In the past, IT and HR were rarely functions you talked about in the same sentence. But in my years of HR experience and current role of Senior VP of Human Resources at Kforce, I’ve learned that they should be combined often if you want to foster a great employee experience. Using the right tools throughout an employee’s lifecycle can create an environment where employees are both happy and productive. Our team uses technology to ensure employees are right for the company, in the role best suited to them and positioned to grow professionally.
At the beginning of a candidate’s lifecycle, as part of the selection process, we ask each candidate to complete a Talent Analytics assessment. While there are different personalities that can be successful in a role, we’ve learned to identify profiles that indicate higher percentages of success and satisfaction for both the candidate and the firm. Especially in roles like sales and recruitment where we have a lot of data to benchmark against, we get a pretty clear picture on whether or not a candidate will thrive in the position. We can also use the data to see where the candidate fits within the existing dynamics on their team or with their leader. Granted it’s just one piece of the puzzle when hiring, but it is another important piece.
"Whether the goal is to provide better individual or team personality insights, plan for succession more efficiently and holistically or help retain employees through training and recognition, there’s a tool out there to improve the experience"
Once a candidate becomes an employee, it’s crucial that they don’t feel forgotten, and that we continue to build a path for their career and grow their skills. One method to do this is the nine-box grid, where each leader charts the individuals on their team based on their current performance and future potential. When all employees are charted, we end up with a comprehensive database of who the superstars are with high performance and high potential and who the subject matter experts are with high performance who are perfectly happy in their current role. The grid also makes it clear if you have people that aren’t performing. As a leader, you need to be able to coach them to either improve their performance in that position, evaluate if there’s a position better suited to them within the firm or determine if the firm is just not the right fit for the business or the employee. The key here is the connectivity the technology provides between leaders to look across teams, cross-pollinate talent as needed and build a pipeline for internal succession.
Exercises like this encourage open and continuous dialogue about employee development. Depending on leadership style, when people sit down for their performance appraisal, sometimes it’s a surprise for the employee, and we really want to avoid that. Leader conversations should be ongoing through regular one-on-ones and training with their team. For about 20 years, I worked in a manufacturing environment that completely did away with formal performance appraisals and our CEO used to say it was the best thing HR ever did. Especially with large teams of up to 100 reports, continuous feedback was much more effective than a performance appraisal meeting that mentions events from up to12 months ago. Continuous feedback, good or bad, is key for this method to be successful.
While frequent conversations and a clear career path are important, retention is also a key piece of employee culture. Enter a strong learning management system that can help turn your feedback into actionable steps for an employee to improve. We’ve invested in a system that offers thousands of courses to all employees. From the time an employee is onboarded, we know the modules that should put them in a position to ramp up quickly and succeed. Beyond initial training, leveraging the system properly helps not only those employees that may be falling behind in performance to catch up but can also push high performers to the next level.
Another crucial aspect of retention is a recognition program that celebrates employee milestones, exceptional performance and role models of the culture. There are plenty of tools available to help implement a meaningful recognition program. I find it most appreciated when employees are given a choice on how they’d like to be rewarded, whether it’s a gift card or lunch with an executive. It sounds simple, but recognition is a huge factor in retention for both those looking to grow into leadership and those who are satisfied where they are.
Ultimately, I encourage HR organizations of any size to look at how your programs can work better for your employees with the right technology in place. Whether the goal is to provide better individual or team personality insights, plan for succession more efficiently and holistically or help retain employees through training and recognition, there’s a tool out there to improve the experience. Each of these touchpoints is a piece of the puzzle to building a world-class workforce.