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Measured to fit the market

A LOCAL business has developed a qualitative measurement tool to determine the effectiveness of companies’ people strategies.

Nexus Strategic Solutions, with assistance from researchers from the University of Western Australia, has designed a research model that gives qualitative results instead of the quantitative measures used by most organisations. The model allows a business to understand exactly where its strengths and weaknesses lie in managing its people.

According to the Department of Conservation and Land Management’s manager of People Services, Cliff Gillam, the Nexus research model allows users to gain a better understanding of a business’s HR practices.

“The reality is, quantitative measures don’t tell you much about your competitive ability,” Mr Gillam said.

“This tool identifies a practice we’re not doing that we could be doing and we take that on board and determine what we need to do. In 12 months’ time we will do another data collection to determine if those strategies have been successful.”

UWA Graduate School of Management researcher Renu Burr said the measurement tool used specific key indicators to assess a business’s people-management strategies.

“HR used to be very functional, but over the past 10 to 15 years, it has become very strategic,” she said.

“We designed this research model with clients and identified research areas. Most companies know what they are doing but lack clarity.

“We look at business goals and strategic goals and identify whether the HR systems are aligned.”

Department of Land Administration Human Resources manager Meg Somers said that, while she found this research helpful, she would still use quantitative measures.

“You still need to do quantitative studies because it gives you a dollar figure,” she said.

“This research (Nexus model) focuses more on the HR branch and its philosophy and how that is impacting on the staff. It gave more credibility to anecdotal evidence we had.

“What it can give you is ammunition to talk to senior management and it gives you more backing than ‘the staff are saying this’.”

The Department of Land Administration and The Department of Conservation and Land Management were among nine government agencies to trial the project.

They will undergo a similar data collection process to determine if their HR strategies to address weaknesses have been effective, and to monitor changes in employee attitudes.

Although the first use of this measurement tool has been by government departments, Nexus Solutions director Maxinne Sclanders said the tool could be applied to any business.

“As long as we have a project manager or point of contact to work with, we can conduct the research,” she said.

“I don’t think there is anything like this research available because people are only now starting to realise its importance. You don’t get numbers and figures and not a lot of people are comfortable with that, but if people perceive something is happening that’s just as much the reality.”

She said Nexus Strategic Management was looking to apply its research to businesses overseas, particularly Singapore.

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