If Talent is so valuable, shouldn't we measure It?

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Nick Shaw, consulting director at CEB’s SHL Talent Measurement Solutions, shares his view on the importance of measuring talent

What kinds of numbers portray a healthy business? Most people would suggest the data seen in public accounts, such as revenue growth, profit before tax or cash flow. More forward-thinking managers might add environmental measures to the list.

Virtually every corporate department is wired to ‘business intelligence’ software and dashboards that show performance and efficiency measures, which are used to make business decisions. So when corporate leaders talk about their people being the “most valuable asset”, why is there a blind spot with workforce metrics? And how can beneficial decisions about the direction of the company be made if talent is not considered and the relevant metrics absent?

Appetite For Talent Measurement But Minimal Use

Astonishingly, our recent Global Assessment Trends Report finds fewer than half of the organisations responding to the survey use talent data as a basis for making business decisions, or even use objective data to inform decisions about the workforce.

Often HR will tell you about cost-per-hire, staff turnover, even whether employees get their appraisals done on time. While operational measures are necessary indicators of how efficient processes are, it doesn’t tell you how effective your people are, the ROI on hiring and development programmes, or how your talent strategy is contributing to achieving business objectives.

And wouldn’t you like to know how your people compare to those that other organisations are attracting or hiring? Are you losing your best staff or candidates to your biggest rival?

The Value Of Talent Measurement

Psychometric assessment has been around for decades. Managers can measure people’s reasoning abilities, their skills, what motivates them, and how effective they will be in a given role and what potential they have for future responsibilities. Having a solid talent measurement approach assures that for every appointment, promotion or reorganisation, there is hard data to help inform decisions.

Progressive leaders are reorienting how they think about their employees’ contribution at both an individual and organisation level. By adopting a talent mindset, they know the people who can bolster a weak team, boost productivity, or have the potential to be a leader. And, for those who aren’t yet ready for those roles, they know what development is needed to get them there. With the powerful combination of people data and business metrics, these HR leaders can show a direct correlation between having the right people in the right place and higher revenues, bigger profits. Headline findings from our Business Outcomes Study provide tangible proof of the link between effective use of talent measurement and improved business results.

Ultimately this kind of talent insight provides a real-time view on the effectiveness, potential and readiness of a company’s workforce. Not just to improve day-to-day talent management but to enable HR to accurately predict how well equipped their workforce is to respond and adapt to changing strategic priorities – and likelihood of delivering success and results.

Whether a company is focused on achieving growth, operational excellence, fostering innovation, or transforming sales behaviours, organisations should report on talent as they would any other corporate asset. And be able to demonstrate a clear return to the business for every pound invested in people. In order to succeed, one thing is certain: a firm needs the right talent in place, and those people must be ready to perform.

CEB is the leading member-based advisory company, equipping senior leaders and their teams with the insight and actionable solutions to transform business operations. CEB’s SHL Talent Measurement Solutions, part of its Integrated Talent Management Services, help organisations assess, select, and develop the right people for the right roles using science-based assessments, benchmark data, technologies, and consultancy services.


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