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Five Areas to Use Workforce Data to Drive Business Decisions

April 12, 2018

workforce dataWe were pleased to recently do a webinar for our partners at HealthStream. Ted Kinney, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development at Select International joined me for an interesting discussion about driving business outcomes with workforce data. Prior to leading our research and development efforts, Ted headed up our healthcare consulting team. So, he’s worked with some of the top health systems in the country. We work in all industries, though, so he brings experience from working with companies like Toyota, GE, Verizon, Dicks Sporting Good and even the United Nations. I’m happy when we get to use Ted for webinars and conferences because it’s always a fascinating conversation.

Here's a link to a recording of the webinar. I’d encourage you to give a listen – the feedback from attendees was outstanding. In the short term, though, here’s a quick summary:

Driving business decisions with workforce data is a pretty broad topic, so we decided to focus on five areas that our clients tell us are most important to them:

  • Front line managers: Taking accountability for talent

  • Employee engagement data and retention

  • Labor market data and your hiring process

  • Recruitment and candidate engagement

  • Limitations of Predictive analytics and human capital management

What is Workforce Data?

In its broadest sense, workforce data is any data that can be leveraged to provide strategic insights on people, and can be connected directly to business outcomes. Obviously, it can cover a wide range of data.

The other term you hear a lot these days is “workforce analytics.” This is a little more specific. This usually involves combining software, methodologies and statistical models to the data – to make predictions that can be used to optimize human resource management. This is also pretty broad and when people talk about workforce analytics, you need to clarify, what, exactly they are talking about.

Why is Workforce Data so Critical?

We’ve always had workforce data. We’ve always analyzed it and tried to use it to make solid business decisions, but why such a focus now? Well, like most situations, pressure of some sort forces organizations to look for new solutions. In an era of big data, you can imagine where these pressures lead.

The pressures are obvious – healthcare organizations are dealing with evolving care delivery and payment models. In the middle of all of this change, the labor market has shifted. Time-to-fill is increasing as it becomes harder to find qualified candidates. Accordingly, labor costs are increasing. Organizations are realizing that their workforce is a core strategic consideration.

Most organizations plan to use “big data” (whatever they believe that to mean) to solve the problem. But how? The good thing, from our point of view, though, is that this continues a trend of human resources and talent becoming less of an administrative task, and more of a tactical and strategic business objective.

Using Workforce Data

Healthcare leaders are recognizing the importance of talent-related analytics in managing recruitment, retention, turnover, and more. We can analyze and address bottlenecks in the hiring process, challenges finding and selecting the right people, identifying and developing leaders, and, generally, aligning talent with business strategies.

Think about all of the data and metrics we can apply and use, with regard to performance, training and development, employee engagement, your hiring system, retention and recruitment. What data do you have access to? What can you do with it? What metrics matter? How do you quantify ROI?

Hiring System Metrics

As an example: What are the metrics we use to understand and improve hiring system performance?

It depends on your goals, but we look at:

  • Time to fill 

  • The candidate experience

  • Turnover

  • Hiring manager satisfaction data

  • Does the process predict on-the-job performance?

  • Ultimately, are these processes supporting larger organizational goals – quality of care, the patient experience, and organizational culture?

Managers – Accountability for Talent

One of the thing we started to see in health systems 6-7 years ago was a shift away from the antiquated view that HR’s job was to send candidates to hiring managers who would choose who they liked. If it turned out to be a bad choice, the hiring manager looked to HR to send along the next batch of candidates. Similarly, it was HR’s job to train and develop the team.

Organizations are now asking their managers to take more accountability for their team – selecting and building it. While the expectations have changed, the tools we are providing them haven’t always kept up. Now, we have tools like NurseFit® to help managers understand the behavioral strengths and weaknesses of a nursing candidate. It provides the hiring manager insight into areas to probe during the interview and to focus on post-hire.

Engagement, Retention, and Labor Market Data

Ted covered these in great detail during the webinar and I’m going to save a summary of his points for a short, upcoming blog. (Stay tuned!)

Creating a Positive Candidate Experience

Given the labor market dynamics and shortage of candidates, it’s more important than ever that you not only get the information you need during the hiring process, but also provide a positive, engaging candidate experience. Some organizations completely fail to analyze and understand the candidate experience. We see organizations try to make changes to the hiring process based on anecdotal evidence. We can avoid that. We have the data. For instance, our hiring systems survey candidates and regularly report this information so that we can make informed decisions about creating the most efficient, effective, and candidate-friendly system

Predictive Analytics

This is another area that Ted covered in some detail and we’ll cover in a future blog. Suffice to say, now though, there was a warning that predictive analytics are not magic and not a magic bullet. The data can be powerful. To be effective, though, we need to recognize the workforce data is different, and healthcare is unique. This means that healthcare human capital management experts play a critical role in vetting predictive analytics approaches and outputs to ensure the data is used effectively. Be leery of the “predictive analytics” product that purports to solve all of your problems.

To learn more about using data to improve your hiring process, download our whitepaper:

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Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.