Archive for the ‘outsourced training’ category

Talent2’s Competitive Edge

July 8, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

The NelsonHall HRO team recently spoke with Mary-Sue Rogers, Talent2’s global general manager for HR managed services, for an update on the major Asia-Pacific, pan-regional HRO service provider with ~2.6k clients across 30 countries. Its client base includes companies of all sizes in both the private and public sectors. The company had a busy fiscal Q4 2013 winning more than 60 contract awards across its service lines, including payroll, RPO, learning and HR advisory services.

The Asia-Pacific HRO Market is Competitive

Asia-Pacific is a huge and diverse region with many of the individual nations still considered “emerging markets,” with opportunities for long-term growth. Talent2’s in-region competitors are largely global HRO providers, some span all service lines and others go head-to-head-on a single service like RPO.

So how does a ten-year-young company compete with many of the biggest names in HRO? Its competitors also have in-region locations but find it hard to match Talent2’s 40+ HRO-dedicated locations supporting 31 languages in 16 Asia-Pacific countries, including parts of the Middle East. In May 2013, Talent2 further expanded its operations in support of the Asia-Pacific region by opening a service delivery center in the Philippines.

Succeed With a HRO Competitive Edge

It is a core part of providing multi-country services to offer local subject-matter expertise on employment rules, regulations, taxation and compliance reporting, and all of the competitors can provide such services directly or through vetted local partners.

Talent2 demonstrates deep knowledge of local regulations as well as cultural and business environments. It knows the nuances that others may miss, which can help develop a service offer that is right on the mark for design and cost. For example, in the first instance, Talent2 addresses the following questions:

  • What style of payroll service center support is preferred by employees in different areas of its region?
  • What are the differences in an MNC headquartered in the West versus one headquartered in the target region?

As a result, 50% of its clients use multi-country services led by payroll and followed by RPO. Some start with one targeted country and add more over time.

Quality services and competitive pricing, along with its deep knowledge, provides a winning combination for Talent2, achieving a NelsonHall estimated ~10% growth in FY 2013.

Then Change to Remain Competitive

Talent2, which became a private company in 2012, is working its way through its stated development roadmap. The multi-pronged plan is focused on upgrading and rationalizing its technology platform to meet current and future client needs and going environmentally green to control internal costs and lower the total cost of ownership for its clients.

HR services are changing rapidly all over the world, as are client needs and interests, and no service provider can long rest on its laurels. Therefore, the question arises: does your HRO service provider’s competitive edge match your needs today, and will it tomorrow?

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Mercer on the Move

June 14, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

This week I attended Mercer’s always well managed and informative analyst forum in Boston, MA. The meeting was focused on the talent consulting line of business.

Talent Management on the Rise

Mercer research indicates that human capital issues are a top CEO concern and managing talent is becoming a board of directors’ issue, moving beyond the traditional CEO succession planning and compensation to overall talent and workforce planning. The new Mercer Talent Barometer Survey, which was introduced at the 2013 World Economic Forum, reports that 60% of the 1,200 global companies surveyed are investing more in talent, but only 30% feel that their workforce plans are highly effective.

The business of talent has become both exciting and disruptive, with possible new entrants, globalization, media, innovations, and opportunities. (Talk about new entrants, eHarmony is considering getting into the talent matching game!)

With a possibility of double-digit growth, the talent group looked at how to grow across the talent value chain by expanding its services, tools and technology offerings for talent, rewards, and communications to increase growth and leverage Mercer’s depth of experience and capabilities.

The answer will become apparent over the next few months as more packaged solutions are launched that combine consulting, information, and technology to meet the needs of clients that want a less-customized consulting approach with “off-the-shelf” packaged and reusable services and tools.

Workforce Planning Versus HR Analytics

Some elements that will be leveraged are already mature and solid revenue producers. Surveys, benchmarks, and analytics for compensation/total rewards and job structures are a more than $200m line of business. Globalization of the revenues is already well on its way, with about equal distribution from North America, Europe, and emerging markets across 57 countries.

