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Empowering through alignment of talent management Featured

Empowering through alignment of talent management Featured

Celebrating 15 years of empowering organizations globally and helping them manage a crucial organizational asset – people, hSenid Business Solutions, the HR arm of the organist, commemorated the occasion with an HR conference based on the theme ‘Aligning Talent Management with Organizational Strategy’.


Held yesterday, the conference was simply a part of the extensive programmes carried out since April in celebration of the organisation’s anniversary. The conference also marked the launch of the ‘HR Sri Lanka’ website, a platform that will serve as a one-stop location for Sri Lanka’s HR professionals and serve to inspire the community to become international trendsetters while providing a forum on which professionals can actively engage with each other.


“As a leader in the HR domain, what we are attempting to do through this HR conference, which is being held in conjunction to the 15th anniversary of hSenid Business Solutions, is to focus on HR analytics this year. The reason behind this idea came about because hSenid over its years of operations, has acquired a lot of HR data and we now want to bring about analytical capabilities so that people can make very informed decisions based on this data,” stated Founder and CEO of the hSenid Group of Companies Dinesh Saparamadu.


Analytics applied to HR

The conference kicked off with a presentation delivered by Deloitte Consulting South East Asia Human Capital Consulting Director Mario Ferraro who spoke on HR analytics in managing talent which delved into the issue of ensuring that the correct talent is placed in the correct role within an organisation.


Analytics helps an organisation identify what exactly what the problem by allowing a deep analysis of the issue at hand. Deductive and inductive techniques are used in such analysis and while it sounds very technical, Ferraro stressed on the importance of distinguishing between the two. “Deductive techniques are when you start from an assumption or theory about correlations, create a metric around it measure it and find out whether it is true or not. All HR metrics in the world come from this sort of thinking and it needs to be validated,” he explained.


In contrast, inductive techniques start from zero assumptions – you look at all the data you have and let the data tell you what is going on, where there are some correlations, what factors are affecting other factors.  It employs a bottom-up, data driven approach and Ferraro revealed that at when working on a project at Deloitte, they filter through data from the HR database, customer database, telephone logs, financial databases, e-mail correspondence and websites people have visited amongst many others, noting that it offers useful information to retain employees.


“On a project that we worked on for a customer, one factor that contributed the most to was turnover the commuter factor – how long people had to spend to commute to work. More often than not, there is more than one factor and then you have to decide where to target your actions, where to spend your money and focus your efforts. A word of warning about inductive techniques – you must be careful not to make assumptions, make sure to go back and test correlations,” he cautioned.


In terms of employee retention, Ferraro stated that Deloitte has looked at several factors to be able to handle situations better. They have looked at the supply and demand of talent, future demand and supply of skills, reason for absenteeism and through these examined how to minimize turnover, if it is happening in specific functions or teams, how much does it cost you and so on. Many employers now monitor what employees do on their computers as part of these analytic.


“If you don’t understand the invisible organisation within the organisation you work in, it will be very difficult for you to manage your employees. You need to understand how your employees are grouped, what they are interested in, what difficulties and challenges they face, who influences them. There is so much information that you can gather that can help you manage them better. This is not spying on your employees – it is important information to have,” he stated. Furthermore, it allows the monitoring of fraud, health and productivity, furthers the optimization of the workforce – all of which comes in useful at an enterprise level, Ferraro added.


Challenge the common way of doing things, he said encouragingly. To apply analytics to the HR function directly, the same practices can be employed by looking at the many aspects of how the HR function operates. “You can add a lot of information to each employee record that will add to what you would typically capture. Now from that enriched data, you can actually derive some interesting insights. You can enrich and supplement the data that you have in order to do analytics.”


Where is your talent?

The second speaker of the morning was Hayleys PLC Group Human Resources Head Sunil Dissanayake who addressed the topic ‘Aligning talent management with organisational strategy,’ which addressed how an organisation can effectively use performance assessment methodologies to identify the high potential employees.


