Posted tagged ‘North America’

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 Yesterday and Today

October 29, 2012

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

NelsonHall was pleased to contribute to the HRO Today article Out of the Ashes for the 10th anniversary issue. 

Looking back ten years shows a picture of HR saddled with expensive and paper-heavy manual processes, even after the introduction of the big HR ERPs from PeopleSoft, SAP, and Lawson, providing impetus for an emerging HRO industry.

A New HRO Emerges…

The new HRO industry was full of great ideas and big plans and ready to grow well beyond payroll and benefits administration services. Unfortunately, intentions were a bit ahead of capabilities including the buyers, providers, and technology. Luckily for the industry, most clients and service providers fought through the issues, the losses, the changes in scope, and even changes in providers, to stay with HRO.

One of the biggest changes we have seen is the maturation of the HRO experience and enabling technologies. As the HRO experience has been developed, subject matter expertise has grown, global service delivery networks have been built, processes have become structured and standardized, and technology has advanced with more configuration and less customization.

…Goes Global…

HRO is now global in every sense of the word. Clients are based in every region of the world as are sales and service delivery. The highest revenues are still generated from the established markets like North America and Western Europe; the growth markets in Asia Pacific and Latin America are developing beyond service delivery (supply) for multinationals into internal markets for growing regional businesses (demand). For example, IBM is headquartered in the U.S. and Tata Consulting Services (TCS) is headquartered in India, both have major multi-county multi-process HRO clients in Latin America as well as a growing set of in-region service delivery centers.

… and Gets High Tech

Technology advancement is the great enabler of HRO services. The BPO industry as we know it would not be viable without global low-cost communications and the internet that allows work to be done anywhere at any time. Software advances bring not only better tools to clients, but improved workflow processing to HRO service providers, allowing work distribution to where it can be done most efficiently and effectively. Now an employee in the U.S. may call a service center on or nearshore with a complex issue that creates a tier 2 referral to a center of excellence in a third country using data and analysis derived from the data center in a fourth country.

Web-based services, mobile device access, and social media are all transforming the user experience and bringing more value at affordable prices to HRO. The creation of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) services, HRO platform services that add BPO to SaaS, and the Cloud are bringing more options and affordability to all clients, especially to the mid-market.  

The HRO industry has grown in maturity, capability, and has an even greater future ahead. 

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The Trajectory of Change for HR and HRO

September 28, 2012

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

The 15th Annual PwC Global CEO Survey of 1,258 CEOs in 60 countries shows what CEOs want now from HR that transcends country and industry. PwC summed it up as:

  1. Protect the home market from uncertainty
  2. Attack new and emerging markets for growth.

Hockey legend Wayne Gretsky said that he skated to where the puck would be, not to where it was, anticipating the trajectory of change. This is hard for HR, which often takes years to complete a major change and looks to HRO with a focus on price and improving operational efficiency. Skating to where we needed to be yesterday is hard enough; how do we skate to where we need to be tomorrow?

CEOs Top Concern: Talent

For the last two years, the number one concern of CEOs in the PwC survey is talent. CEOs are personally concerned with developing leaders and the talent pipeline. Why? Because CEOs see that talent constraints and mismatches are already limiting opportunities. CEO talent concerns include:

  1. Talent-related expenses rising more than expected
  2. Not being able to innovate effectively
  3. Not being able to pursue a market opportunity
  4. Cancelling or delaying key strategic initiatives
  5. Not achieving growth forecasts in overseas markets.

Talent Gaps

Availability of key skills is a concern in every market outside of North America, especially for the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. This matches well with the drive to increase the global coverage of RPO.

Talent gaps are greater in some areas. In addition to global talent concerns, it is harder for some industries such as technology and pharmaceuticals / life sciences to find needed skilled talent. Of heightened concern is middle management talent. Will RPO best fit at the level of volume and skilled talent hires? Or will RPO further encroach into middle management recruiting?

