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Partnering with a more human resource

Heads Nodding. It was a Good Sign.

Ahu Yildirmaz, Ph.D. Vice President, ADP Research Institute

I looked around the room a few times.  I saw a lot of nodding heads.

I had just presented at a recent Argyle Executive Forum on Human Capital Leadership that confirmed  two concerns that Fortune 500 organizations continue to have in common:  Employee engagement and corporate culture.

More than 180 attendees found themselves nodding in unison as guest speakers shared their approaches to addressing these concerns.  For instance, a speaker from Amazon shared the “Top Ten” lessons its HR organization has learned about the “Art of the Peculiar,” which turns on its ear many of the traditional ways of evaluating employee engagement.  Another speaker, from Deloitte, shared the results of its recent human capital trends report, which identified 10 human capital management trends using a framework it calls the 4Cs for HR – capacity, capabilities, community and credibility.

Other presentations featured HR leaders from News Corp., Bank of America, Glassdoor, and Praxair, to name a few.  They covered a lot of ground:  Empowering and engaging employees; building corporate culture and diversity, and transforming HR into a strategic component of business success.

I was glad that I could contribute to the conversation by sharing something near and dear to me:  The power of data to help HR professionals increase their value and drive business success.

progress   argyle

Ahu Yildirmaz, head of the ADP Research Institute®, shares findings from the 2016 ADP Research Institute Evolution of Work study during a recent Argyle Executive Forum on Human Capital Leadership.


I did that by highlighting results from the latest ADP Workforce® Vitality Report and the 2016 ADP Research Institute® Evolution of Work study — a global look at 2,000 employees and employers across 13 countries.  Together, they highlight key trends that are relevant to the conversation:

  1. The workplace is evolving faster than ever before.
  1. Second, there are five key themes driving global workplace change: workplace flexibility, access to real-time learning, increased autonomy, a sense of stability, and the ability to work on projects that are personally meaningful.

Most HR professionals know the rate and pace of work has sped up.  But what’s really interesting to me is that the forces driving that acceleration are pivotal to a discussion about employee engagement and corporate culture.

Let’s take just one example:  The cost to attract and retain talent.

Of course, HR executives are trained to look at “the numbers,” things like wage and employment growth figures that inform daily decisions.   But lately, these executives are encountering a dilemma that the reported numbers, which are averages, don’t help them resolve.  These averages don’t address the fact that the composition of the labor market is changing, and so, too, are the dynamics of how you attract and retain talent.

Mature workers are leaving the workforce with higher wages than the younger workers being brought in to replace them.  In traditional wage reports, that trend influences the U.S. wage growth rate, and makes it appear lower than it actually is.

Our research from the ADP Research Institute took a different approach.  It looked at different segments of the workforce and tracked workers who have been in jobs for more than a year.  Our research revealed that, on average, wages are actually growing at a higher rate than the averages being reported elsewhere.

So what’s the lesson here?  Well, for me, the disparity highlights that it pays to be careful how you act on wage data.  And for strategic HR leaders, growing closer to helping to drive business success, it’s important to understand how external benchmarks should be applied to individual organizations.

As I wrapped up my presentation to the Argyle Event attendees, it was clear that the majority of those in the audience are enthusiastic about the future of work and the implications for HR leaders.

I was also pleased to see another positive sign:  A large number of heads nodding in agreement!

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