Instead of focusing on HR analytics, Mercer is emphasizing data acquisition and integration, data modeling, as well as data visualization as it applies to a wide range of workforce and data that drives business results. This may mean a consulting and outsourcing services engagement, it may mean workshops and training, or self-service use of integrated SaaS technology platforms with one or more Mercer products.

Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast

There are a lot of moving parts in Mercer’s strategy to create an integrated talent solutions portfolio.

It is brought together under the go-to-market Talent Impact label that includes new and existing products and services to forecast, engage, mobilize, reward and assess talent. Behind the scenes Mercer will be streamlining its own architecture into fewer and more integrated technology platforms to support the new offerings.

There is a lot to be done in a short time, but that is in alignment with the “think big, start small, and move fast” philosophy of Orlando Ashford, senior partner and president of Mercer’s talent business. Mercer is on the move!

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HRO (and overall BPO) Total Contract Values up in Q1 – Q3 2010

October 14, 2010

During NelsonHall’s recent quarterly BPO Index Call, our CEO John Willmott stated overall BPO contract values were up for all BPO sectors, including HRO, both on a rolling twelve-month basis from 2009 – 2010 as compared to 2008 – 2009, and up year-to-date Q1 – Q3 2010 as compared to Q1 – Q3 2009. This is all good news, but not a surprise given that we are beginning to see some recovery from the recession.

Looking specifically at HRO, total contract value (which includes the value of the full term contract plus any renewals) in Q1 – Q3 2010 was up nine percent. The growth came primarily from North America, while Europe declined as it is coming out of the recession a bit slower and clients in that region continue to be more cautious about outsourcing their HR processes. Although its total contract values isn’t as large as in North America, contracts are still being awarded in Europe, e.g., wins in Q3 by Logica, Midland HR, HR Access, Raet and CPH Consulting, as recently cited by my colleague Linda.

HRO growth in Q3 2010 was particularly led by RPO, similar to numerous other points during these tumultuous times. But here, I’d like to take a quick look at why the learning services market is starting to recover (please see Linda’s October 5 blog entitled, “Recapping the Not-so-Dog-Days of HRO’s 2010 Summer” to see a few of the recent learning contract awards.)

In learning, providers are introducing new training offerings largely focused on certified training courses, primarily technical areas including IT. Training is coming back to life, and the initial emphasis is on strengthening direct job-related skills. Making sure IT professionals can keep up with professional certifications can also be a way to build engagement and head off turnover as the employment market improves. There was also some introduction of new leadership development courses, perhaps indicating a return to a focus on the future by investing in management skills development. Finally, social learning is continuing to make inroads, and Expertus introduced its new platform, ExpertusONE, which facilitates communities of practice, expert networks and mentoring, in addition to normal learning system functions. Other new learning offerings introduced in Q3 included those from Raytheon Professional Services, QA and Edvantage Group.

It will be interesting to see, at the end of Q4, which HRO processes, regions and industries are the leaders and laggards. But much, much more to cover before then, including my “Targeting Learning BPO Market Analysis” to be published later this month.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

Smart HRO Buyers and Providers Strengthening Focus on Employee Engagement

September 24, 2010

In my April 29 and August 26 blogs I talked about grim levels of employee satisfaction and engagement, and a couple of ways in which HRO providers can help employers raise these levels.

Well folks, sadly, recent analyses show that employee sat and engagement are still exceptionally low in most world geos, and continue to drop. Hewitt  last month announced that approximately half of all companies around the world showed a significant drop in employee engagement as of the end of 2Q10, the largest decline it has seen in the 15 years it has been conducting employee engagement research. And Kenexa Research Institute’s 2010 WorkTrends Annual Report, released earlier this week, cited that India ranked highest in employee engagement at 71 percent, Japan the lowest at 38 percent, but that when employees report they follow effective leaders, the average employee engagement index score is 91 percent. Bleak numbers, and dangerous for employers as they try to recover from the economic downturn and emerge in a position of strength.

