Monthly Archives: April 2013

How ‘Big Data’ is Helping Employers Make Better Staffing Management Decisions

Ever wonder what happens with all that information that we’re entering into those web browsers, online shopping carts, credit card swipers and smartphone GPS devices? Not to mention our driver’s licenses, facebook profiles, and travel itineraries? Although many people worry that such data collection may erode individual privacy, there are also many others who worry that we aren’t collecting enough of it — or making good use of it. To that end, seemingly overnight, a new industry has arisen to aggregate this massive quantity of data, strip it of personal identifiers, analyze it, and use it to help organizations make better workforce management decisions. It’s being called “big data,” and, today, it’s everywhere.

Want to know how consumers feel about your new headache remedy? Perhaps there’s some clue in the millions of tweets that went out over the last six weeks. Or maybe there’s a revealing insight into consumer behavior concerning brands that have been purchased alongside of yours. Or where they were purchased. Or at what time of day. Statisticians who are experienced with analyzing large scale data can sort out the correlations that are meaningful from those that are merely noise.

While Big Data projects often involve collection of external data, they can also involve analyzing internal data that your organization has been collecting for years. Human Resources managers are starting to discover the benefits of big data analysis. Staffing managers are moving toward methodical data analysis— looking at workforce management data, such as attrition rates, and analyzing it for useful insights on sourcing and hiring strategy.

Big Data’s potential for successfully sourcing talent was highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, Meet the New Boss: Big Data. Workforce staffing managers at a large call center operation had relied on instinct and anecdotal evidence to make hires; they looked for candidates who had held similar jobs in the past. However, the ‘big data’ analysis of their internal human resources records showed that the strongest correlation for a successful hire was personality, not past experience. With almost 50,000 call center employees, this company had enough internal data to draw reliable conclusions, though the providers of big data services are careful to caution employers about the pitfalls of casual or inexperienced analysis in workforce decision-making.

With its reliance on statistics and standardized testing, many are concerned about bias that can skew against groups or classes of workers, or weed out those quirky, high-performers who may not meet the scoring threshold.

Regardless of the possible downfalls, it looks like Big Data is here to stay, in consumer sales, in business-to-business marketing, and in staffing, too. With employers looking to streamline operations and make better hires who will stay for the long haul, the lure is irresistible.

Who are the big players in Big Data? Among others: IBM, Kenexa and Oracle.

Date posted: April 24, 2013 in workforce management | big data | hiring | hr | staffing management | talent acquisition |

Five Workforce Management Tips for a Successful Internship Program

Summer — it’s prime season for student internships in many industries, from finance to legal to business services.

While some employers may view internships as an efficient way to hire temporary staff and catch up on clerical work, seasoned workforce management professionals know that interns can do so much more.

How to Turn Interns into “Real” Workers:

  1. Cast a Wide Net
    Interview as many candidates as you can. Post your internships on university job boards and attend job fairs at nearby schools to let students know what you’re looking for in an intern and what opportunities you’re offering. Reach out to professors or department heads to find out if they have students who might be a good fit for your company. But exercise good sense when recruiting interns, too. Don’t recruit for public relations interns at an engineering school. You get the idea.
  2. Pay Them What They’re Worth
    Unpaid internships may sound like a good idea, But… meeting the legal requirements for unpaid interns is tough. Check with a local employment attorney or government office  to find out the regulations that apply in your state, county or municipality.  It is likely that if you’re benefiting in any way from your interns’ work, you’ll need to pay them at least minimum wage — and, realistically, you’ll probably want to go beyond that. The compensation you offer will vary with demand for the position. For example, to attract an IT or finance intern whose skills may be in demand, it may be appropriate to pay them what you would pay an entry level full-time hire. One of the more common challenges with interns is attendance and promptness; not surprisingly, adequate compensation correlates strongly with attendance.
  3. Provide Meaningful Training and Work
    Use interns for more than routine clerical tasks. Provide training in the real functions of your business, just as you would for full-time employees. Most interns understand — and you should spell it out during the interview — that there will be a certain amount of administrative work in their job description. But if that’s all there is, both you and they will miss an opportunity. Ensure that interns work on projects that are fun, challenging, and align with a business objective — something they’ll be proud to list on a resume or in a portfolio. Expose interns to some of the best performers in your company, shadowing or being mentored by a top performer can be invaluable.
  4. Be Patient
    It can be challenging to manage young staffers who in many cases have never had a “real” job. You’ll have to be clear about many workplace rules, even those that for more seasoned workers would go without saying. You’ll also have to be detailed about your expectations for your interns’ work and explain how they will be evaluated. You’ll want to show them how their output is used within your organization and why their contributions matter. On the flip side, you’ll need to be aware that a college intern’s goals and values may not be the same as those of your more experienced staff. And keep an eye out for things that they’re good at — which your more seasoned workers may not be so familiar with (social media, anyone?) Check out this interesting article from Forbes on working with “millennials” (born between 1980 and 2000). Live up to your end of the bargain, and see that your interns live up to theirs!
  5. Keep the Long Game in Mind
    Interns are more than just contingent staff that disappears at the end of the season. What’s more satisfying than having that sophomore-year student return for a junior-year internship and get hired after senior year? Not much! Now you’ve got an “entry level” hire with years of experience in your organization. If you were a patient trainer and coach, your workforce management decisions paid off. Plus, you’ve also hired someone who’s been spreading the good word about your company among fellow students and in the community.

Bottom line: recruiting, training and managing interns isn’t that different from how you recruit, train and manage your regular workforce. It may take a little more time, but it can definitely be a staffing decision that pays off.

Looking to enhance every aspect of your recruiting, hiring and staffing processes, including internships? Consider a managed service provider.

Date posted: April 23, 2013 in contingent staffing | workforce management | hiring interns | interns | internship | staffing management |

Workforce Management Systems – News and Updates

Stay Staffed web-based management software facilitates cost savings, staff retention and morale for employers of all types and sizes. Our Vendor Staffing Management (VSM) staffing solutions require no investment in hardware or software and have proven effective in increasing productivity and reducing operational expense.

Date posted: April 18, 2013 in vendor management systems | workforce management |