What’s Time to Hire, And Why Does it Matter

It’s no longer news that today’s job market is very tight. Finding good candidates for almost every role is harder than ever. Job boards, staffing agencies, company websites, social media, and referral programs are all flooded with open positions.

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What this means is that job candidates have their choice of roles and are able to consider multiple new positions simultaneously. It’s not enough to attract candidates and get them in the door, you’ve got to make a decision and make the offer before your competitors do. The alternatives are open positions or compromising on new hires’ qualifications and experience.

To be clear, it’s not just about being the first to hire. After all, candidates will find ways to stall and pause in order to have multiple offers to weigh. However, it’s important that the hiring process not send a message to new hires that your businesses is disorganized and/or incapable of making timely decisions.

The hiring process is the first real interaction your potential hire has with your organization. You want the experience to send an accurate message about your company culture and to comfort new hires that they’ll enjoy being part of the team.

Taking a step back, “time to hire” is the time elapsed between engaging a candidate and their acceptance of an offer. There are three major factors impacting your efficiency here:

  1. How long does it take you to spot the right candidate from your pool of applicants?
  2. How fast do you get started once you find the right person?
  3. Where are there potential bottlenecks in your hiring process that make the process take longer?

Note that this is not about sourcing. What channels work for attracting candidates is important, but it’s only part of the picture. There are any number of external factors that impact your organization’s ability to attract candidates.

Likewise, there are any number of factors that might impact the time between a candidate accepts an offer and the time they actually begin working. Things like personal commitments or obligations to a current employer may lead to a delay in starting work.

But Time to Hire is all about the efficiency of your internal process, which means it impacts your ability to compete. Understanding and improving your time to hire lets you directly impact the overall performance of your business.

Of course, you’ll need internal benchmarks to begin your improvement process. You can find industry averages to get a ballpark figure on your organization is doing relative to those averages.

There are likely to be variances between your organization due to the peculiarities of your location or the types of roles you’ve been filling. However, if your performance is completely out of touch with those averages, you should quickly look at three areas of your process to get a jump start on improvement.

Break down your hiring pipeline by stage. Generate reports that tell you how long each stage takes. If candidates are being sourced well but get hung up during the screening process, you might need to consider adding resources to that stage or evaluating priorities.

Break down the time to hire by role or department. If there’s a lag for a particular function or within a specific department, have a chat with the hiring manager to find out what’s going on. Make sure they understand the importance of making quick decisions in the hiring process.

Finally, take a look at the length of your interview process. How long does the process take? How many people are involved? What challenges exist around scheduling interviews?

Once you know your time to hire metrics, you can quickly take action to make rapid changes and then focus on continuous improvements to your process. Injecting efficiencies into your hiring process will send the right message to job candidates, and to your peers on the management team.

Don’t Let Sloppy HR Budgeting Kill Business Growth

For most businesses budgets aren’t suggestions or wish lists, they are real guidelines with an absolute upper limit on how much can be spent. On the other hand, even though nobody wants to go over budget, they also don’t want to be too far under budget. Being under budget by too much usually means that opportunities for growth or improvement have been missed. Missing such opportunities can make CEOs and lines of business execs crazy.

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Human resources budgets are notoriously inaccurate, through no fault of the HR team. HR budgets typically include annual headcount, however companies don’t accurately predict exactly when hiring will take place. Too many factors inside and outside of the organization impact hiring timing. Things take longer than planned, and in today’s tight labor market, the problem of underdelivering on hiring is only likely to get worse.

This is often exacerbated when companies underestimate the amount of employee attrition that will take place over the course of a year. Often, budgets are assigned to staff who don’t remain with the organization for the entire year.

Another issue injecting uncertainty into HR budgeting occurs when companies lose track of employees that are transferred from one business unit to another. When these different BU’s have different accounting systems, it takes way too long for budgets to keep up and resolve on the organizational level.

For these reasons, it’s common to pad HR budgets to ensure that workforce needs aren’t in jeopardy of being underfunded. Between the padding and poor timing, the likelihood of being close to reality diminishes.

