TalentMap.com helps companies ascertain their employees

What CATA Alliance members were worried about most was the loss of talented employees.

When CATA, an IT industry advocacy group, polled its members a few years ago on their concerns, the retention and attraction of talent was foremost on their minds. In working to address that, CATA determined that advocacy wasn’t enough. The group decided to take a more proactive approach, and together with KPMG and In-Touch Survey Systems, CATA decided to create a product designed to help companies monitor their employee’s job satisfaction levels.

TalentMap.com is an on-line employee survey. Company employees who participate answer a number of questions designed to gauge how happy they are with their jobs and what job factors they consider to be the most important. The survey, which just completed its pilot phase, will be offered twice a year in November and May. Once staff have completed the survey, the results are tabulated, and companies can find out how they rate with their employees, as well as benchmark their performance against other companies that are participating.

This process is important because the cost of recruiting new employees can be very high, said CATA Alliance president John Reid in Ottawa. The hard and soft costs of recruiting one employee can be one and a half times wage costs, and more, Reid said.

“What happens, too, is you disrupt the team. If you lose a key member of the team, it’s not only the cost of recruiting someone else again and training that person, you also lose the consistency of your work going forth.”

ObjecTime Ltd., a software development firm in Kanata, Ont., was one of the seven companies that participated in the pilot, and some of the results were eye-opening.

Before taking part in the TalentMap.com survey, ObjecTime had conducted its own survey the year before. The TalentMap.com survey both verified previous results and highlighted some new areas of concerns, said Carol Fairbairn, a human resources manager at ObjecTime.

She thinks that because the survey was conducted over the Internet by a third party, the high tech employees who participated probably felt more willing to answer the questions honestly.

“I think it’s very important to see how people are feeling,” Fairbairn said, especially since the developers working for ObjecTime could easily find a job just down the street.

Fairbairn plans to address the small concerns raised by the survey and wants ObjecTime to participate in the process at least once a year so that the company could continue to monitor its performance.

In June 1998, before they created TalentMap.com, KPMG and CATA conducted another Internet survey. They too were somewhat surprised by the results.

“In the past, we’d always looked at compensation being the issue, and compensation was not the thing that was coming back from the survey,” said Kathy Herties, a retention services human capital solutions lead at KPMG.

What employees were concerned about even more than money was training, career opportunity, work schedule flexibility, work load and job security, Herties said.

With TalentMap.com, employers will not only be able to measure how satisfied their employees are with certain aspects of their job, such as training, but they will also be able to gauge how important each of those factors are to their employees, she said.

“What happens when the results come back is the employers are immediately able to say, ‘Gosh, this is where we should put our energies – these are the weak areas we can fix,'” Herties said.

Reid said companies can then make sound decisions about their talent retention strategy. “In essence, it puts HR on the same level as finance in terms of indicators, so you actually can map what’s going on in terms of attitudes towards leadership. There’s a whole map that’s created that gives you a very clear picture in terms of turnover risk,” he said.