But some forward-thinking companies are taking steps to increase their employee engagement levels, and they serve as models for the types of things other organizations may want to consider doing. For example, Unilever contracted with Kenexa to conduct in 2010 and 2012 an employee engagement survey with 140,000 employees around the world, and also to help with action planning to address issues identified per the surveys. MphasiS India awarded Kenexa a contract to provide a 360-degree survey program. And Vodafone’s operating company in Qatar engaged Kenexa to deliver a leadership program to help 65 senior managers more effectively lead by minimizing misunderstandings and cultural conflict.

Further, a variety of providers are improving their talent management capability, including Mercer, which launched Human Capital Connect (powered by Peopleclick Authoria), a rewards and talent management consulting and technology solution, and ADP’s acquisition of Workscape is strengthening its performance management capability.

And speaking of strengthening performance management, in recent interviews for my upcoming learning market analysis, several vendors around the world have cited increased demand for leadership and performance management training. For example, Australia-based provider The Learning Factor stated that companies are trying to reinvent themselves and are investing in management programs, including performance management, across all countries and regions. One of its clients recently implemented a new performance management system, processes and required training for all managers. The training includes how to set goals and objectives, and how to provide feedback.

During the recessionary crisis of the past two years, organizations have been functioning in survival mode, focusing on cost cutting and downsizing rather than being proactive in practicing what they preach – “people are our most important asset.” Yet top leaders and companies are starting again to walk the talk. What are you walking and talking?

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

Online Chat Usage Increasing in HR Outsourcing

August 12, 2010

Picture this: You need to ask your bank a question. After navigating through its website unable to find the needed information and then trying to determine what you think is the correct toll-free phone number to dial, the fear sets in. Will I get lost forever in an IVR queue? Will I be on hold for an interminable period of time? Will I finally reach a live person only to be transferred and put on hold…again and again? We’ve all faced this, and it’s not pretty. But recently, after spending way too much time searching for the information I needed from my bank, I had a great experience getting an actual answer – yes, it’s true! – via its live online chat feature. After I clicked the button, the online agent greeted me in less than a minute, and within three minutes I had the information I needed, including follow up questions I had.

Granted, a key component of HRO providers’ core expertise is top-notch customer service via both websites and call centers. But what if there was another, alternative method for gaining desired information? Enter a Mercer news release issued earlier this week which carried the headline, “Mercer reports significant increase in online chat usage.” The announcement stated that use of its online chat capabilities has increased 55 percent since it piloted the offering with two clients in the beginning of 2009. 11 clients are now making the service available to their employees, and a number of clients plan to roll out the capability later this year. And usage by employees of the two pilot clients has upticked by 48 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in usage volume between 1H09 and 1H10.

Such a large increase in number of online chat sessions clearly indicates desire and demand for this type of communication – whether it be for questions on defined contribution plans, defined benefits plans or virtually any outsourced HR process. One of the reasons we’re seeing this surge is that live chat marries online ease and personal touch.

My advice to HRO providers considering adding live chat capabilities to their offerings portfolios – and I know of several that are currently evaluating the possibility – is that customer support must be absolutely world-class, employee satisfaction-focused. Within seconds responses, kept-to promises of when the answer will be delivered to the employee if it’s not immediately available, highly knowledgeable and skilled reps – not only in policies and programs, but also in quelling concerns…all of these are critical to ensuring the success of online chat. Fail in any of these areas and you’ll not only have an unsuccessful offering, you’ll have those who experienced a poor interaction blogging and tweeting about it. They will…you can be certain of it. These are tech-comfortable individuals who will have no qualms – or technological challenges – in doing so. Be prepared, start with a pilot, learn from the pilot and you may have a winning service offering for you, your clients and their employees.

Care to share your online chat experience?

Gary Bragar, Senior HR Outsourcing Analyst, NelsonHall

The Abundant Value Proposition of Learning 2.0 Portals

May 19, 2010

In my February 11 blog on “The Buzz about Learning 2.0 Portals,” I referenced research conducted by Expertus and Training Industry, Inc. which found that within the next two years, 45 percent of survey respondents plan to upgrade their existing learning portal and 14 percent plan to launch a new learning portal. And based on the results of a Learning BPO research study I recently launched, this comes as no surprise as the value of learning portals is becoming increasingly clear.

