Scott Keitlen, Director of Partner Channel Sales
I see a lot of my clients and prospects undergoing some amazing transformation in their human resources teams. Teams that were once cost centers are taking center stage in managing their companies biggest and most important costs – people and benefits. Teams that were once highly administrative are now highly strategic. Teams that were once process and paper driven are now drivers of new technology that’s used across the whole organization. I’m particularly impressed when I see these teams marrying HR data with great talent to redefine business problems and improve performance.
And as I’ve watched HR teams foster all this change, especially bringing in new technology and using HR data differently, I always want to start talking sports. I know, I’m a cliché – the sales guy who loves to talk sports analogies, but we’re talking big money at stake, big needs for performance, lots of data, and new ways of doing things. Is there really any better comparison?
Think about this. Gallup just put out a report that estimates crappy managers cost employers $450-$550 billion per year. And Gartner estimates disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy as much as $350 billion per year in lost productivity, accidents, theft, and turnover.
The Gallup report continued to explain how that huge business loss affected employee potential:
“Currently, 30% of the U.S. workforce is engaged in their work, and the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is roughly 2-to-1, meaning that the vast majority of U.S. workers (70%) are not reaching their full potential — a problem that has significant implications for the economy and the individual performance of American companies.”
The two are connected – good managers and employee performance – and it reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in the movie Moneyball. It comes at the very end when Brad Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, talks to Arliss Howard’s character, Red Sox owner John Henry, about a job. And Henry says, “You won the exact same number of games the Yankees won, but the Yankees spent $1.4 million per win and you spent $260,000.”
Howard’s delivery of the line is far more inspirational though, watch it for yourself:
Billy Beane Gets a New Job Offer
In that moment, Howard crystallizes the remarkable impact of a remarkable manager. Players and business excelled in the Beane model, but it never would have happened if someone didn’t lead the way to looking at things differently. Beane was also willing to let methodology, technology and data replace human bias and the “expected” way of doing things.
When I look at the hundreds of billions of dollars in loss and the impact of low performing employees, I can’t help but think most businesses, even the most successful ones, are operating more like the Yankees (sorry, I’m an Indians fan). Rather than redefining a problem – as Jonah Hill’s character does when he aptly points out that most teams focus on buying players over wins – most businesses are focused on throwing money at it.
But that’s why I’m always impressed with my clients who are acting as the game changer in their organization. They seem to understand the need to do things differently, to look at the data and the performance indicators and see the individual differently (I love the scene where Beane puts a catcher on first base because he sees value where no one had before).
The reason Moneyball worked was because there’s no sport with more data than baseball. Teams know exactly how many times a player gets on base, how many times a player hits a home run, how many times he strikes out, walks, is up to bat, games played. The performance indicators run broad and deep.
HR is approaching that same pivotal moment. HR data is rich and complex, yet we know so much about which metrics matter. We know which metrics indicate employee engagement – turnover, satisfaction, attendance and absenteeism, performance reviews are just a few. We’ve been measuring them forever. Until recently, HR spent virtually all their time moving and managing this data from one system to the next. But today, it’s possible to actually analyze HR data because technology reducing the burden of administration.
Instead of transferring time and attendance data from a devise to excel and then to payroll, they can spend time triaging who is having attendance issues and determine why and how to help.
Instead of aggregating emails for 360 reviews for hundreds of people from multiple peers and managers into one place, they can look at the qualities of the best managers and most productive teams and how to identify that type of talent for new roles.
Instead of personally entering data changes across insurance carriers, payroll, tax forms, and dozens of other systems or silos, they can enable employees to do it themselves and focus more on the benefits package, culture and policies that attract better talent.
Smart HR is playing Moneyball style. Better manage the data. Redefine the problem. Improve performance. Win more.