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Micah Fairchild The HR Technology Conference: Research Reports and Surveys

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 By Micah Fairchild

HR Tech 2012’s Surveys Provide Workforce, Technology Insights

In this, our second installment of coverage on the 15th HR Technology Conference, our focus turns to the announcements that took place concerning the research studies that were released. Specifically, our coverage here will detail the findings of CedarCrestone’s 2012-2013 HR Systems Survey, the Third Annual Workforce Management Trends Survey, and SHL’s 2012 Talent Report.

HR Tech Survey #1: CedarCrestone’s 2012-2013 HR Systems

Based on responses from 21M+ employees representing over 1200 organizations, these surveys have been an industry standard since the company’s start in 1983. This year’s CedarCrestone research highlighted where exactly HR technology spending is heading; what practices companies should be adopting to optimize that spending; and which benchmarks from the 50 top performing companies should be focused on.

As far as HR technology spending direction goes, 40+% of the survey’s respondents indicated projected increases for the upcoming year; with analytics, social, and service delivery applications netting the highest expected growth during this period (142%, 81%, and 57% respectively). Best practice wise, the survey revealed that: a) adoption of the full suite of workforce management applications delivers administrative savings and cost reductions resulting in 33% higher operating income growth; b) organizations with business intelligence (BI) that integrates workforce and other organizational data outperform those without such integration by 12%; c) early adopters of social-enabled processes show a link to 8% higher revenue per employee; and d) an Integrated Talent Management (ITM) solution continues as the direction linked to highest financial performance (with 50% lower BI costs).

Finally, with regard to benchmarking against the 50 top performing companies, CedarCrestone’s survey uncovered that 7 broad practices being implemented by these businesses.

  • Move to standardized processes and sophisticated change management practices (change management remains the game-changing approach to ensure successful implementations and optimized value from nearly all HR technologies);
  • Deploy a Software as a Service (SaaS) Human Resources Management System (HRMS) or plan a move to a new SaaS HRMS;
  • Avoid extensive software customization to your HRMS;
  • Enable higher user adoption of employee and manager self-service + shared services;
  • Adopt Integrated Talent Management (ITM) with your HRMS solution;
  • Move to more sophisticated business intelligence (BI) and support more managers with these tools; and
  • Adopt more HR technologies and expect to spend less on HR technology per employee with integrated solutions.

HR Tech Survey #2: Workforce Management Trends

WorkForce Software's third annual Workforce Management Trend Survey was conducted in conjunction with the Workforce Management publication; and has been since its inception a source of incredible information focused on the three core areas of employee absence/leave management, workforce management software and services, and employee fatigue management. Of note, this year’s research unearthed the finding that 49% of all the survey’s respondents (800+ organizations) use a mix of manual, in-house, and vendor-developed systems; with fully 47% citing that they still encountered “too much manual work”. And while that statistic was seen as the single largest shortcoming of companies’ workforce management software solutions, an equally alarming issue was discovered that 60% of businesses surveyed “still lack the ability to connect the dots between labor activities and financial outcomes”.

Also covered in this latest Workforce Management research was the finding that respondents found the biggest challenges regarding leave management to be intermittent leave; employees "abusing" the system; and managers and employees informing HR of leave at the last minute (55%, 50%, and 46% respectively). Further, an ongoing issue that remains relatively unanswered by businesses and solution providers alike is the problem that keeps happening with regard to errors in granting leave in the first place. While these figures are nothing new for those involved with the leave administration function, what was truly striking was the fact that only 22% of these companies indicated that they have a solid understanding of how much leave is issued in error.

Overall, these issues (partnered with the survey’s extensive research on fatigue management), highlight the very real concerns that organizations under the workforce management umbrella are facing; and as WorkForce Software’s Marc Moschetto puts it, “underscore the extensive demands placed upon HR professionals and the increasingly strategic role workforce management plays within the day-to-day operations of a business”.

HR Tech Survey #3: SHL’s Talent Report

The first research report released after SHL’s acquisition by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), the Talent Report, is by far the most comprehensive insight into the global workforce that has been released to date. Taking information from their Talent Analytics database, SHL was able to extract and analyze data on 4M candidate and employee assessments (from 205 geographic locales) to arrive at the talent pool findings that were released. And while undeniably macro in its scope, the fact remains that, as SHL’s CEO David Leigh framed it, “Employers are grappling with unpredictable global economic forces and rapid technological change…[and] …to continue to thrive they need a steady supply of qualified, skillful, and highly motivated workers”. At a high level, the Talent Report provides just that—highlighting the countries with the best (or greatest volume of) expertise in specific geographical and functional areas. What’s truly impressive about this research though, is that SHL digs into the data even further to examine the opportunities and challenges (including indices for leadership potential, gender disparities, and skill gaps) in developing that future talent.

While we can’t cover everything that was released in the survey, some of the more interesting findings to us included the assessments that: a) Mexico, Turkey and Egypt have the greatest source of potential future leaders; b) Hong Kong, Germany, and the UK face a leadership talent time-bomb; c) Eastern Europe is #1 in providing the most (and best) IT talent (compared with the United States’ rank of #23); and d) only 5.8% of the global population has the potential to be a true innovator.

HR Technology Conference Part 2 Wrap-up

The surveys and research above have come to be an integral part of not only the HR Technology Conference agenda, but also the work of HR practitioners, analysts, and pundits globally. By focusing on this type of empirical data, organizations have the chance to vicariously learn what is working and what isn’t for businesses all over the world; often without having to endure all the hardships that come from those lessons learned. And while benchmarking can be a tricky science given its lagging nature as a measure, the fact remains that these surveys often provide the only quantitative way of analyzing how your company is doing compared with others. This research also informs what we do here at and gives us unique insight into the issues that are concerning you. And what could be better than having information that is important to your company playing a part in the reporting you read? End

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This year’s CedarCrestone research highlighted where exactly HR technology spending is heading; what practices companies should be adopting to optimize that spending; and which benchmarks from the 50 top performing companies should be focused on.


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