Modern businesses already leverage data to help improve efficiency and productivity, making faster and more effective decisions that drive better performance. As many organizations develop a path forward amid economic uncertainty and widespread layoffs, organizations—especially HR leaders—should lean on comprehensive data that showcases all aspects of the business, including talent.
Tasked with ensuring employee retention and achieving company goals with a reduced workforce, HR departments can use data to know their employees better and identify which employees’ skillsets best align with employer needs to upskill and reskill. This data set—human capital data—is often overlooked or ignored, yet it is tremendously valuable.
When leveraged correctly, this data can fundamentally shift how employees perceive the organization and their role within it. It can also help organizations better navigate massive momentum swings from the Great Resignation to current layoffs.
Data about our humans is rooted in the employee experience
We want to collect rich data about employee emotions, backgrounds, interests and preferences, skillsets, and more. It can be collected via employee surveys, 1:1 check-ins, company events, social gatherings, and resumes. It can also be collected at the back end of company processes through programs that show what projects they’re working on and how much time is spent on each.
Ultimately, human capital data comes from the employees, but it must be something they are comfortable sharing. Transparency from the organization that illustrates alignment of employee purpose with organization purpose will better foster employee engagement and buy-in, empowering them to want to stay invested. Given the personal nature of human capital data, organizations should treat it just like other confidential information—with extra security measures to protect it from outside threats.
Organizations can also stop playing guessing games and create solid and meaningful connections between employee interests and purpose. This alignment between employees and their organization can fundamentally shift how they perceive their employer and their role within the organization.
Making it personal
Thanks to remote and hybrid workplaces and video conference calls, we have learned more about our coworkers’ personal lives—families, hobbies, interests—through background décor, child and pet guest appearances, and a continued effort to weave in water cooler conversations from afar. Organizations must continue to foster an environment that uncovers employees’ authentic selves and leverages collected human capital data to connect individual passions to corporate-level purposes, going beyond the traditional employee resource groups (ERGs).
For example, at NTT DATA, we encourage our colleagues to share their passions. One person leads a remote yoga class nearly every Wednesday, and we have corporate Slack channels for foodies to share their favorite recipes and musicians and artists to share their creations. We also have an employee who is a published author who brings her passion to work in support of our social media and marketing teams, exercising her skills and sharing her passions beyond her consulting roles. Having employee interests documented helps ease a manager’s load.
Leveraging data to create talent superhighways
Beyond engagement, human data can create career paths and journeys that matter most to employees—both attracting them to the company and keeping them. The World Economic Forum estimates that more than 1 billion people will need to be reskilled by 2030, illustrating that skill-building at scale is not just good business, it’s essential.
To strategically invest in up-leveling employee skills, organizations need to develop talent superhighways or pathways that allow everyone to accelerate their learning, and therefore their career, at the pace and direction in which they want to go, bringing mobility across company divisions while boosting connection and personal growth for the employee.
Successful talent superhighways must provide core skill-building training through traditional and emerging methods and the time and support to bring the skills they’re learning to real-life applications. They should also provide two ways to source talent for upskilling and reskilling efforts:
- Data-driven on-ramping—informed by human capital data to identify those who have met prerequisite skills.
- Self-selected on-ramping—enabling those who yearn for development to volunteer and helping them learn to craft a path for their advancement.
Both methods of on-ramping ensure employees hungry for opportunities can keep their skills relevant in the marketplace while demonstrating organizational commitment to growing talent as a first solution, with outside hiring as secondary.
4 steps to align company and employee purpose
Sourcing and using human capital data and building talent superhighways is a journey—not something established overnight. However, most companies may be collecting this data without realizing it. Thanks to technological advances in cloud computing, AI, and more, the data sets companies can access in real-time have tremendously disrupted how we meet market demands and assist clients. We can and should also use this to align employee purpose with organizational purpose.
Start with the basics:
- Define what problem your organization is looking to solve. Whether to determine the organization’s talent mobility or what talent/skills will be needed for future efforts, starting with identifying the issues you’re tackling is best to develop a larger strategy.
- Implement the right technology and support team. HR technology is an under-appreciated tool that can capture the correct data for your dedicated team of analysts to extrapolate the data.
- Establish company and employee buy-in. Human capital data can make employees feel vulnerable, so leadership teams must teach them to trust the data and understand how it is collected and used.
- Evaluate current career pathways and career progression. Know your organization’s current paths and be open to changing them as human capital data begins to inform the new development of programs, like mentoring and skill certification programs.
Through these basics, organizations can open career possibilities for their employees—like the choose your own adventure books—while also connecting back to company goals. Organizations should invest in employees from hire to retire, nurturing and empowering them every step in between.
Kim Curley is vice president workforce readiness consulting at NTT DATA Services. As someone happiest when those around her are wildly successful, Kim has spent her career making business better for humans everywhere. Named an NTT DATA Game Changer for her dedication to client and team success, Kim is a founder of Women Inspire NTT DATA, the company’s first employee resource group, leading the group’s Steering Committee. She is a published author and sought-after industry speaker on people, organizations, and change topics. Outside of work, Kim is a National Parks nerd, book addict, world explorer, avid UGA fan, and she may be developing a yarn problem.