Your employees are your greatest resource, use them

I always found it odd that, in my experience, one of the most conservative departments in most companies is the human resources department.  I found it odd because this should be the department with its finger

Tony Ross: Director of Communications at Provalis Research

Tony Ross: Director of Communications at Provalis Research

on the pulse of the company and its employees. And especially odd since when HR was dealing with new generations of employees every day why did so many of their programs, practices and tools seem tied to the past? Ok, I understand tried and true and if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, but innovation was the mantra in other departments and championed. When HR made changes it was often to reduce costs or streamline processes such as changing the health insurance provider, bringing in a new consulting firm or altering the compensation scheme. It was also almost always a top down mandate initiated by the C-suite. The resulting change appeared to be more of the same in new wrapping to follow suit with what was the flavor of the month or the year such as; wellness programs, higher co-pays, more stock based compensation, less stock based compensation, more option programs, fewer option programs, higher individual bonuses, more team based bonuses, etc. And where did these ideas and practices come from? They often came from a consulting firm hired by the HR department to advise them or tell them how to realize the savings mandated from above.

One way communication

The other thing I found odd was that most HR communication was one-way through directives, newsletters, policy pronouncements, speeches, videos, posters, webinars etc. We did occasionally fill out quantitative questionnaires that were usually based on the previous year’s questionnaire with a few added wrinkles to test what we thought of the new co-pay policy or compensation scheme. In other words, we were being asked to comment on existing policies. We did have the odd townhall or Q&A session as part of a webinar. But the agenda was mostly top down and the questions tended to be about details with respect to existing policies and were rarely challenging or thought provoking.

Missed opportunities

I am not saying this was bad but it was pretty pedestrian and filled with what I believe were missed opportunities from not maximizing resources. Almost everywhere I have worked we had either a vision statement/mission statement or some other type of document setting out the goals and beliefs of the company. Somewhere there were words about employees being an important resource or important to the success of the business.  But their feedback or opinions, while solicited, went largely un-mined. They weren’t ignored, but their views weren’t systematically explored like production times, cost of materials and customer feedback.

Set the agenda and find out what you don’t know or are afraid to ask

It is by optimizing that feedback using text analytics and text mining technology where I believe an HR team can be a real leader in setting the corporate agenda. In today’s digital age feedback is everywhere. We have formats on which we can easily store it and analyze it. Companies are setting up internal and external digital networks with blogs and social media. Employees use sanctioned and unsanctioned websites to talk about their workplace and business. Performance reviews, development plans, exit interviews, hiring interviews from successful and unsuccessful candidates contain information about how your company, its managers, products, culture, philanthropy, social responsibility and so on. Mining and analyzing this unstructured text data can help craft better job postings, identify and develop new training programs, reduce turnover, flag unknown personnel or business issues, identify and share best practices. Could comprehensive text analysis of exit interview have raised an issue that would have prevented a large bank from recently running into trouble with regulators and customers?

If it’s good for the customer, it’s good for the employee, it’s good for the business

Text analysis is being used to analyze customer feedback and develop marketing strategies to improve businesses across the globe. The qualitative data found in open-ended questions is being combined with the quantitative data to tell sales people, marketers and operations people what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong and it helps them to improve and find new innovative ways to build their business.  If employees are the HR department’s customers then why are they not using the same technology to improve their business?

There are companies selling expensive employee feedback systems with fancy looking dashboard displays and expensive bells and whistles. More consultants and more overhead! It doesn’t have to be expensive and it can save you time and money. We believe you can add extra value to your business by utilizing our software packages on your existing data sources with your current employees.

If you would like to have a demonstration to let us show you how our text analytics software could make you a leader in HR contact us at info@provalisresearch.com

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