By Adam Hale, CEO, Fairsail

Businesses have neglected their customers for a long time, but there has been a huge amount of investment put into rectifying this situation over the past 15 years with initiatives such as CRM and ‘customer insight’. During the more recent recession, focus understandably fell on maintaining top line revenue while controlling costs, and as a result, relatively little attention has been dedicated to employees. To put it bluntly, a ‘people are lucky to have a job’ mentality has presided.

However, as economies begin to grow again, we’re seeing a global skills crisis, high attrition, and a return to the ‘war for talent’. And, the way we work has also changed; today’s organisations are faced with the challenge of a workforce that is increasingly global, mobile, social, contingent and tech savvy. In this market, companies really need to attract, understand, motivate, develop and retain the best people.

But today’s new breed of fast-growing, global businesses frequently find themselves held back by HR systems that were designed for a slower-paced, more predictable world. Many enterprises have a legacy domestic system — or even a ‘spreadsheet hell’ cobbled together over the years that does little more than keep an often incomplete record of key HR information. These outdated systems constrain the ability to recruit and retain top talent, which in turn impacts the achievement of organisational goals. And, perhaps more surprisingly, it seems that many companies still don’t know the fundamentals about their greatest asset — their people.

To illustrate this, Fairsail recently went live with one firm who initially told us they had 500 people. They actually had 425 employees — that is 18 per cent out. Another took two months to work out how many staff it had, and a third keeps 3,000 employee records on spreadsheets alone. It is also not uncommon for companies to continue paying people who’ve left their company, whilst at the same time, failing to pay current employees — a problem that occurs when payroll and HR systems are not linked. There are even some employees who find it easier to drive 20 miles to book their holiday rather than trying to use their HR system remotely.

In another instance, one out-of-date HR system cannot be turned off as the same system also controls access to the company’s building. Additionally, in most organisations, employees cannot update their bank details or profiles themselves, meaning that in one company it took the CEO three attempts to get his salary paid into the right bank account. Yes, that really happened!

Ultimately, if workforce experiences are consistently good, people will join, perform and want to stay with a company, and contractors and freelancers will want to come back and work on future projects. If they’re not, they won’t, and high attrition is one of most companies’ biggest issues. Customer success + workforce success = company success.

In short, there is a real need for new systems that can support the modern workforce by transforming the way organisations acquire, engage, manage and develop their people. The time has come for change, and that time is now. Without it, the essential foundation for employee engagement and more intelligent workforce analytics is just not there.