Communication vital when sharing workforce data

26 Apr 2013

Making the sense of data can be a daunting task. That’s especially true for those in workforce analytics: How can you take the information you’ve developed and present it in a way that’s useful and easy to understand?

The key is to make sure you know what the client – whether it’s the finance department or a corporate leadership team — wants, says Michael Manning, senior manager of human capital analytics and strategic workforce planning and engagement at Edison International.

“What is the customer looking for? You want to make sure you’re providing the right data, something that’s helpful, not just interesting,” says Manning, who will lead a WFP & Analytics Workshop at the third annual Workforce Planning Conference: Fostering Knowledge Exchange and Collaboration on June 10-12 in Las Vegas with Peter Louch, founder and CEO of Vemo. “Sit down and ask questions and find out what their issues are. Communication is key throughout this whole process.”

People are looking to the workforce analytics gathered to help make a decision and Manning says it’s better to provide too little than too much so that the clients become overwhelmed. “They can always ask for more information and then you can provide it,” he says.
Another tip for successfully sharing the information gathered is how it’s presented. For example, a SIPOC chart, a process improvement tool, can be used to clearly show various forms of information, says Manning, who has been involved in all three Workforce Planning Conferences. “You could also turn it into a SIPOC-D chart, which means you’re adding on ‘decision’ to the standard suppliers, inputs, process, outputs and customers listings. By putting the decision in there, you can link the action back to the data gathered.”

The chart can also include a dictionary tab so readers know where the data came from. “That way, there’s no questions and they can get the answers they want right there,” Manning says.
Putting together an attractive display with all the right information is meaningless, however, unless the customer uses it. One trick Manning does is to deliver the information via email on a set schedule. “It’s right there in their in box. They don’t have to log on to any special site – it’s right there,” he says. “You need to make it as easy as possible for the users to get the information they need.”

Strategic workforce planning is more important than ever now for businesses as they realize having the right kind of workers at the right place and time is essential for success, says Angela Sheffield, head of strategic workforce planning for Applied Materials and another speaker at the upcoming conference.

“Organization leaders realize they need a specific strategy when it comes to talent. Depending on the industry, they may be dealing with retiring workforce or perhaps there’s not enough grads coming out of college with the skills they need,” she says. “The key is to identify what the needs are and then develop a strategy on how those needs are going to be met.”

Sheffield says strategic workforce planning along with organizational effectiveness is becoming a part of the ongoing, everyday discussion in organizations – whether they are large multi-national corporations or non-profits. “It’s being added to the whole strategy dialogue. You need to have the right talent at the right time for your organization to be a success,” she says. “We’re working with leaders to identify what the needs are and then develop detailed action plans to make sure the needs are met.”

At the end of the day, professionals working in workforce analytics need to be a resource for the rest of the company, Manning says. “You are providing them with strategic information that will help them do their jobs better,” he says. “Get out there and ask what kind of data and information people want and then deliver it.”

Manning is looking forward to the Workforce Planning Conference and sharing more about how Edison has used technology to create processes that mass customize more than 150 slices of workforce data monthly while reducing costs associated with analytics. “There are a lot of best practices out there and we can all benefit from sharing with each other,” he says.

TMA-fb-workforce-planningCompanies interested in learning more about this important topic and other Workforce Planning related case studies are invited to attend TMA’s Workforce Planning Conference on June 10th -12th at the Renaissance Hotel, Las Vegas, NV. There will be a track focusing on Human Capital Analytics. View the complete agenda for more details.