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If you said to the senior leaders in your business today you can evidence that in three years time service levels will decline and the number of customer complaints is going to increase you’d have their interest.

If you then suggested you understand how a differing approach to attraction and selection, skills development and changes to the current operating models will mitigate this risk and enable greater business performance going forwards you’d not only have their interest but their attention and commitment.

If people are the enabler for any business to meet its objectives then the business needs to understand the current capabilities of those people – not just the quantity and core deliverables of their roles but their abilities, aspirations, qualities and motivation. We need to ensure we have the ability to provide people intelligence – taking information and understanding how this can be translated to deliver the right business solution – to support sustainable performance in an ever changing environment with organisations expecting to become ever more agile. Whether this is driven through external factors such as competition, regulation, the progressive digital arena or internal factors such as growth or organisational change, using people intelligence to future predict potential issues is where we can provide true insight for our organisations.

When we talk about management information there has always been the immediacy in thinking to look at absence trends, attrition, and diversity metrics. All critical information but this should really be about service, revenue and productivity – the challenge for us is to link all information available in the organisation to deliver strong, tangible and credible commercial focus, and there will be many practical examples available where we can all evidence we’ve achieved this.

Using business information and overlaying it with the people information may show our highest performing colleagues who excel in customer service generally have tenure of 10 years and may be part time. What if the insight then suggests that many are looking to take a lifestyle choice to retire in three to five years? We can understand the issue today for the teams outside of that demographic and how we motivate people to stay with the organisation as well as supporting the issue that could surface in the future – anticipating the need. This could see changes in assessment, benefits, reward and recognition practices or working patterns. Similar thinking can support the debate on why you’d encourage flexible working – higher engagement levels seen will see people want to deliver the best customer experience they can, lower tenure meaning they better understand risk and are motivated to be part of a successful team. Having an optimal working pattern can be very good for customers and therefore our business goals and we’ll work together with the business leaders to achieve aligned goals supported by the right level of information.

However, this practice of linking information, using analytics and interpreting all of the information is only half of the story. It needs the people in our own teams that understand the business, those real issues and priorities which can then be overlaid with people characteristics that truly make the data meaningful and add value. In order to translate people intelligence to powerful, impactful and meaningful results for our organisation we need to truly understand what the business is trying to achieve. We need to be curious, leverage our networks, be actively seeking and scanning for opportunities. In order to deliver with impact we need to be able articulate how our business is successful, we need to understand who our customers are and why they want to do business with us. We then need to measure the impact of what we do and ensure that our activities everyday are linked to our business goals.

The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing but by getting the right information combined with the right people using it we can move from just addressing remedial issues to really supporting people in achieving their best and maximising individual and organisational potential.

Marcus Lee is the Director of HR Business Partnering at Santander and will be speaking at the Successful HR Business Partnering Conference, join him at this event today!


Marcus is the Director for Business Partnering for Santander and a member of the People and Talent leadership team. Marcus joined Santander in 2008 and has held Business Partner roles across a diverse range of business areas as well as leading Resourcing and Talent for Santander in the UK. Marcus spent 10 years at JPMorgan in Business Partner and Development roles as well as Technology and Operations, Business Management and Finance. Prior to this his experience is within the Operations Management field at Deloitte and EDS.

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