47 per cent of Canadian organizations reported having plans to
increase their use of contingent, outsourced, contract or part-time
workers in the next three to five years.
HR will need to find ways to recruit and retain this complex
collection of workers and ensure this is a factor when developing
strategy. While the group presents some challenges to traditional
HR practices, contract and freelance workers also offer significant
potential advantages. They’re typically highly skilled and agile.
Teams can be quickly assembled and disassembled. They can help
organizations increase the scalability of projects, and a globally
available workforce can extend an organization’s geographic reach.
While many of the organization’s business areas will study what
competitors in the marketplace might be doing, “We should consider
our competition not just in the marketplace, but also in terms
of competition for talent,” said Oldroyd. “Who are considered the
best employers out there? And what are their value propositions
compared to ours?”
Competition for the best employees is often fierce.
Understanding how others might be attracting that talent can provide
critical knowledge to help steer future direction.
METRICS AND ANALYSIS
Strategy relies, as a base, on a thorough understanding of starting
points and targets. That’s where measurement becomes crucial.
A 2015 report by Accenture, Talent management meets the science
of human behaviour, points out that nearly everything related to
people in the workforce can be measured and analyzed. According
to the report, “As new insights into brain science and human behaviour
emerge – and as analytics finally enable organizations to
test hypotheses and form conclusions by analyzing a newly available
treasure trove of data – HR will arm itself with the tools
and insights of a scientist to drive better performance from their
Practically speaking, metrics help an organization understand if
it’s staying on course with a strategic direction, or needs to readjust.
“In our organization, we have what we call a strategy scorecard,”
said Cerisano. “The scorecard outlines the strategic priorities, the
operational activities that we’re going to undertake to meet those
priorities, who’s accountable for them and the three-year plan to
get us there.” The scorecard helps Cerisano and her team define
how much change is going to happen, and by when. “From a workforce
implication standpoint, that’s critical information that an
HR professional needs in order to determine how quickly we need
to evolve our talent practices.”
Metrics can also glean insights about employees that can help
steer an organization.
“It’s not only about defining the HR strategy to support the
business, it’s also looking at the people you have and how you can
influence your strategy with that knowledge,” said Marful. For
example, he suggests that if your database tells you a number of
employees have a technical skillset that’s not being tapped, there
might be a way to leverage those latent abilities. Or you might discover
that the majority of people who leave the organization join a
certain type of company offering a particular service.
THERE’S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR
BUSINESS ACUMEN AND A DEEP
UNDERSTANDING OF HOW YOUR
ORGANIZATION MAKES MONEY.
“There might be an opportunity to use your workforce’s talents
to develop a service offering you don’t currently have,” said Marful.
“I think big data is changing the world for us,” said Oldroyd.
“Things like analytics really allow us to be able to inform the business
overall and the business strategy more proactively than we
would have been able to in the past.” This includes detailed information
about employees’ needs, preferences, areas of strength,
performance and more.
“For example, if you’ve really done a good job of segmentation in
understanding your employee insights and analytics, you can share
that data with the business so everyone has a better understanding
of where they need to build capability in the workforce if, for
example, our business strategy is focused on a particular area of
revenue growth,” said Oldroyd.
That’s a seismic shift from the earliest days of HR, when the department’s
role was purely transactional. Over time, it evolved to
focus on personnel management, and most recently came to embrace
the idea of HR as a strategic business partner.
As business begins to understand the impact of strategic HR
expertise, the profession is poised to take on a role with even greater
“If we share the best insight and expertise we can bring to an
organization, HR has an opportunity to be not just strategic, but
genuinely transformative,” said Oldroyd. n
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ MARCH/APRIL 2016 ❚ 23