“Big Data, Better Workforce”
From 2011-2014, Daniel Honan was the Managing Editor at Big Think. Prior to Big Think, Daniel was Vice President of Production for Plum TV, a niche cable network he helped launch in 2002. The production team he oversaw won over two dozen Emmy awards. Daniel has created numerous shows and documentaries for television, and his film credits include Stealing the Fire, a documentary on the black market for nuclear weapons technology.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielHonan
What's the Big Idea?
Unless you are a government or a major monopoly there are very few markets your company can control. Human capital is a notable exception. And yet, even though workforce expenditures tend to be the largest investments that a company makes, this is an area that many executives know the least about. Haig Nalbantian, author of the book Play Your Strengths: Managing Your Internal Labor Markets for Lasting Competitive Advantage and a senior partner at Mercer, calls this a 'blind spot.'
Nalbantian is a data evangelist who argues that companies need to develop fact-based estimates of their return on investment. "The new science of human capital management puts in place the methods to do just this," he says.
Watch the video here:
What's the Big Idea?
Human capital management is a 'new science' in the sense that until recently people who studied human capital simply didn't have access to the right tools. That has all changed now. Not only do companies have access to data, they are much more savvy about the way they use it.
Just look at sports. As Nalbantian points out, sabermetrics was "a little small cadre of people doing it 20 years ago. Now it’s the norm." What does that mean? It used to be that baseball scouts would use extremely subjective judgments to evaluate talent. As Michael Lewis recounted in Moneyball, old school scouts in the Oakland Athletics organization recommended the team not draft a player because his girlfriend was deemed unattractive. “Ugly girlfriend means no confidence.”
When another scout remarked that one prospect had "a soft body," he was overruled by data. "I repeat: we're not selling jeans here," said A's General Manager Billy Beane. The change that sabermetrics introduced to baseball was that teams would use actual data, not intuition about a player's intangibles, to predict future success at the Major League level.
The implications for this go well beyond baseball, of course. As Nalbantian argues, no business can leave talent decisions simply to gut. Thankfully, the improvement in workplace analytics over the last five years can help companies make fact-based decisions.
With this key tool, Nalbantian says "there is no reason all business leaders should not understand thoroughly how their internal labor markets work, and whether they’re working in the right way, or whether they need to be changed."
About “Inside Employers’ Minds”
“Inside Employers’ Minds: Confronting Critical Workforce Challenges” features a dedicated website (www.mercer.com/insideemployersminds) which contains a number of resources focused on addressing each key issue.
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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