Is counting smiles an indicator of productivity?

by John Hilton07 Mar 2017
There is no magic set of metrics that an organisation should settle on to help them make decisions, according to Aaron McEwan, HR advisory leader at CEB.

Instead, it is incredibly dependent upon what your organisational strategy is.

“The best organisations very carefully choose what sets of data they are going to collect that will help them make decisions about that future direction,” he told HC.

McEwan said CEB have tracked in excess of 500 different talent metrics that organisations use and one of the things that’s come up very strongly over the last ten years is engagement.

“CEOs are obviously interested in engagement data because there’s a link between engagement and performance,” he said.

The problem is that the traditional ways of collecting that data, once a year, maybe twice a year, tends to provide a lot of lagging data not leading data.

“We are looking for more real-time or leading indicators of engagement to organisations and there are a million different ways you can go about doing this,” he said.

“On the wild west side, we are seeing the amount of times people smile in the workforce as a somewhat leading indicator of engagement and therefore productivity.”

McEwan added that organisations are using wearable technology and ubiquitous sensing to collect data in real time about where people are at, who are they connecting with, how productive are they, whether they are operating in a safe way and things like that.

“There are so many different ways that organisations are focused on this but there is nothing we would point to as the right way,” he said.

“The most significant thing is that you are applying the data sets to the most important business priorities.”

McEwan added that organisations who are able to collect accurate data in real time that provide leading indicators rather than lagging indicators are much more able to adjust quickly and shift direction when there are massive changes either internally or externally.

“When we talk to CEOs they see talent as the number one threat to their growth strategies,” he said.

“CEOs are now increasingly aware that their growth is threatened by not having the right talent or not having the right talent in the right positions. Do they have the capability? Do they have the right characteristics and aspirations to drive the organisational culture forward?

“So having accurate data about those things actually gives CEOs a much clearer picture of what they need to do to drive their organisations forward.”

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