“I personally believe that in everything we do in terms of employees, whether measuring performance of people or identifying talent – for all this the foundation has to be an effective performance management system. If you don’t have that, the transparencies will simply not be there – people will be disgruntled. From that you build the other pillars – I’ve identified four core pillars, namely rewards and recognition, identifying talent pools and employee retention, training and development and succession planning,” he said.


Dissanyake then emphasised upon the importance of information through which transparency can be created. In addition to that, employees have a sense of achievement when there is a strong performance management system in place through which their progress is monitored and is recognised and rewarded.


“Ideally performance evaluation systems have two major areas of measurement – one to assess performance and one to assess potential. Potential can be brought up with the availability of certain factors – have the right kind of boss who will give the right kind of opportunities and not put down the person and by providing a suitable working environment that does not stifle employees,” Dissanyake explained. “Sometimes we promote people for the sake of promoting and promote people to the wrong job – that is where job evaluation comes in to make sure the incumbent is ready to move onto the next level. Potential is about the future and performance is about the past – that is the key differentiators between the two. Good performance in a past role may not be an indicator of likely performance in a role the person has not been in before.”


Employing talent at a higher price is an investment in the long term for any organisation, he asserted. “At Hayleys, we don’t scrimp on that. If we come across a person that we feel would be of value to the company we hire the person at any cost. To be sure of the person you are employing, you need to have proper employment methodologies. Most of the time, people are hired over a five minute interview and then you spend more time trying to get rid of the individual,” Dissanayake pointed out.


HR’s role in achieving a green culture

The final speaker of the conference was Eswaran Brothers Exports Vice Chairman Subramaniam Eassuwaren who spoke on the ‘green’ aspect of HR and highlighted the important role that the HR function can play in implementing green initiatives in an organisation.


In the recent past, global giants have been seen moving onto a green agenda for many reasons: the company’s brand image, cost savings – it can improve your bottom line considerably, competitive advantage, employee satisfaction, morale or retention, product, service or market innovation, business process innovation, new sources of revenue or cash flow and improves shareholder relations.


In the same manner, Eassuwaren observed that many major Sri Lankan corporates are setting a very strong green agenda and are moving towards it. Eco labelled products are no longer a niche and some of the big names that made this environmentally sustainable switch include TESCO, Wal-Mart, Marks & Spencer, Timberland, PUMA, Fiji Water and Hyundai. “Your company can be green by implementing a proactive strategic tool known as an environmental management system to gain competitive advantage. An EMS includes commitment and policy, planning and implementation and review and improvement,” he explained.


“Many of these companies hire an environmental coordinator who is supposed to overlook everything green in the company but it doesn’t work that way. As with any new idea, policy or culture being implemented, the HR function needs to play a very vital role in this. In order to carry out green engagement and employee needs to be inspired, empowered and knowledgeable on green facts and this is where the HR departments of your companies should get very seriously involved,” stated Eassuwaren.


Bottom line benefits consist of the fact that it is a show of good corporate citizenship, reduce costs, increased productivity, important public relations and brand building, response to customer concerns, respond to employee concerns, pre-empts regulation and benefits from government incentives and an organisation can experience competitive advantages.


Younger employees want to be part of something larger, they don’t want to just get their pay cheque and go home and having a green initiative can help you fill in this need, Eassuwaren pointed out. How can you engage with people who want to do this within your company?


“Many Sri Lankans are passionate about the environment and care about the country. This is an innate presence already existing in your workforce so how do you harness it? The main thing is to have a system set up to allow employees to share their creative ideas with you. Many companies including MAS hold forums regularly that allow employees to air their ideas. In companies like this we have seen many employees eager to come out, share their ideas and become more engaged with the company’s performance.”


HR has a role to play as it is the best placed business function to implement such change and while its scope may be limited to changing the mindset of employees, HR has a significant opportunity to contribute to the green movement within their respective organisations, he explained. Furthermore, younger generations of employees prefer to work for companies with a green initiative as a part of their core values.