Companies around the globe are in turmoil as the talent gap continues to widen, workers resign en masse, and unionization efforts intensify following post-pandemic trends such as the ‘Great Resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting’.
Speaking at IT World Canada’s second annual Analytics Unleashed event, Stela Lupushor, author of Humanizing Human Capital and former social analytics leader at IBM, zeroed in on the value of technology and most precisely, analytics, as the key to dealing with this unprecedented volatility in the labour market.
“Measurements can help drive the behavior we expect and help us glean or spot the opportunities for improvement or intervention,” she said.
Whether it is measuring process efficiencies, the talent acquisition process, or evaluating pay based on market standards, the opportunities to capture data throughout a worker’s journey, from the time they apply and are hired, to the time they leave, are immense.
First, she explained, companies can start with differentiating between what matters for HR (human resources) versus what the workforce experience looks like, and how data on positive or negative outcomes can impact that experience.
“Where is it that the paper cuts are happening, because people are not quitting overnight? So is there a way to look at the end to end journey and identify those paper cuts where they occur, and put interventions in place, be it a new retention program, or perhaps look to do a better job at onboarding people so they get integrated within the network much faster, or possibly look at the quality of talent that we hire, or the quality of manager and stability of that manager, because all of that has an impact on employees’ decisions to stay or leave,” she said.
Secondly, businesses can measure whether there is a correlation between how they train and develop their workforce and customer satisfaction. “There should be a linkage between the two. Is that a relationship between the profitability and the quality of talent we bring or the type of reward system we put in place? This way, we can integrate not only what HR does, but the impact it has on the workforce, and identify areas of investments that will have the biggest impact on business outcomes.” said Lupushor.
Even companies that have flourished for years and been known to deliver unmatched customer experience are struggling to find, nurture and retain workers. Multinational coffeehouse chain Starbucks, for instance, recently had to close over 100 of its stores as employees went on strike and “are no longer willing to accept whatever indignities they feel they are subjected to, be that understaffed, underpaid, overworked and stressed,” she explained.
The key to dealing with employees’ disengagement is to bring the customer experience internally into the world of work. “My biggest question to all of you is, how can a worker deliver a great experience to the customer when they do not know what that feels like, internally,” she said.
That requires treating everyone like a prospective employee. Negative experiences, whether it’s being ghosted during the application process, or managers not showing up for interviews, will not only have an impact on how employees (if they get an offer) will behave and perform afterwards, but also how others (applicants not hired) perceive and talk about your company.
Moreover, Lupushor explained how there is equal value in the brand of the company and that of the individual. “When you bring somebody who is exceptional at their skill, maybe the top in their field, it amplifies the value of the company’s brand. And vice versa, when you have a company that is responsible, that is respected, having that company’s brand on your resumé makes a big difference. So many organizations consider investing in the employees’ brand.”
Businesses can also endeavor to leverage technology in order to revamp the physical space that allows people to be productive, regardless of where employees are, physically. Lupushor recommends having productivity tools, measurements, and automation designed to facilitate work processes and allow employees to deliver to customers the very positive experience that they have as workers. Furthermore, badges, evaluation systems, or reputation points can encourage employees to continue to grow at work, she said.
Regardless, empathy needs to be at the core of the HR policies and workplace environment. That does not mean that a company will be able to provide everything for everyone, especially given each worker has a different value proposition, life circumstance, or expectations. “But what’s important,” she explained, “is to choose what is it that we as a company want to be known for, then, based on that, say, alright, we want to be the company where you may not get the top salary, or you may not get the top benefits, but you will get the best education that will position you for the rest of your life.”