Learning 2.0 portals have a lot of functionality and can deliver significant benefits to the end-user company and its employees. Here is just a sampling of what I found to be noteworthy capabilities per a recent demo of Expertus’ customizable, web-based, social learning platform:

• The ability to consolidate learning information from what may be multiple legacy systems into one portal to view:

«   All mandatory company training programs along with due dates, a brief description and time required, and a click-of-a-button launch of a selected training program

«   Recommended learning and ratings by peers who have already taken programs. Imagine the value of this, for example, to a salesperson who has to quickly learn about a new product for an upcoming meeting with a prospect

«   The latest blog on topics related to specific interest areas or job functions

•  The ability to obtain insights from and ask questions of peers via a chat feature within the portal

•  The ability to access subject matter experts 24 x 7 – via the portal – for assistance when new learning programs are launched and a question arises. Imagine…no more needing to determine who to email or call and then waiting for a response, or getting caught in an IVR menu jungle

•  The ability to link training to talent management and create career paths and development plans, etc.

Need tangible proof of the value of learning 2.0 portals? One Expertus client achieved in four months a 388 percent increase in course registration volume, a 178 percent increase in new courses offered, and an increase of 123 percent for new learner registrations.

Of course there are many learning 2.0 portal providers in today’s marketplace, including Norway-based Edvantage Group which just yesterday announced a contract to provide a learning portal for MOT. MOT is an educational organization working with young people in Norway and South Africa to improve school environments via social learning methods such as peer-to-peer communication, exercises, stories, role playing and dialogues with other young people. 

A word of advice here to buyers. If/when you decide to implement a learning 2.0 portal, don’t pick a provider based solely on its technology offering, as technology is only as good as it is used. You’ll want a provider that can teach you how to or manage for you: 1) putting all the different learning environments, curricula and social networking functionality into the portal; 2) ensuring that content is continually updated; and 3) communicating the value of the portal throughout the enterprise, and conducting virtual learning demonstrations on how to use and best leverage the portal.

You’ll also want to make decisions on other portal-based aspects such as whether you want to provide all employees with unlimited access to learning or add in certain restrictions, whether all courses will be free or some will be fee-based, etc. A savvy learning provider can guide you through these types of decisions and build them into the system for you, as required.

Have you implemented a learning 2.0 portal? If so, I’d very much like to hear comments on your experiences, what worked well, what didn’t, what challenges you encountered, how the portal has been received by your employee base, the value you’ve achieved to date, etc.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

Kindergarten, HRO and Learning for the 21st Century Workforce

April 8, 2010

“All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Ah…if only it were as simple for the 21st century workforce as the title of Robert Fulghum’s book! Opportunities for learning the skills necessary to excel in one’s selected career have become more challenging in the past several decades – think of the skyrocketing costs of a university education! – and since the beginning of the recession, employers have significantly cut back on their training programs.

This is why I was very pleased to see just this week three HRO service providers’ announcements on what they are doing today to help both clients and the public at large to improve their learning skills. A quick look at these three examples:

First, Manpower sponsored the “Skills for the 21st Century” knowledge track at the Ashoka Future Forum. According to the announcement, the track was “designed to harness the intellectual power of thought leaders across all sectors to create a common vision for how to prepare U.S. talent throughout the education system, and how to build a culture of lifelong learning among adult workers that ensure the U.S. workforce is able to adapt as rapidly as the global economy is changing.” And during a session entitled, “Putting Adults on the Path of Being Changemakers,” Manpower gave a demonstration of MyPath, its free online career development and social network.

Second, Expertus expanded its collection of free learning webinars. Intended primarily for corporate training professionals, the company has just added three new webinars: “Numbers Don’t Lie – 4 Truths of Learning Measurement Success”; “9 Ways to Trim Operational Expenses to Fund Strategic Learning”; and “Secrets of Successful Learning Systems.”  The gratis webinars are available as recordings and come with presentation slides.