The future is also about talent management and proof of HR’s business impact. This supports the movement we are seeing to strengthen talent management (TM) capabilities through M&A. Examples include:

  • SAP and SuccessFactors
  • Oracle and Taleo
  • IBM and Kenexa.

CEOs Want Proof

Proof of business impact is part of HR metrics and advanced analytics. Even what should be the basics in workforce information is not considered comprehensive enough by most CEOs; they would like more data including the return on human capital investments, the cost of turnover, and staff productivity. HRO is ready with HR analytics as one of the newest components of HRO offerings.

Today, most HRO remains pressured on price rather than on value delivered. In hockey, someone must put the puck into play. In HR and HRO, someone must pay to develop the capabilities CEOs say they want. In the meantime, HRO is doing a good job of getting ready to skate to where business needs are going.

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Spotlight on Infosys BPO and HRO: Growing, Growing, and Growing

August 16, 2012

Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Since its inception 10 years ago, Infosys has experienced great growth and success. Its fiscal 2012 BPO revenues were $495m, more than tripling since the $147m it reported in 2007. To support its growing client list over this period, Infosys has nearly doubled its headcount to more than 21k employees and has added 16 international centers to the two centers it had in 2007.

 The company provides a balanced mix of horizontals from finance and accounting to sourcing and procurement to customer service, and of course HR.

In addition to its multi-process HR outsourcing (MPHRO) offering, Infosys’ standalone HR BPO offerings include:

  • Payroll
  • RPO
  • Learning.

The company has a very strong HRO client base in North America, which accounts for 45%. The remainder of its HRO clients are fairly distributed between Asia Pacific (30%) and Europe (25%).

While Infosys’ HR technology offering is very strong, its HR BPO business has been steadily growing, and the company is aggressive with its target revenues for HRO over the next few years. With its planned growth initiatives, I believe it has a very good chance of meeting its targets due to its:

  • High client retention rate
  • Ability to expand existing contracts to grow with its clients
  • Healthy pipeline with the possibility of a multi-process HR outsourcing (MPHRO) win in the near future.

My overall impression of Infosys at their recent analyst day was that they are genuinely nice warm people who really listen and are transparent. All qualities which I highly admire, and apparently qualities that are valued by two of its existing clients that came to speak during the analyst day:

  • A North American headquartered banking and financial services company
  • A U.S. headquartered media company.

Other reasons why these clients selected Infosys for BPO services included:

  • Executive attention
  • Trust to do the right thing
  • A broad offering for future growth opportunities
  • Flexibility
  • Technology capabilities.

The lesson reinforced by these clients is that organizations are looking for service providers who listen and genuinely understand them so together, they can create a strong, lasting partnership where both companies prosper in their respective area of expertise.

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Kenexa and Aon Hewitt New Product Offerings Help Clients Hire, Engage, and Retain Talent

June 18, 2012

By Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall

Kenexa’s RPO business has been growing, including globally as evidenced by its five year RPO contract with Eli Lilly to provide services in Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Americas.

Kenexa has been expanding its business with new service offerings including those focused on talent management. Two new product offerings that help clients hire, engage, and retain talent include:

  • Fit Compass
  • Career Bull’s Eye.

Kenexa calls these offerings Performance Accelerators.

Fit Compass: helps clients determine the quality of the hire by providing managers with an interview guide to help probe for candidate strengths, work styles, and challenges of how they would fit into the culture of the organization. Fit Compass can also be used for employee development and career planning, team building, and team effectiveness.

Career Bull’s Eye: determines an employee’s level of engagement by assessing their purpose, passion and pay. It then helps business leaders identify where in the organization they need to focus by finding out causes of disengagement so it can make improvements and reduce turnover. It can also be used when onboarding new hires to ensure that they are engaged to avoid turnover. Results are shared during quarterly business reviews with the client. Both products are available as standalone services or can be bundled with other RPO service offerings.

