Technology is changing how Human Resource officers manage key talent and improve employee satisfaction. As discussed in a recent webcast, “Key Insights and Recommended Actions from the Institute of Business Value CHRO Study,” HR officers can no longer afford to rely on gut instinct to keep employees engaged. Instead, we need to understand and use data and analytics to drive decision making.
I work in IBM’s HR department and have about 1,000 HR partners globally who work for me. Currently, I’m responsible for our Employee Relations and Engagement Program, and over the last five years I’ve witnessed a tremendous amount of change in this area. Here are six examples of how we now use social tools, big data and analytics to help keep our employees engaged and motivated:
Cultivate the one-on-450,000 reporting relationship. Two or three times a year, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty holds live interactive webcasts with IBM employees. While she’s speaking she uses an iPad Mini to review and respond to questions. She picks up somebody in Chennai or somebody in Bangalore, saying, “That's an interesting question. Let me talk to it.” She's responding in real time, as closely as possible, to individual questions.
Create a volatility map to understand better trends in employee behaviors. Volatile behaviors include raising grievances or legal cases, lack of engagement or productivity, unwanted attrition, excessive sickness/absences and social badmouthing. Our mathematicians map those five incidences of volatility to internal and external risk factors and create a graph that includes geographic location and the size of the workforce in each location. This helps us see where we have the right kind of numbers and quality HR partners, and where we could restructure based on skill sets and areas of growth.
Conduct an annual engagement survey and use text analytics on the responses. Last year we received 280,000 responses to our new 12-question engagement survey. For some of the questions we asked “do you like this a lot?” or “do you hate this?” We also tried something new and asked them to describe IBM using three words. We then used text analytics to look for common themes in the responses to each question, and we looked at responses across the entire organization, and then further broke out responses by organizational element. Then we gave 45,000 first-line managers a heat map representing combined responses from their teams, along with links to internal resources that provided hints and tips on solving any problems they saw.
Use sentiment analysis to discover what employees and others say about IBM. HR officers often wonder what their people say about their organization. We use sentiment analysis to monitor our internal and external communication feeds monthly. Reviewing internal channels helps us gauge what employees think about recent events or announcements, and it also helps us predict the engagement level of our top performers. Monitoring external channels tells us about our reputation as an employer and what prospective candidates are saying about us. We also take note of whether the sentiment is positive or negative (or changing from one to another). Sentiment analysis allows me to catch spikes in certain topics. For example, if four people in Chennai mention the word “harassment,” that will come to me as an unusual spike. What’s most exciting is that we’re linking the sentiment analysis we run monthly to our employee engagement data, so I can track whether engagement is up or down and understand potential drivers behind any change.
Take advantage of the IBM Expertise locator. Talent is essential to every organization. We created the IBM Expertise locator so that employees could easily discover who knows the most about certain topics—it allows IBMers to reach beyond their personal networks and access the collective knowledge of IBM. Just log in to the locator, search under a particular area of expertise, and employees can instantly find the colleagues who will most likely be able to help them. We can crowdsource internal expertise very efficiently.
Retain people without expensive “save” packages. Proactive retention relies on analytics to identify the segments of employees that we want to keep. After segmenting employees into small clusters, we compare their current pay to the market rate. If the market rate for their replacement is significantly higher than their current pay rate, then the system flags them up for a pay increase and recommends which increase we should give them.
These are just six examples of the more interesting approaches we’re currently using in HR at IBM these days.
To learn more about how organizations are going beyond gut instinct and using technology, analytics and behavioral science to manage and shape their workforce, listen to the replay of our recent webcast, “Key Insights and Recommended Actions from the Institute of Business Value CHRO Study.” You’ll hear Eric Lesser (Director, IBM Institute of Business Value), Maria-Paz Barrientos (Vice President and Partner, IBM Strategy & Analytics Global Team) and me discuss insights from our latest IBM Study in the area of human capital management, New expectations for a new era: CHRO insights from the Global C-suite Study. We’ll also focus on workforce challenges for HR in a customer-driven world and three actions HR can take with real-life examples.
Finally, I’d love to hear more about the tools your HR team uses to boost employee engagement and motivation. Feel free to share in the comments section below and be sure to join the IBM Smarter Workforce conversation on Twitter (@IBMSmtWorkforce), LinkedIn and Facebook.