Talent retention has long been communicated by companies as a key challenge.
Often companies instigate or upgrade Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) or engage consultants to help solve the problem.
Added to this, companies are now also concerned about internal talent mobility, as cited in The Australian’s story, ‘What they do not know can hurt them’ by David Wilson [November 26, 2011].
Wilson’s article states “employers desperate to match the right … to the right jobs face chronic shortages of computerised staff background information and data to make fully informed decisions.” This may well be the case, but the solution to these challenges does not necessarily rest with having more computerised data about staff – well not initially, anyway.
What companies need to look at is their overall process, rather than jumping in to buy or upgrade their HRIS. While having a snappier computer system is theoretically easy (albeit expensive), it rarely fixes the real problem – which is the data these systems contain.
Data is only as good as the relevance of information inputted. Which, in reality, often has little input from the staff member – rather, it contains their resume (a historical document) and some personal or interview data and maybe some performance reviews. All offer questionable strategic value.
I can understand why companies jump to the solution bringing in a new system, as fixing the fundamentals around anything to do with staff is difficult.
Getting your staff/talent management processes in order generally requires a change in behaviours by line managers. As a first step, it is crucial to have line managers, executives and HR staff engaged in regular, authentic face-to-face conversations with staff about their career plans and ambitions.
A good option is to link this process to their KPIs and/or bonus targets.
HR also needs to create the process for capturing, recording and updating information.
If you don’t have a HRIS, or if you are considering a new system, it pays to see if you can trial the system first, as you want to make sure your internal processes are working before you outlay huge sums of money on a HRIS system.
According to Wilson’s article, 66% of surveyed HR personnel said their companies did not have enough talent profiles on staff, and 55% said their organisation had no staff mobility process. This confirms the need to get the process and behaviours right before the computer system.
Think about your organisation for a moment:
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• What are the behaviours of line managers around the career development of their staff?
• How frequently do authentic career conversations occur?
• Are the career conversations tied to the line managers’ KPIs and/or bonuses?
• Does the company have effective processes in place to initiate, record and utilise staff data?
• Do you have a HRIS? How effective is it? If it is not working, is it because of the system or the behaviours of line managers and the processes?
Research continually shows that good people leave companies namely due to poor management and lack of career development opportunities.
Retention and mobility of staff all comes back to having regular and frequent conversations with people about their career plans. No system in the world can replace the value these conversations can provide in terms of a competitive advantage. Better still, it costs you nothing!
Having a good HRIS or database is important for talent retention and mobility, however it comes second to having the right processes and behaviours in place.