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Workforce analytics offers insights into performance

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In many industries, 40 percent of the workforce is currently eligible for retirement, and many companies are not prepared. They have not analyzed their expected needs or developed a strategy to fill the positions. Workforce analytics helps predict the categories in which workers will be needed, and combined with an HR solution for managing development better, will help the company respond to changes in its workforce.

Making sense of data

Recruitment and staff development are other areas in which analytics can help. Workforce analytics helps with recruiting by matching the personal qualities and experience of applicants with factors that are good predictors of job success in that position. Many companies have improved their selection and retention through sophisticated predictive analytics.

In employee development, similar analytics can be applied to optimize career paths. "Helping an employee move from being a store associate, for example, to a general manager can be a difficult process," explains Collins. "It means identifying the right experiences, whether that is training or some other action, and then delivering them." Analytics can provide correlations between those events and positive organizational outcomes.

SuccessFactors has built-in interpretive information that explains what the numbers mean. "We try to package as much knowledge as possible into the application," says Collins. "Rather than simply providing a set of statistics, we assist with interpretation and suggestions for other measures to look at, as well as suggested actions to take."

The actions taken should tie into a company's strategy. "Without a model and strategy, there is no way to make sense of the data," Collins adds. "Once an action is taken, the company should see if it had an impact on its key performance indicators (KPI). Did business get better or not?"

The workforce analytics market has room for growth and room for improvement. Gartner released its first Magic Quadrant report on talent management in 2012 and reported that only 25 percent of respondents were satisfied with the reporting and analytic functions in their products. Most are also not yet integrating talent management with their core HR information systems, according to a study conducted by Bersin & Associates (bersin.com), which limits their ability to leverage existing personnel data. But improved capabilities and predictions of a robust growth rate make this a market to watch.

Workforce analytics enhances agent performance

Contact centers provide a work environment in which workforce analytics are somewhat easier to obtain than in other settings. Not only are metrics such as time on the call or number of calls to resolution readily available, but also calls are recorded and the content generated by customers and agents can be analyzed. Firstsource Solutions is a business process management company that provides a variety of customer services, including contact centers, for companies intelecom, banking, healthcare, insurance and other industries.

To improve the customer experience, Firstsource began analyzing the text of conversations to assess agent behavior, with a goal of supporting continuous improvement using its proprietary offering called First Customer Intelligence (FCI). To power FCI, the company selected software from Verint Systems, which makes workforce optimization solutions.

"The text analytics in Verint's software lets us know who are the top agents in terms of customer satisfaction," says Aparajita Gupta, VP of service excellence for Firstsource. "We can then compare their behavior to that of other agents and discover the differences."

The next step is to use those insights to provide coaching for the agents who need it. "We have a strong coaching process in which supervisors explain how various issues should be handled," explains Gupta. "We also do a lot of impact analysis after the intervention, to see if the agent has improved." In addition to monitoring customer sentiment and agent dialog, Firstsource also has a BI tool that integrates quantitative information. "We are looking very specifically at outcomes to help the associates be more efficient," comments Gupta. In some cases, a needed change might be small but have a big impact. "In the spring, we had a lot of tax-related inquiries for a financial services company," Gupta says. "People were dropping off because they could not get answers. We used FCI to quickly find out what the agents were stuck on, and were able to provide information that allowed call length to drop from 500 seconds to 300 seconds, which is a huge increase in efficiency, and of course, the customers were much happier." 

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