How to Shift Your HR Team Into a People Operations Team

November 21, 2014 Zuman

You can’t gamble with your employees. To retain the best hires, you need to have a people operations focus across the business. This means understanding exactly what drives your talent in order to retain them. Many high-tech companies are shifting to this approach, especially because these businesses are going after the same hires. Google is the most notable example.

Learning From Google’s Example
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that Google, ruler of the search engine, email and cloud-hosted documents, is obsessed with data. A few years ago when the tech giant noticed women were leaving the company en masse, it decided to do something about it. The tech industry tends to have more men than women, but this wasn’t a gender equity problem. It was disrupting the bottom line, according to Slate. Because competition is fierce for hiring employees with such advanced skills, the market is tight. Having to recruit replacements is time-consuming and costly.

Google’s obsession with data doesn’t end with creating the best user experience for its users. The company mines for employee data to ensure people are happy. Google already offers some of the best perks to its employees, but the issue turned out to be women weren’t getting enough maternity leave. So Google changed its policy and became the No. 1 employer to work for on Fortune magazine’s list. It has maintained that status for four years. Microsoft was No. 75, and Apple, Facebook and Amazon weren’t in the top 100.

Ultimately, companies that prioritize people operations realize their employees are their customers. You wouldn’t take a haphazard approach to customer satisfaction and long-term retention. Employees need to get as much consideration as customers to keep the company moving forward.

It All Comes Down to Data
Google uses its extensive data to guide personnel decisions. Big data changes all the time, and the company can continuously use it to improve performance and get the best hires. This is needed to continue innovating  and remain an industry leader, The Atlantic said. The company tests relentlessly. If it can test dozens of colors to find one that optimized click-thru rates in its tool bar, it can apply the same approach to its people.

“We need to be able to measure, to find out what does and doesn’t work at Google rather than just adopt best practices,” said Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of People Operations at Google, according to the article.

Google makes all of its employee decisions based on data and thorough scientific testing. Managers at Google wanted a better way to be sure they were making the right decision in complicated matters. The company has found this data-driven approach is far more effective than guesswork. The people operation team’s analytics have improved everything from interview questions to manager training. It’s time to implement a data-driven strategy for HR.

The Need for HR to Become More Scientific
In many high-growth companies, HR is still mired in antiquated processes, and it can prevent executives from making real progress. If HR employees are stuck with conventional notions of best practices and juggling multiple systems, it’s easy to overlook new ways to innovate. Even though HR is responsible for employee hiring, engagement and development, many departments lack the hard data that could enable a true people operations approach. It’s nearly impossible to create benchmarks for improvement when managers do not have a great idea of where things currently stand.

Even though big data seems intimidating, it can unify different departments when they use the same set of metrics. There is less room for guessing. One of the biggest issues in companies that don’t practice people operations is bridging the gap when each team is using its own software platform.

People operations is about more than just hiring the right employees. Without the exact data, it’s difficult for managers to find out what motivates their top performers. Is it more money? More time off? More opportunities for advancement? If managers don’t know what their employees need, they may offer the wrong benefits and risk losing their best employees. Problems with employee retention can prevent your business from achieving scalable growth. Your best workers have other choices, and any gaps in their experience with your organization could cause them to look elsewhere.

How can you shift your HR team to incorporate a people operations mindset? Not only does it start with a partnership between HR and the other key decision-makers, but you also need to have the right technology and data visibility to break down those barriers. A complete HR platform can kick off this process and ensure multiple departments are all on the same page.

About the Author

Zuman

Zuman is the premium solution for HR, payroll, benefits administration delivering superior control, lower risk, and enhanced employee engagement for growing companies.

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