Third, RWD established the Vanguard Leadership Forum, a “center of innovation that provides access to thought leadership around improving the way people work.” The Forum, available free of charge to RWD clients, will focus on topics including Leadership and Team Development; The Performing Organization; Performance-based Analysis and Design; Knowledge, Content and Learning Management; eLearning and Mobile Learning; Simulation and Gaming; Workplace and Social Learning; and Learning Technologies and Tools.

Why was I so encouraged by these announcements? The technology we utilize in our jobs, the way we operate and the skill sets required to perform our jobs are dramatically different than they were 30 years ago, 15 years ago, five years ago, even one year ago, and they will undoubtedly continue to change. Thus, helping foster an environment of continuous learning is imperative for:

•  Current employees and candidates looking for jobs to continually learn new skill sets, including career development and how to leverage social networks

•  Employers, as they need to know how to implement better ways to learn, with better technology and to do so cost effectively. Further, to maintain competitive advantage, employers must adopt a culture of continuous learning

By looking at just these three examples, it appears the tide is turning to a renewed acknowledgement of the importance of continuous learning and improvement of employee skill sets. Yes, we all learned not to run with scissors and not to drink finger paints when we were in kindergarten. But, wise employers create a learning culture, and wise employees seek out learning opportunities that will launch them into and keep them in the top quartile.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

The Compliance Rules, They are a Changing (and Present Opps for HRO)

December 8, 2009

Compliance is not always the most exciting topic, and being the manager of workforce safety, leave of absence and FMLA were on Kris Dunn’s Workforce.com list of the Five Worst Jobs in HR. Exciting or not, compliance is important to both employees and employers, and is a major regulatory focus of the current U.S. administration. It is also an opportunity for HR outsourcing.

I was reading the just-published U.S. Department of Labor’s Fall 2009 Regulatory Plan agenda (really, I was…I need to get a more exciting life!) and the list of proposed changes is very long and touches on many HRO service areas. Here are a few examples of proposals:

•  LOA/FMLA: review the implementation of the new military family leave amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as other provisions of the FMLA regulations that were revised and implemented in January 2009

•  Benefits: Clarify the circumstances under which a person will be considered a fiduciary when providing investment advice to employee benefit plans and their participants and beneficiaries, and require defined benefit plan administrators to provide all participants, beneficiaries and other parties with detailed information regarding their plan’s funding status  

•  OSHA: collection of additional data to help employers and workers track injuries at individual workplaces

•  Wage & Hour: update decades old recordkeeping regulations in order to enhance the transparency and disclosure to workers as to how their wages are computed, and to allow for new workplace practices such as telework and flexiplace arrangements

While large-scale HRO is not usually driven by compliance issues, it is a benefit of outsourcing increasingly valued by buyers.

Continually updated regulatory compliance support and reports can be designed into HR services delivery systems and make any audits much easier to support with thorough documentation.

Training and coverage of required reviews are also a part of a compliance system. On Monday, my NelsonHall colleague Gary Bragar and I were catching up on the learning activities of a multi-process HRO provider and we briefly discussed compliance training. Too often it is funded at the lowest possible level and designed to meet the letter of the regulations and to document participant coverage. It can entirely miss the larger point of application in real work situations as well as the value and spirit behind the regulations.

Significant expertise is required to manage benefit and health and safety programs. Having an HRO partner that keeps up on the regulations and can help buyers design and administer a cost effective program brings real value to the business, HR and to employees. Compliance tracking and reporting can indeed be tedious, but compliance coverage and training need not be.

Learning vendors — be creative  and show clients how they can leverage outsourced compliance training services to provide coverage that really works and is still low cost. 

At the end of the day, compliance is about value-based fairness, and impacts the real lives of employees and communities and an HRO provider partner can help companies maintain the balance between compassion, compliance and cost.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

Training HR Business Partners – Breaking New Ground for HRO Relationships

November 20, 2009

My August 27 blog focused on the importance of training recruiters – both in-house and outsourced – on how to leverage new school recruiting techniques, platforms and mediums in order to prepare for the hiring uptick that’s expected in 2010. This training is vital, as it not only aids the recruiting effort but also enables HR to help support the company’s strategic and competitive business objectives.

