face personality assessments, which
provide HR with a success profile to
measure against for future hires.
“We’re not just starting at the
beginning and building the data
strategy and systems,” says Boyle,
adding that HR is concurrently building
measurements on both ends of the
talent-management spectrum. “Find
receptive places [to measure] instead of
trying to push a rock uphill. Go where
the demand is and build from there,
then everybody will want it.”
Last year, Chicago-based Combined
Insurance, which offers supplemental,
health and life insurance, launched a
measuring process that complements
hard metrics about the estimated 100
corporate staff it hires each year.
Melanie Lundberg, assistant vice
president of talent management
and corporate communications at
the company, which supports 3,500
employees nationwide, sends a survey
to an employee’s hiring manager at the
end of his or her first 60 days.
“It gives me great feedback not only
on the new hire but potential breakdowns
in the process,” Lundberg says.
The survey looks at performance,
culture fit, how the new hire’s skills
compare to his or her predecessor and
then solicits suggestions for improving
the recruiting and onboarding process.
Hiring managers rate whether new hires
fall below, meet or exceed expectations.
For those with low ratings, Lundberg
discusses the selection process with
the recruiter to see what might have
been missed. Lundberg recently
started having new hires rate the
recruiting, onboarding and orientation
processes and, in the long term, hopes
to develop a holistic perspective on
the new-hire experience by comparing
responses among hiring managers and
new hires over a three-year period.
Lundberg reviews the raw data,
shares it with the executive team and
then seeks solutions. She points to two
new hires in the past two years who
quit within several months because of
their long commute. While such issues
were briefly addressed in interviews, she
says, recruiters now repeatedly discuss
them to improve decision-making.
While there are many ways to
measure quality of hire, the process
starts with understanding predictors
of performance and selecting the right
metrics to measure, says Ranjan Dutta,
partner and people analytics practice
leader at Aon in Washington.
“There are certain job families
that are more important to the
organization . . . [because] they have a
disproportionate impact on revenue or
profitability,” he says, adding that HR
should first develop metrics for these
positions and then compare their data
to industry benchmarks.
global research and advisory firm based
in Stamford, Conn.
He suggests using a rating scale
and asking a handful of behavior-based
questions, such as: Does this person
know how to get work done? In what
area(s) is this individual struggling? Is the
employee’s work meeting the company’s
quality standards? Is the person
effectively engaging with customers?
The survey should be online, Kropp
says, to reduce uneasiness.
“Make sure you’re creating an
environment for co-workers where
they feel comfortable providing
constructive, rather than evaluative,
feedback,” Kropp says. “Then you can
get great feedback and aggregate it
into a quality-of-hire score.”
Overall, the measurement process
should reflect teamwork between HR
and hiring managers, with HR acting
as quarterback, adds Adam Samples,
president of staffing at Atrium, a New
York-based talent-management firm.
He explains that HR is positioned
to help hiring managers decide what’s
most important when hiring, such as
skills or culture fit. Since the process
isn’t cookie-cutter or evergreen, he
says, HR can also introduce new tools
that help identify behavioral patterns
of high and low performers and
continually revise the process based on
changing market conditions, industry
trends or retention rates.
“The market is changing every
single day,” says Samples. “I encourage
all HR professionals to play offense
and be very deliberate about how
you’re going to continue to [hire and]
retain the best talent in this dynamic,
technological age that we’re all
operating in right now.”
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But never assume. Instead,
collaborate with supervisors about
their workforce needs and identify
which metrics to capture.
Likewise, measure flexibility, creativity
and other soft skills involved in decision-making, he says. Consider analyzing
your candidate pipeline using pre-hire
assessment tools and compare them
against profiles of successful employees.
Among the most common HR
mistakes is simply not tracking data,
Dutta says, either due to lack of
knowledge or work overload. But if
you don’t have “the right quality of
people coming in,” he says, “you may
Some companies also survey co-
workers of new hires.
