Do you ever wonder how companies like Google, Best Buy, P&G, Harrah’s, Dell, Starbucks and Sysco – to name just a few – consistently rank on Best Places to Work and Most Desirable Employers lists? It’s not just the fancy perks like free gourmet meals, stock options, on-site fitness facilities and flex schedules. (Well, not just that, anyway.)
The secret to their success is workforce data. These companies are able to position themselves as best places to work because they rely on data to inform all of their recruitment decisions. They gather data on everything from job seeker and employee perceptions, behaviors and desires (including even the above-mentioned ‘fancy perks’ employees want most) to industry trends and talent supply and demand. They then analyze this data to understand where to focus their recruitment efforts to get the best return on their investment.
Harrah’s, for example, used metrics to evaluate the effects of its health and wellness programs on employee engagement and the bottom line. Starbucks and Best Buy have established metrics that can precisely identify the value of a 0.1 percent increase in engagement among employees at a particular store. Sysco implemented analytics to identify which workforce factors influence employee satisfaction and how they correlated to higher revenue, lower costs, higher retention and stronger customer loyalty. The company then applied these findings to identify what actions by management will have the greatest impact on the business.Similarly, Google used talent intelligence to identify eight effective leadership behaviors, which the company now uses as criteria when considering performance reviews and staffing decisions.
Using Workforce Data: Six Habits of Highly Successful Employers
The above are just a few examples of how companies rely on data to understand both current and potential employees and use this intelligence to position themselves as desirable places to work. So how can you create a similar experience with data to see bottom-line results? Consider the following key concepts that companies who successfully recruit with data get right.
- They accept data as a crucial element of their business strategy. Gary Loveman, CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., attributes the success of Harrah’s marketing efforts to collection and analysis of data, an effort that has permitted Harrah’s to go from “what we think to what we know.” As my colleague Jason Lovelace noted in his post last week, companies have long used data as the basis for their marketing efforts to build their consumer brand and increase customer engagement and loyalty. Now, today’s best employers are applying the same efforts to their recruitment processes.
- They understand that talent intelligence is an investment. Unfortunately, the data employers and recruiters need to support their hiring and recruitment decision making is often inconsistent, redundant and of poor quality. More than 75 percent of companies who participated in Taleo and Human Capital Institute’s recent Talent Intelligence Study revealed that they did not have access to the talent data they need to make important business decisions. Smart employers understand that the time and money they invest in data up front will result in a greater return and save them time and money associated with recruitment over the long haul.
- They understand that having the right data is only half the equation. Knowing how to apply that data is the other (crucial) half. Not only do the aforementioned companies gather data on job seekers, employees and the industry overall, they go the extra mile to ensure they implement it. They understand that no matter how good their data is, if they do not use it and apply it to their recruitment efforts, it’s utterly useless.
- They set measurable goals. As with any business strategy, you need to start with a solid goal in mind. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or confused by the sheer abundance of data out there, so having a focused goal is crucial to help you narrow your efforts and stay focused. Again, data is an investment. Part of that investment should include finding a trustworthy data expert who can help you decide which data points to focus on to meet your goals, and later help you evaluate and create a strategy around this intelligence.
- They know that data is not one-size-fits-all. All businesses are unique and have unique needs. Again, there are data experts who specialize in helping employers understand which types of data will help them meet their own unique goals, taking into account the various factors that affect their organization and its recruitment efforts.
- They accept that there’s always room for improvement. No matter how efficient your current process is, there is always room for improvement or enhancement. Oftentimes, employers turn a blind eye to data because they do not want to face the possibility there are challenges to their recruitment process. While ignorance may be bliss, it comes at a price. Smart employers believe there’s no such thing as “negative” data: Every piece of information data reveals an opportunity to enhance their strategy and make them even stronger as an organization.
Bottom line: Data without context is meaningless.
Perhaps Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s very own SVP product manager, said it best when he wrote, “Data is the sword of the 21st century. Those who wield it well, the Samurai.” Getting the competitive advantage in today’s market isn’t just about having the strongest data (or the sharpest sword, if you will), but knowing how to use it as well. After all, data is only as strong as what you do with it. And those employers who understand this concept will have a competitive advantage – both now and in the longer term – when it comes to attracting and retaining their greatest business asset: their employees.