Transforming your Organisation – CIPD Organisation Development Conference, 24 Sep 2014
Excellent discussion and presentations at the CIPD conference today. Paul Taylor from NHS Employers, Faye Andrews from British Gas and Eeswaran Navaratnam of Onyx.
A question from many previous years stayed in my mind though: are Org Development professionals quantifying the value of their excellent interventions? Some speakers touched on the question of measurement, but it was rarely a focus. It’s a gap which makes life hard for HR and OD professionals and I spent most of the day hoping for more.
An example of this was an OD professional from a government office. A person you instinctively like and you know he’s doing a great job. He’d worked on the transformation of an Emergency Service. The change team focused on Employee WellBeing. They agreed the approach with managers and unions and the organisation took real, hard decisions. It committed to investing 2 hours per week for every employee in learning and development. 5% of each employee’s time. And for some employees who had had health issues, the organisation agreed that the Wellbeing commitment meant the L&D could be undertaken while the employee did physical exercise in the gym. Two lots of 1 hour per week, in paid time. Fingers crossed the tabloids would never make a scandal of it. And anecdotally, the benefit was that absence levels in individual cases dropped a lot.
The example embodied everything that is great, but also frustrating about OD. It was an inspired intervention, focusing on something that could be great for the employee and the organisation. Everyone believed it was right.
But the issue for me was that no-one had done the numbers to show the impact. I bet the investment was a good one – but if as OD professionals we cannot show the return on investment, we will be missing out on, let’s guess, 3 in 5 good investment opportunities (in health, in training, in development, in personal skills) that organisations could be making.
To shake me from despondency, the great presentation of the day came in mid afternoon. Elouise Leonard-Cross and Isla Newcombe of Home Group, Newcastle, turned it all around. Home Group’s 3,500 employees provide 55,000 homes across 200 local authorities ‘from Dundee to Devon.’ They have instituted a cultural change programme – values such as ‘Being at Your Best’ or ‘Be Here Now’. So far, so mainstream: initiatives such as Investors in People, Great Place to Work and a balanced scorecard. They also had fun and funky initiatives, such as Home Group value-themed colourful fruit juices and Home Group Pick’n’Mix sweets. They had feedback on the grapevine that it was working: 18 people who asked for their partners to be sent on the culture change course; emails saying that people find it easier to relate to their teenage children. I listened, I liked it, but grumpily thought that this was another OD initiative that could only evidence its impact with anecdotes. But…
The Home Group team blew me away. They have started to measure impact. They have gone around the entire business gathering the data on 4 years’ worth of initiatives in culture change and engagement. They have persuaded people to share their data: on absence, demographics, training, performance, customer satisfaction. They have built some great analytics. And the impact is that they can now identify which areas can take actions, and why.
When they asked the audience, only one other OD professional present raised their hand to say they’d done anything similar. Some people were nervous about being swamped with data. But plenty of people were listening hard, and given that it is now becoming easier to collect and process data I swear, it’s the future. If you’re interested in learning more check out Four strategies to Data Quality and An alternative to the Data Warehouse approach to HR analytics.
Until now, I have found some rare and precious examples of organisations that put together their data. Examples where training investments have real impact on some employees’ performance – and the data shows target groups that can be targeted. Examples where engagement scores correlate with absence rates, shrinkage or employee safety. For me, Elouise and Isla of Home Group were showing the industry the way forward. Let’s not be scared. Let’s get some numbers and show the value of OD!
Check out another data driven success story and find out how RS Components empowered its Global HR Operations through Data Integration and HR Analytics.
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