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HR and Employees Are the Same Thing

HR and Employees Are the Same Thing

The equation might not seem worth pointing out. It might seem simplistic, even not quite accurate. But the point of it is that, without employees, HR would have no raison d'être, and when aligning with corporate strategy, goals and objectives, HR and employees might as well be the same thing.

Lots of research says organizations that perform best have boardroom leaders and their employees working in loose, yet undeniable, concert, all toward shared goals. How consciously those goals may be shared is debatable; at times, they might be existentially clear to everyone, and at other times, they may only be unconsciously shared. But they're mostly shared, most of the time. That's the key takeaway.

In recent weeks, this blog has explored not only HR departments' apparent desire to bring about this alignment, but also employee assessment's role in ensuring that the alignment has a fighting chance of taking hold. But how can organizations gauge the state of that alignment? How can they measure it? In this, employee assessment and the technologies that support and facilitate it again play a role. So does non-HR–related indicators of business performance, such as revenues and profits, and from high profits and revenues, HR infers a correlation with alignment, higher profits' and revenues' causation.

To drill into specifics, however, an HR department needs workforce analytics. And the kind of technology that generates these analytics best, workforce optimization technology, is growing in prevalence. Last year, findings from the "CedarCrestone 2010-2011: HR Systems Survey" projected that workforce optimization technologies would see a greater than 90 percent jump in use over the three years that followed. A perennial study exploring year-over-year trends in HR systems and the use of associated technology, CedarCrestone's report compiled data culled from nearly 1,300 organizations together employing more than 20 million.

Research from elsewhere appears to corroborate CedarCrestone's. The result of qualitative and quantitative research, conducted from late 2009 through mid-2010, into the challenges and objectives reported by more than 700 CHROs worldwide, findings from the "2010 IBM Global Chief Human Resource Officer" easily imply a growing need in workforce optimization technology: Growth markets are driving these HR leaders' thinking, and with emigration to growth markets comes a need to deal with rising headcounts, these markets' defining characteristic. HR leaders need workforce analytics to know how best to allocate staff globally.

And they need it badly. "The Link between Strategic Alignment and Staff Productivity," a report jointly commissioned by SuccessFactors and Accenture, indicates that the organization that knows who all of its top performing staff is, or has succession plans in place for anyone, to fill any number of positions, is rare. Their research into 450 organizations, each employing 3,000 or more in a wide array of industries and countries, finds that only 17 percent appear to have this kind of basic, actionable intelligence.

Analytics equal intelligence, and technology is necessary, really, for analytics' aggregation. Among the same businesses surveyed SuccessFactors et al., just 12 percent have an IT system that delivers the information needed for goal management and execution. That's paltry, especially when plenty of viable workforce optimization technology is available. In the near future, this blog will look at some.