Think back to the best summer of your childhood. Perhaps it was spent at overnight camp, where you explored the lake, learned to waterski, and (finally) stepped out of your comfort zone and conquered your fear of the diving board.
All our fondly remembered childhood summers all have one thing in common: We were constantly learning, discovering, growing. And, unlike at school, we were doing it completely on our own terms. So when did we forget that adults need summer to break out of the box, try something new and cultivate our own development too?
Step out of your HR comfort zone and dive into your talent metrics
We're more than halfway through the year, so summer is a great time to step out of your comfort zone as an HR professional. While HR still has a lingering reputation for its "soft" people skills – and being slow to enter the metrics and analytics arena – those days are ending faster than summer vacation does for a 12-year-old. HR is evolving into a data-driven function where the key to engaging the C-suite as a strategic business partner is proving the business impact of its talent initiatives.
The end of summer is the perfect time to dive right in and rethink how you assess, analyze and report on the progress and impact of your talent programs. After all, there is truth to the old adage: "What gets measured, gets managed."
With that in mind, here are three tips to help you show the impact of your talent programs so that you can build executive buy-in for – and ongoing investment in – your proposed talent initiatives:
1. Focus on the metrics that matter
First, you want to understand the impact your learning and development (L&D) and ongoing performance and coaching initiatives are having on your employees. What you track and analyze depends on your company priorities, so employee goals need to be aligned to organizational goals. And by delivering the right learning content and activities at the point of need, employee experiences become personalized to help them overcome their specific challenges and develop in key areas that move the needle on business outcomes.
While improved talent management has repeatedly been shown to drive better business performance, many executives still view HR as a cost center because it can be difficult to measure the success of talent programs in terms of fiscal impact. But it's progressively becoming easier with the help of technology, allowing HR and talent leaders to finally make the critical connection between talent programs and business outcomes.
Leveraging a talent development platform with comprehensive HR analytics can provide organizations with full visibility into their talent management processes and enable informed, data-driven decision-making.
Traditional HR metrics like employee satisfaction and engagement, while useful in specific applications, have a limited impact because they don't often resonate with senior leadership. These metrics are actually the outcomes of the employee experience.
By instead focusing on the metrics that matter most to the business – and demonstrating the financial impact of your talent initiatives – you can speak the language of the C-suite, build a thriving talent development program that will drive the business forward, and pave the way for HR to take on a more strategic role.
2. Connect learning to business performance
Once you've identified the metrics that will move the business forward, you need to make the connection between the activities and the outcomes. Research by IDC and OpenSesame shows that when high-performing companies connect learning to business performance, they experience:
- 38 percent improved employee productivity
- 30 percent higher employee retention
- 21 percent increase in employee engagement
And it makes sense: After all, if learning isn't moving the needle on performance, what's the point?
By thinking in terms of business outcomes and focusing your L&D programs on specific behaviors, skills or competencies, you can solidify the connection between learning and performance to achieve the results that will get the C-suite to take notice. And, to do just that, you need the right tools to complement the right strategy.
With a talent development platform that connects learning to performance, you can more easily align learning to individual, team and business goals. By creating a hyper-connected talent experience that links learning activities to performance outcomes, you can also prove the business impact of your learning programs to justify continued and expanded investment.
3. Pitch your business case like you're the CFO
Engaging and aligning key stakeholders around your talent management vision can mean the difference between a winning proposal and a losing one. Using relevant metrics that align with key business objectives is critical to getting the green light for your proposed talent management systems and processes.
Think critically about how your programs can drive better business outcomes. Bridging the CHRO-CRO divide means both HR and finance teams need to learn what metrics matter most to their colleagues. You might be surprised with what you discover: Even initiatives that support soft skills can have a measurable business impact.
For example, improving employee satisfaction leads to fewer customer complaints, which tends to result in higher customer satisfaction. This can be measured through NPS scores, upsell rates and client retention, all of which can directly impact revenue. Crunch those numbers and collaborate with your partners in the finance
Once you've analyzed the data, you can present your findings to the C-Suite, keeping them informed on your team's progress, confidently explaining why and how those initiatives support positive business outcomes.
You can successfully pitch a talent management investment to everyone by learning what matters most to each of these key stakeholders and then tailoring your presentation to focus on what your audience cares about most.
Take the plunge: Make technology work for you to prove HR's business impact
There's nothing worse than standing on the edge of the diving board, swimsuit on, goggles tightened, swim lessons passed with flying colors... and then just dipping your toe in the water and calling it a day. It didn't work well at summer camp, and it won't work for your business now or in the future.
With digital disruption causing huge shifts in business landscape, organizations are increasingly turning to human capital as a source of competitive advantage. In fact, a staggering 97 percent of CEOs say that talent is the most critical factor for business growth. And yet – even though executives say their people are their organization's most valuable asset – when it comes to taking that leap of (quantified and qualified) faith off the diving board, there's still some hesitation when it comes to investing in great talent programs.
It's time to take the (well-calculated) plunge. To overcome this hesitation and make a clear, compelling business case for investing in talent management systems and processes, HR needs to get comfortable using data and analytics to demonstrate the business impact of their talent development programs. Using the deep performance and program insights offered by a hyper-connected talent development platform, HR and talent leaders can connect people development to business success to bridge the gap between HR and the C-suite.
In today's complex talent management technology landscape, however, it can be tough to evaluate and compare different platforms. That's why it helps to know what your industry colleagues are saying about potential vendors and their solutions – and why. In this report from Gartner, find out what other talent leaders are saying about Saba – and why we were named a December 2018 Gartner Peer Insights Customers' Choice Vendor for Talent Management Suites.*
Gartner Peer Insights 'Voice of the Customer': Talent Management Suites, December 2018. Gartner Peer Insights Customers' Choice constitute the subjective opinions of individual end-user reviews, ratings, and data applied against a documented methodology; they neither represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Gartner or its affiliates.