented to executives.

4 How can we get buy-in from our FD to implement a system like this?
HR’s increasingly rigorous approach to performance measurement provides a solid business case for investment. Technology based applications will give the FD greater visibility of the costs and returns generated by human capital – showing them how they can make the business more operationally cost efficient and profitable.

After all, the cost of replacing an employee is 150 per cent of an employee’s remuneration package. This includes the direct costs of an employee leaving, needing to be replaced and the transition of the position to a new employee and the impact on productivity and performance in the interim period.

Therefore, it makes economic sense for an FD to be able to analyse the costs of employee turnover, for example. HR applications enable the streamlining of administration and free up higher-level skill-sets for fresh thinking, agility and scalability, which will help companies to grow their top line, whilst working to shrink their capital expenditure. 

5. How can it assist within a shared service environment?
This is all about lightening the administrative load across an organisation. With the right kind of portal, employees have direct access to the information they need and routine requests can be channelled and processed more efficiently. Simpler HR tasks can be transferred to a more cost-effective skill-set thanks to the higher level of support and guidance the system provides.

More complex matters are swiftly directed to the appropriate specialists. From the employee perspective, the consistency and quality of communications improves and they have more time to get on with the job. In addition, built-in tracking capabilities give a clear, real-time overview of issues affecting the business – quicker and more effective than a thousand questionnaires and surveys.

Rosie Warner, Oracle, HCM Business Development Manager

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