All of this is made even worse by the fact that companies don’t have an accurate way to understand exactly what impact headcount has on cash and profits. Companies typically use averages based on backward-looking data (lagging indicators) to determine average commissions, average bonuses, average pay increases, average costs of benefits, etc. But since we do know that the past doesn’t necessarily match the future, HR managers add budget variances based on even less precise criteria.

Of course, healthy and conservative budgeting is not a bad thing. Every dollar saved does go straight to the bottom line. But companies don’t save their way to growth. For companies with a top line growth goal, knowing funds were available for new initiatives or accelerated marketing but were tied up as padding in the HR budget can make executives question the business savvy of their HR peers.

So what can HR executives do to gain credibility and trust with their peers, particularly those in the finance department who typically look after budgeting? Using advanced workforce planning tools, such as the PredictiveHR platform, will enable HR to gather critical HR data from across business units and use that data to develop predictive models. These models can be tested against past actual data, which will prove its accuracy to executives in finance, operations, and sales - increasing those executives’ trust in their HR colleagues.

With better numbers and more accurate timing, HR can fine tune their budgets – budgets that often represent the largest share of expenses for most organizations – freeing up capital for other mission critical initiatives inside the organization.

What is People Analytics?

For hundreds of years – possibly longer – organizations have made critical HR decisions based largely on instinct and intuition. Where should we find talent for our business? What’s the best way to attract those people? What kinds of benefits and perks should we offer to keep them? What kind of training and develop should we use, who should we offer it to, and what are the results? All of these critical questions, and many more, were often answered based on gut feelings and anecdotal experience.

Over the last couple of decades, human resources departments have increasingly accessed internal data and analyzed HR performance. It’s true that businesses should know how much they are spending on human resources and learning and development programs. We should also know what kind of value we’re delivering from that spend. This information is useful to gauge the performance of HR departments, and is interesting to senior HR managers and their managers. However, it doesn’t provide much value to sales, marketing, and operations managers.

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By definition, this information is comprised solely of lagging indicators. It tells us about the past – it offers no information for the future. The executive suite is highly interested in leading indicators – information that can help predict the future and help shape strategy.

Nowadays, organizations have access to troves of data surrounding the people they’ve hired and the performance they’ve delivered. We know where people are from, where they went to school, where they’ve worked in the past, and for how long. We know details about people’s work environments – what office they sit in and who manages them. We have information from exit interviews on why people have quit.

We also have tons of data on the performance of individuals and teams. Who are the organization’s top sales people? Where have there been the most operational failures? How does the performance of employees who have been trained differ from their colleagues who haven’t?

By accessing and analyzing all of this data, HR departments can both report on results, and help predict what should be done to improve performance – increase revenues, decrease costs, reduce the time to market, etc. People analytics enable HR departments to provide this critical information, thereby elevating the value of the entire HR function in the organization.

People analytics tools are increasingly being adopted to help human resources access and analyze both internal and external data and provide strategic insights to the executive suite. These tools combine multiple technologies like Big Data analytics and Artificial Intelligence to slice and dice data, and present real-time representations of the information that is most interesting to the organization.

For example, you can set up dashboards to better understand attrition, employee cost, and employee engagement by business unit or geography. You can generate up-to-the-minute reports to see patterns around operational outcomes (time to market, patient outcomes, etc.) and how management issues influenced results. Or you might better pinpoint sales training solutions and improve sales hiring quality based on analysis of sales performance by demographics, territory, and education.

You can also use People Analytics tools to protect your business from fraud or ensure regulatory compliance. By analyzing internal data, HR can find patterns of fraud, and ensure that hiring, training, and management practices can significantly reduce the initiation and impact of fraudulent activity. You can also analyze employee demographic and salary information to ensure that you comply with equal pay regulations.

Like contemporary CRM and Business Intelligence tools, many People Analytics tools have become simple to learn and use. Deploying such a tool enables HR departments to immediately provide strategically valuable information to the executive suite, and consistently roll-out additional value to the organization as executives come to rely on the HR function.

Using Workforce Planning to Deliver Competitive Advantage

In today’s tight labor market where matching talent and outcomes has become critical for achieving high levels of performance, an organization’s workforce is arguably its most important asset. Indeed, organizations routinely exclaim that their people are their most important asset. However, very few businesses carefully plan, measure, or optimize this all-important resource.

