ROI of Talent - HR's Biggest Opportunity

I had the pleasure of sitting down with senior talent leaders from some of North America's best regarded brands yesterday morning – from all different industries - and had 90 minutes of deep discussion about data-driven HR.

What a fantastic start to my day.

While we talked about numerous topics, the common thread was that these executives wanted more information – not for HR’s sake – but for the business.


More information to drive business outcomes. To create talent programs that matter. To ensure HR is focused on the bottom line.

David Wexler, who has run HR in some of the coolest of companies in the world (EA SPORTS gets a nod), asked me (I paraphrase)…“what metrics/information etc. are leading companies looking for today when it comes to talent analytics”?

My answer may surprise you. Predicting which top sales rep will leave you for the competition – nope. Predicting which candidate will be your next VP Operations – nope.

My answer was, in my opinion, as bread-and-butter as you can get – ROI.


Return on Investment

Ubiquitously used across the business from Finance to Sales to Marketing to Operations with roots back to the great DuPont dynasty of the early 1900s….it answers a fundamental question - if we spend x on y, what will we get from it in return?

Sound like a conversation with your CEO? Your CFO? Line of business lead?

Yup. Exactly.

The measure of ROI is absolutely critical in everything we do in an organization – as there are finite funds to achieve your organization’s purpose.  Priorities exist and ROI is the king (no pun intended) when it comes to helping decipher which way to go.

HR is no different. And what’s crazy is you have the data right at your fingertips (well, maybe locked away in numerous systems and if that’s the case, I’ve got some other ideas for you).

I would argue that HR is the most underutilized business capability when it comes to ROI. And erasing some of the historical factors around why we haven’t embraced it yet, this is actually good news.

In fact, it’s brilliant news because there is so much value, and ability to make progress and achieve many of the things HR has been talking about for the 20 years I’ve been involved.


Adopt ROI for your Talent decisions and you will WOW.

Karen O’Leonard, who is Bersin by Deloitte’s Talent Analytics lead thinker in this area, recently wrote about HR Executives making the CFO their BFF. I couldn’t agree more – as when HR data and business and financial data are connected, things change – and in a very positive way.

So, you want to make more progress? Want to drive a more relevant conversation with your business? Drive towards some measures of ROI on your Talent programs and investments.


Try these for size

  • What’s the opportunity cost of unfilled seats in revenue generating positions?  If we invest more in a different Talent Acquisition process, could we fill these roles faster and ultimately add to the top- and bottom-lines.
  • What’s the return on investment for our new Sales Leader Development Program?
  • What’s the return on investment of delivering on the VP Sales request of hiring 10 more inside sales reps?


The beauty is that there are endless scenarios of ROI – you just need to figure out what’s juicy for your executive peers, unpack the people-side of that opportunity and just get started.

And if you need some supercharging, give me a call.



Interested in learning more?  

Hear from the experts how leaders in mid-market companies can accelerate their analytics capabilities by downloading the  Bersin by Deloitte Webinar:  Unlock the Potential of Talent Analytics in Mid-Market Companies.  

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