I had a fun time riding shotgun to Kris Dunn yesterday on the Fistful of Talent Webinar titled, HR Moneyball: The FOT Bootstrapper Guide To Getting Started With Big Data, in which KD and I took a look at some the ways that HR/Talent pros can use Big Data and Business Intelligence approaches to raise their games and drive the adoption of so-called 'Data-driven HR' in their organizations.
Of the five 'Big Data' plays in the FOT playbook, I think the one that I dig the most was #3, an idea called 'Salary Cap Utilization'. The basic idea is this - take a play from the world of sports leagues like the NBA and NFL that force teams to operate under a set of rules that govern maximum total player compensation, (the 'Cap'), and apply it inside your organization.
I know what you are saying, that we already do that, it's called the Annual Salary Budget. We've been managing compensation that way forever. Each budget holding group or manager is allotted 'X' amount of dollars he/she can 'spend' on total comp for the year and they (probably subject to a dozen other HR rules around increase percentages, salary bands, etc.), have to sort out how that salary budget is allocated among their staffs.
But chances are you are placing an additional, and probably unnecessary constraint on your managers as well - something called the full-time equivalent (FTE) budget.
The FTE budget tells managers that in addition to the maximum amount of $$ you can spend on comp (The Salary Cap), there is some (kind of arbitrary) maximum number of headcount that you can spend your Salary Cap on, i.e., the FTE budget.
When I first moved into an HR role, managing the HR systems at a mid-sized company, and first encountered the acronym FTE, I had to ask someone to explain it to me, as I had never seen it before. It seemed like a made-up kind of a construct, especially when you have to spend time breaking down and trying to convert worker schedules into their 'full-time' equivalents. And what, really, is 'full-time' anyway? That too, is kind of an arbitrary measurement to some degree.
But $$ are not arbitrary and are not subject to interpretation or manipulation. Everyone understands what a dollar-based budget means.
What are the advantages of dropping the FTE budget/constraint from your playbook?
1. It gives leaders/managers more autonomy on how they allocate compensation across teams. Instead of operating under the dual constraints of 'heads' and $$, they simply have to make it work within the Cap. Need to makes some big changes to reinvent their department? Make it work under the Cap. Want to expand into something new? What can you give up to stay within the Cap? Have 5 all-star, 'A' players that need to get paid or they will walk out the door? Then pay them, just be ready to make the cuts elsewhere to remain within the Cap.
2. It forces the organization to be more flexible. The overwhelming tendency in an FTE-influenced budgeting scheme is for managers to guard 'their' FTEs like grim death. Have a position sit open or vacant for too long and managers will scramble to fill it with just about anyone, just so they don't 'lose' that precious FTE in the next budgeting cycle. Have a solid employee that wants to transfer out to a role in a different department? A role that might better suit their skills and enhance their career development? Better be willing to give up an FTE buddy to make that happen.
3. It allows HR pros to be more consultative and progressive when talking about things like merit increases, equity increases, offers above salary band maximums, counter-offers, retention bonuses, and most everything related to comp. Remove that FTE constraint and now more of the comp game is open for discussion and adaptation. HR is working with the business around what is important to the business - the relative cost of performance and how to get the most production from available resources. HR can now be in the game of reporting/advising on Salary Cap Utilization instead of counting up heads, something that in most instances does not really matter.
We had a few other Big Data plays that we shared in the Webinar that were pretty neat as well (Hiring Manager batting average, turnover prediction, Health Care claims per capita), but for me eliminating the FTE might be the simplest and easiest one to get started with.
Have a great weekend!