Broadening our view here to training which helps enable attainment of business objectives and better relationships between HRO buyers and HRO providers, a variety of HRO service providers hold user conferences which include educational components. For example, Ceridian has an academic program that offers resources and some training for client HR teams, and its user conferences always offer a few very well attended sessions that qualify for continuing education credits.

So I was very interested in Kenexa’s announcement earlier this week of a training initiative it launched for E. ON U.K., an integrated power and gas company. Kenexa’s new one-day developmental training program is helping E. ON U.K.: 1) embed HR guru David Ulrich’s business partner model – the intent of which is to “help HR professionals to integrate more thoroughly into business processes and to align their day-to-day work with business outcomes… focusing more on deliverables than doables…Instead of measuring process, business partners are encouraged to measure results’’ – and 2) assess the development needs of its staff.

The training simulates an HR business partner’s workday, in which participants are observed and given immediate feedback including career advice, developmental recommendations and a full assessment report.

To underscore the significance of this type of training, let’s define HR business partner. Internally, HR business partners support the business leaders and teams of each division/ business unit of their company to manage implementation and execution of HR processes such as workforce planning and performance management. When involved in an HRO engagement, the HR business partners in the retained organization – at least at the top ranks – have added responsibility for managing the relationship with the HRO provider in conjunction with the governance team, and ensuring results are achieved and qualitatively and quantitatively measurable.

HR business partner training, if engineered to specifically address best practices in HRO provider relationship management and objectives achievement, represents a monumental boon to HRO buyers and providers alike.

While I think it will take a while for this type of training to catch on and for success stories to arise in the marketplace, I thoroughly expect buyers beyond E. ON U.K. will take notice and look for their providers to provide similar training. Further, I believe other forward-thinking HRO providers will begin evaluating how they can offer this type of training. 

I hope both parts of the equation do, as it will help strengthen the relationship and extend the strategic partnership between HRO buyers and providers, and more easily enable the realization of business objectives expected from the engagement.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

Learning Outsourcing: Smart Companies Preparing for Competitive Advantage Post-Recession

November 10, 2009

A recurring theme in a variety of our more recent blogs is an expectation of increased HRO activity in 2010 and beyond for a range of HR processes. This uptick – yes, just uptick, not monumental increase – is evidenced by smart organizations’ preparation for competitive post- (or edging toward post) recession stance.

Take learning outsourcing. A recent Workforce Management magazine article, in which the soon to be released results from a joint Bersin & Associates/Workforce Management study of more than 1,400 U.S.-based organizations were discussed, found that nearly four in 10 large companies outsourced learning support functions to compensate for staff cuts.

NelsonHall’s 3Q09 HRO Confidence Index found that pipeline growth for outsourced learning increased from 2.3 on a scale of 1 – 5 in Q1 to 4.0 in Q2. Why this up-swell in outsourced learning, despite dreary near-term economic conditions? Let’s remember that learning was one of the faster growing areas of HRO with a strong list of benefits, including:

•  Ability to focus on the critical importance of developing high potential employees and leadership with the reality of significantly reduced in-house training staff

•  Reduced training expenses, ranging from 10 to 15 percent for administration-only outsourcing contracts to 30 to 50 percent for full learning BPO arrangements utilizing offshore content development and/or administrative resources

•  Increased visibility and control over learning spend

•  Improved learning evaluation and measurement through access to learning analytics and customized reporting facilities

•  Reduced time to competency in jobs with high turnover

•  Ability to deliver global learning programs at a lower cost through established provider networks

•  Ability to more effectively track and integrate both formal and informal learning networks

•  Improved post-training support and analysis, e.g., evaluations three months after course events, and mentoring programs for new employees

The new Bersin/Workforce Management study indicates that training student hours, budgets and staffs were all cut during the downturn. As companies prepare to return training to the forefront, they are unlikely to return to the previous levels of spend and staff in the near term due to continued uncertainty. Learning outsourcing can help bridge the gap and bring its own advantages, as noted above, to buyer organizations.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall