Going from Reactive to Proactive

Chirag Padalia, Director of Workforce Strategy, and Analytics, Aurora Healthcare

Chirag Padalia, Director of Workforce Strategy, and Analytics, Aurora Healthcare

With recent evolution in the landscape of HR technology, there has been an increase in the number of organizations leveraging data and utilizing it to derive insights that drive their decision-making process. More and more organizations are exhibiting maturity in workforce analytics. This data-driven perspective leads to a significant shift in the role of HR, transforming their function from tactical to strategic, where the aim is to predict the consequence of a particular action before executing it. Evidently, this tectonic shift is contributing to differentiate between ‘knowing’ and ‘thinking’—making decisions based on data that carefully separates ‘what we know’ from ‘what we think.’ The torrent of HR analytics, thus, has been key linking workforce analytics and planning to the bottom line, regardless of the industry.

In my current role at Aurora Health Care, I have been responsible to develop and deploy a workforce strategy and analytics framework. My Workforce Strategy and Analytics team is responsible for not only the descriptive and operational reporting but also the predictive analytics framework to generate actionable insights to influence and drive business decision making. Besides generating descriptive reports and dashboards on several aspects such as turnover, we also partner with the HR Business Partners, Finance and Operational leaders to strategize the workforce planning. The foundation of this is built on a unified data model that collates data from various internal and external sources including the HCM but not restricted to exclusively HR data. All of the workforce data is extracted from the HCM along with the data from the applicant tracking system, payroll, learning and development system, operational data such as patient volumes; even the external data such as the employee engagement survey and patient experience. The consequence of a unified data model is the ability to connect the dots to view the workforce from a futuristic perspective and also to map the business and operational outcomes to the relevant workforce data.

"Leveraging data analytics has become a cornerstone to our HR function’s transformation from tactical to evolving into true Business Partners"

With the robust datamart model in place, we are leveraging advanced analytics to generate staffing capacity forecasts to better understand and quantify gaps in our key job functions such as nursing. The models lend insights into workforce gaps in future at a department and job function level–allowing our HR Business Partners and Talent Acquisition to proactively partner with Operations to devise strategies to ensure appropriate levels of staffing are maintained. For instance, if there is an approaching retirement, rather than waiting for the event of retirement, the organization can plan accordingly, so they do not squander time in the recruitment and training process. In addition to the mid to long term workforce planning, we are also leveraging analytics to understand fluctuations in patient volumes across all of our sites to devise a variable staffing plan—this allows us to proactively plan for core staff to be supplemented by contingency staff as demand fluctuates. The variable staffing plan ensures the most appropriate staffing levels at all times while delivering on cost effectiveness. The underlying idea is to break through the reactive model to a proactive model. This is crucial to delivering the best patient care and employee engagement.

Along with the workforce planning, we leverage predictive analytics to ensure we retain and engage our caregivers at risk of leaving the organization more proactively. The Flight Risk Model we have developed allows the HR Business Partners and Operations leaders to proactively intervene when a caregiver may be at risk of leaving our organization. There are scores of categorical and continuous employee, department, and job function specific input variables that are considered in the model such as employee tenure, participation in benefits, comp ratios, productivity data, and engagement survey data among others. The model produces risk levels at a caregiver level to ensure we have proactive and targeted intervention strategies. This particular methodology and process has been highlighted as one of the Best Practices to retain and engage employees by The Advisory Board. With the advanced analytics framework, we are also able to perform studies to study how workforce variables such as turnover may impact business outcomes and have appropriate actionable insights to operationalize.

Additionally, by leveraging data analytics, operational dashboards make possible for organization leaders by helping them keep track of the talent acquisition process. This drives better resource management, better talent acquisition as per requirement while improving efficiency and candidate experience.

To acquire an efficient process of developing, operationalizing and deploying the domestic product or services, it is crucial to engage and collaborate with the stakeholders of the organization, whether it is HR or operational leaders, from commencement. The approach we took in defining the requirements, setting up the backend datamart, developing and deploying the workforce planning and predictive analytics framework could be industry agnostic as the underlying principles remain constant.

It is evident how essential a role data analytics plays when it comes to incorporating technology into core HR. With the substantial amount of data available along with growing maturity of the analytics functions, organizations must avoid reaching a state where excessive analysis paralyzes decision-making. Instead, the HR team should recognize the requirements of the organization and define the problem/s accordingly, whether it concerns workforce shortage, retention or quality hiring. HR and workforce analytics are breaking down the silos within an organization, bringing more value by connecting the dots of workforce analytics and operations analytics and everything in between to present the same view that drives the employee engagement as well as business outcomes.

In summary, leveraging data analytics has become a cornerstone to our HR function’s transformation from tactical to evolving into true Business Partners. Employees are the most valuable asset of any organization, hence your perspective towards them, your initiative to improve their engagement, enabling retention and development of their skills is crucial to your organization’s success.

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