Aon Hewitt provides RPO as both a part of its HR BPO offering and as a standalone service. Aon Hewitt’s RPO business has been growing globally as well. Examples include its HR BPO contract with BP where it provides RPO in North America and EMEA, and its recent contract award with a professional services company to provide RPO as a standalone service in EMEA and North America. Aon Hewitt has two new products that help organizations transform their hiring process:

  • SourceSprint
  • Digital interviewing capabilities.

SourceSprint: keeps applicants in a talent community for possible placement with other opportunities. Often when an organization fills a job requisition, other applicants are lost after the new hire comes on board. While the applicants may not have gotten the job they applied for, they may be good candidates for other opportunities. But, finding them again is problematic. SourceSprint changes that by using social media, optimization of search engines, and mobile communications to keep these prospects in a talent community. It remembers how applicants were originally found and their preferred communication.

Digital interviewing capabilities: improves the efficiency and experience of the hiring process for both candidates and hiring managers. Through its partnership with HireVue, Aon Hewitt clients can use the HireVue Digital Interview Platform to ask candidates scientifically validated questions that will ensure consistency and objectivity across interviews. Candidates then use a webcam to record their answers. Since it is not a live interview, candidates can respond from anywhere at their convenience, and hiring managers can watch and share the recorded interviews with colleagues anywhere.

Given these types of continuous innovative offerings, it’s no surprise to me that RPO has been rapidly growing as clients seek to attract, engage, and retain talent, while improving the efficiency of the recruitment process at the same time!

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EAPs: A Key to Increasing Workplace Productivity

January 10, 2012

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 out of 20 Americans were clinically depressed in 2005-2006. Since that period, economic conditions worldwide have worsened, the unemployment level has reached all-time highs, and foreclosure rates have skyrocketed. Frankly, I’m a little bit frightened to check an updated statistic on depression.

You might be thinking that those individuals who have managed to maintain their jobs at this time would be grateful. But, the truth of the matter is that the glass is quite often viewed as half empty. There are many reasons why employees suffer from mental health issues. However, instead of just identifying the source of the problem, employers should focus on offering a solution that is known to improve mental health and therefore lead to increased productivity.

That solution is Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). In 2011, Morneau Shepell conducted a study on EAPs that had two interesting findings for HRO buyers and suppliers:

  • Decreased productivity and absence costs employers ~$20,000 per year per employee
  • EAP intervention resulted in a 34% reduction in costs related to lost productivity.

With HR departments outsourcing processes such as payroll to focus on more strategic activities while obtaining best-in-class practices, EAPs as an activity has long been a prime candidate for outsourcing as well. After all, many EAP issues are sensitive in nature and employees may hesitate to seek help if there’s a chance that their confidentiality could be breached.

Two HRO providers that include an EAP offering are Ceridian and Morneau Shepell. While both companies conduct business in North America, Ceridian’s primary market is the U.S., while Morneau Shepell’s is Canada. These two providers are dominating their respective target markets due to a lack of competition from other HRO service providers, not to mention having extensive EAP offerings.

For example, Morneau Shepell already offers an EAP app and most recently launched online access for its EAP clients through its workhealthlife.com website, which allows clients to:

  • Confidentially request help on issues including health, family, work, financial, relationship, and legal support
  • Learn more about suggested EAP support services
  • Select the service and how it will be delivered.

Ceridian, on the other hand, provides services beyond common EAP offerings including aging parent counseling.

Outside North America, U.K. providers have also recognized the importance of wellness programs: Capita with its occupational health services offering and Vebnet with its health and well-being programs.

As an alternative to launching a full EAP offering, some HRO providers have implemented services to address hot topics including saving for retirement. Examples include:

  • Mercer’s self-service and decision support tools including its RetireTalk and Financial Engines Income+
  • Aon Hewitt’s recently launched advisory service for its defined contribution clients.

However, the secret to a productive workforce is offering services that address work, life, and health issues. While saving enough for retirement is one possible source of the problem, there are many others that can be addressed with a full EAP offering.

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

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