Timing is important. The “sweet
spot” for surveying all parties is between
90 and 120 days because it’s enough time
for new hires to get their feet wet but still
early enough to intervene and accelerate
the person’s performance, says Brian
Kropp, HR practice leader at Gartner, a
In Fourth Place
Twenty-seven percent of more than 500 employers say that reducing cost per hire is their top talent-acquisition priority, followed by reducing agency utilization ( 24 percent), increasing hiring-manager satisfaction ( 24 percent) and improving quality of hire ( 22 percent), according to
results from the Open Standards Benchmarking survey on talent acquisition,
conducted by the American Productivity & Quality Center.
Of the 49 percent of employers that measure quality of hire, 51 percent
believe their process is adequate or less than adequate while 18 percent say it’s
optimized. Half of those who have a formal measuring process do so by tracking
length of service, 48 percent consider engagement scores, 46 percent rely on
new-hire performance data after a set period of service and 45 percent survey
hiring managers about their satisfaction with their new hire.
“I speak with HR leaders regularly,” says Elissa Tucker, principal research lead in
HCM at APQC. “So many are in the process of either integrating their technology
systems or upgrading to an HR platform that is much more integrative. They’ll
pull those measures together that matter to their organization and, over time, will
“We have to be careful of external
content,” Dervin says, noting that, just
because the information is accessible
through Google doesn’t mean you
can promote it to the entire company.
“Some of it that’s considered public
domain may need to be licensed or
contracted—we have to be careful about
Though challenging, these issues
led Dervin and her team to forge
strong partnerships with other parts of
Cargill, especially IT, which helped the
team determine if its internal content
would be accessible to employees
off-site, outside of the network and
firewall. Such accessibility issues
would render the entire concept of
on-demand learning useless, she says.
They also realized that, just because
Cargill produced content, it didn’t have
to be locked behind a firewall.
“We asked, ‘If someone else has
access to this microlearning content
we developed, is it really a competitive
differentiator for them?’ ” says Dervin.
Dervin says she and her team are
working to determine their content-management strategy around what
they’ll provide to employees and what
they should be able to find using a
Meeting Employee Needs
At Marsh & McLennan, Meyer
discovered employees had a desire
for relevant, skills-based, on-demand
learning and the flexibility to learn
when and where it makes sense to
them, in the mode with which they’re
Whether leaders want to accept
it or not, employees are already
microlearning in some capacity at
work and at home, Meyer says. As a
result, Cargill’s Dervin says, employees
want a consumer-grade experience
at work. “When we talk about talent
management, we need to recognize
that employees are becoming more
discerning,” she says. “They look at
things like, what’s the rhythm of work
in the company and what experience
does the company provide to help
employees be successful and fulfilled in
their work and careers?” These days,
she says, no one wants to leave work for
three or four days to sit in a classroom.
Xilinx’s Lewis has an interesting
anecdote for today’s modern employee:
“We’re all going downhill 90 miles an
hour with our hair on fire … . Life and
work are converging into a big ball of
yarn and people don’t have time to sit
He adds that a Deloitte
infographic—which included the
stat that people check their phones
an average of nine times per hour—
resonated with him as he made the
decision to implement microlearning.
Deloitte’s Griffiths says shortening
attention spans have become a real
problem—and microlearning is
addressing the attention-deficit crisis by
breaking down skill development and
learning into short bursts of information.
To further combat attention
struggles, Griffiths says, companies can
individualize the microlearning process.
He suggests offering employees one
source of content (instead of multiple)
on one platform that is optional. “The
best platforms are personalized and
built for people to share and drive their
own learning rather than being told or
pushed into a learning event,” he says.
Saba’s Mennie adds that, at any
given time, 30 percent or more of the
workforce is out of the office—so those
crafting microlearning programs should
think about how temps, contractors and
freelancers can consume content in an
“Data has shown that 80 percent
of learning happens on the job, yet
only 32 percent of employees have
at work,” he says. “If you allow
employees to learn at their own pace
about topics that interest them, they
feel empowered. And an empowered
employee is an engaged, retained
employee for life.”
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