Too many organizations don’t know of the current workforce gaps that will limit their ability to execute against their business strategy. The main cause of this disconnect between the recognition of the value of the workforce and the management of this resource is a lack of agreed objectives regarding what the output of workforce planning should be and a lack of a workforce planning process that includes predictive workforce modeling.

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The main goal of workforce planning is to ensure that talent supply is equal to or greater than talent demand. If you want to execute your strategic plan, you need to have the right people in the right seats to deliver. So what outputs from workforce planning activities should the business expect?

 

Some benefits we want to achieve include:

  1. Knowing what headcount is required to execute the strategic plan, and specifically what talent will be required.
  2. Knowing what talent demand and supply issues currently exist in different areas of the organization (line of business, location, function, etc.).
  3. Knowing what impact management decisions and priorities will have on future workforce investments.
  4. Understanding what issues impact employee productivity.
  5. Determining the best metrics for understanding the risks concerning talent across the business.
  6. Providing accurate, real-time reports on workforce planning results.
  7. Creating a plan to be proactive, instead of reactive, when it comes to talent management.

Deploying a Workforce Analytics (people analytics) solution will enable you to gather and analyze data from across your organization to provide information for your workforce planning process. Using this information, you’ll be able to determine the real demand required by your strategic plan, understand what workforce supply already exists inside your organization, and design a forward-looking plan for bridging any gaps that might exist.

Understanding Demand

Typically, organizations task an individual or small “center of expertise” to look at the business’s plan and draw up workforce requirements for the different areas of the organization. The problem with working this way is that the future is uncertain. No matter what plan an organization has in place, the rate and extent of success or failure in different areas of the organization are somewhat unpredictable.  

For example, according to Peter Cappelli in his research on workforce planning, “The error rate in the U.S. on a one-year forecast of demand at the stock keeping unit (SKU) code or individual product level, for example, is over 30 percent.” 

There are two key components to avoiding this approach and the reactive stance it generates. The first step is to understand that workforce planning is a process, not a project with a “plan” as the outcome. Workforce planning is an ongoing process that takes the ever-changing state of the reality of the business into account and compares it to the strategic plan and expectations.

The second step is to implement technologies like People Analytics (such as the PreditiveHR platform) that provides users real-time and accurate information of the current state of the organization and provides predictive capabilities. Not only can analysis take place as part of a regular process, ad hoc analysis can provide critical information every time the state of the business changes due to internal or external circumstances.

Understanding Workforce Supply

In addition to understanding and predicting changing needs to your workforce requirements, you’ll need to keep abreast of your current workforce supply to meet those needs. Much like with planning, most organizations approach their future workforce supply stance by carrying forward historic trends when it comes to turnover, retirement, and internal job movement – and possibly take into account industry benchmarks.

Not only is this method inaccurate when it comes to total workforce supply, it doesn’t take the performance of individuals in the organization at all. That is, even if you’re lucky enough to have internal workforce supply to fill all of your seats, you may not have the right people to fill the jobs in terms of competencies and performance.

As with predicting demand, People Analytics tools should be used to bring predictability to both the number and makeup of your organization’s workforce supply. Good People Analytics tools take into account a wide variety of data and apply Artificial Intelligence to that data to conduct complex analysis incorporating demographics, organizational actions, workplace conditions, and much more to predict how groups, and individuals, may be impacted and the effect it will have on your internal workforce supply.

Action Planning

Once you know where there are likely to be gaps between your workforce demand and supply, you can create a framework for and ongoing workforce planning process. Since using People Analytics tools provide detailed and individualize intelligence, you can create a more detailed and targeted approach than the typical business.

Most organizations focus on general hiring, retention, and develop programs to bridge any perceived challenge they may face in the future. Organizations that enjoy the predictive analytics available in People Analytics tools can proactively target recruitment based on accurate career transition information, target development programs to specific areas or individuals who would most benefit, and fine tune pay strategy and bonus programs to enhance retention. Even promotions, transfers, and reorgs can be planned in advance to take advantage of your current supply – putting talented, capable, and engaged employees in roles that leverage their highest value.

Using the right tools, businesses can achieve advantage over their competition by better managing the most important resource in every organization – the workforce.