By: Dona Dezube
In today’s fast-paced business world, the complexities of talent acquisition and talent management have accelerated into high gear, driven by longer life spans, cultural and ethnic diversity and a highly-competitive global recruitment landscape.
Within this landscape, forward-thinking companies are using data segmentation to analyze smaller and smaller segments of their workforce as they develop strategic human capital plans, target job candidates and tailor employee benefits to match individual values, personality and behaviors.
In a world where “one size fits all” no longer applies, data analytics enable companies to hone their talent acquisition, employee compensation and employee retention policies, making them more dynamic, agile and personalized than ever before.
Obtaining Meaningful HR Data
While analytics-gathering may be somewhat new territory for human resources, the methods for collecting data about employees are not, says Susan Cantrell, a research fellow at the Accenture Institute for High Performance and co-author of Workforce of One: Revolutionizing Talent Management through Customization. These tactics include employee surveys, exit interviews and the tracking of employee life events, relocation data, benefits updates and promotions.
More recently, social media platforms such as online discussion groups, blogs and Wikis, can also provide clues about generational and cultural differences.
Given the wide variety of available material, the challenge facing most HR professionals isn’t a lack of data, but more often finding funding to create or purchase an outsourced analytics group to interpret the data. One option, says Cantrell, is to borrow resources from the marketing department, who are often well-acquainted with how to utilize analytics.
Differentiating Individual Need
Analytic data can uncover broader cultural social norms about your employees. For example, in India, employees are proud when a letter praising their work is sent to their parents; in Indiana, the same letter would likely generate a very different effect.
It can also reveal significant differences among smaller employee segments about the value of employee benefits such as pay, work assignments or workplace flexibility.
Cantrell points to analytics research done by the Royal Bank of Scotland, which showed that in the US, employees want health care, while Brits with socialized medicine don’t need this -- they rank integrity and trust in the management team as more important. The Japanese care most about the organization’s values, putting pay for performance (a commonplace practice in the United States) at the bottom of their list, while in the United States, personal development is considered most important.
Beneath these broad cultural differences are the individual needs and desires of small segments of employees. Companies can boost retention by designing career and benefit options that appeal to these niche segments.
Workers will accept the idea of differentiated work relationships, as long as those options are logical and clearly communicated. The key, adds Cantrell, is transparency. Include employees in your decision-making process and provide the business reasons behind what you’re doing.
Segmentation that Shapes Recruitment
Segmentation analysis is also an effective tool in human capital design and recruitment, says Edward E. Lawler III, co-author of Management Reset: Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness, allowing employers to classify employees by skills, rather than broad-based job descriptions.
To do so, says Lawler, managers should start by developing a clear descriptions of the skills needed to achieve the company’s goals and then determine the prevalence of those skills both within and outside of the organization. Finally, these skills should be combined into logical combinations that HR can utilize to write a job description.
Lawler would go one step further to identify employees whose performance is critical to corporate success and reward them at above-market rates.
“HR has to decide which is worth more -- the person or the job -- and recognize situations in which having an exceptional employee will provide a big payoff for the company,” he says.
Effectively Market Your Employer Brand
Having an innovative talent management system is the only the first step, says Lawler. Companies must also successfully market their job postings and the unique employee benefits that they offer.
Lawler sites Google as a good example. Given their successful business model, it is able to attract the best candidates. Google has also done a great job telling the story of what it’s like to work there.
“Another one of my favorites is NetFlix,” he adds. “If you go to their website, they brand themselves by their work ethic, saying in so many words that, ‘Our reward for good performance is your being able to stay on as an employee. We pay above the market, but we have zero tolerance for poor performance or people who don’t fit our skill set.’”
A well-defined recruiting strategy will help reduce time to hire as it quickly attracts the right employees and helps eliminate those who aren’t a good fit.
As you craft your firm’s story, consider how it can be incorporated into every aspect of your communications, including job descriptions, your company’s website, in promotions, ads and other online campaigns, as well as in your mobile recruitment strategies.
Expanding HR’s Role
Finally, a highly-segmented talent management strategy requires that HR professionals convince their management to be more involved in the overall design and architecture of human capital allocation. To accomplish this, Lawler recommends that human resources rotate in some of the company’s most promising executives.
“It comes down to management’s belief about the centrality of human capital to the organization,” he says.
Here’s the other part of the equation: HR professionals should rotate outside their department to better grasp the company’s business. Doing so, says Lawler, will help management better understand that “organizational efficiency is the result of an integration of talent design strategy and the people who can execute around that strategy.”