British Army HR – A Critical Overview: Analyse
Modern technology permits a level of analysis that is unparalleled and civilian companies are using ‘Big Data’ to analyse their human resources as much as their productivity or market share. While HR analytics has a key role to play in the recruitment battle, the civilian HR market is moving from one which is content to rapidly ‘hire and fire’ individuals to one which is more focused on retaining the talent that already fits an organisation’s culture and it is the ‘retention analysis’ of the workforce that is dramatically increasing. This analysis is not only being used to identify talent, but also to diagnose ‘toxic employees’ through the use of social media feeds and even graphology.
Faced with a plethora of information, the raw data needs to be refined to provide intelligence that can be exploited. The Army is rightly focused on its operational output and developing leaders from its soldiers and officers, however there is an increasing demand for talent outside the traditional operational focus, especially for staff officers. The former policy of diversification of Career Field (CF) at SO2 level has encouraged officers to be ‘jacks of all trades’ or generalist officers, whose leadership skills have been able to mask a less developed professional knowledge. To counter this, the Army has led Defence’s move to evaluating individuals by their Knowledge, Skill and Experience (KSE) which will encourage a greater depth of talent. This data will enable the Army Personnel Centre (APC) to have greater awareness of the KSE gained in each employment and should permit a closer fit between an individual’s expertise and appointment. At the same time, the move to a new set of CF, will permit the new Career Field Sponsor Groups (CFSG) to articulate a career pathway for individuals through the acquisition of KSE that will encourage a greater level of professionalism from the bottom up, while permitting the CFSG to confirm that they have a depth of KSE within their CF to properly succession plan from the top down. Additionally, in development is the Potential and Suitability Assessment (PASA) project, which seeks to identify a more objective assessment of both CF suitability and potential on promotion to Major using a mix of psychometric and intelligence tests with interviews and written assessments. This objective data could be added to the more subjective AR book and strengthen the Army Personnel Centre’s boarding process.
According to research by Oracle, 68% of companies rely on ’simplistic annual surveys’ to determine staff engagement with only 37% using advanced data analytics. Deloitte found that 75% of companies believed that people analytics was important, only 8% believed that they were strong in that capability. The Services use a number of annual surveys such as the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS), the Reserves CAS (ResCAS) and Families CAS (FamCAS), whose longitudinal questions provide a good comparison of Service views over time. Additionally, Briefing Teams such as the Chief of the General Staff’s regularly gauge not only military but also civilian engagement with the Army, while the Military Secretary’s Briefing Team ensure that a military audience is kept up to date with military HR policy. While the Army is arguably strong in this respect, the lack of fusion of the different sources of intelligence could further enhance this strength and enable greater exploitation in the policy sphere.
Analytics, when linked to another identified HR trend – digitisation, has created a booming industry of companies offering new HR management of information systems. In 2017, over half the companies surveyed by Deloitte are already re-designing their HR programs to leverage digital and mobile tools and 33% of surveyed HR teams are using some form of artificial intelligence technology to deliver HR solutions. The replacement of both the military’s Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system and Civil Service’s Human Resource Management System (HRMS) offers the opportunity to exploit an ‘off the shelf’ system that could radically improve the analysis of manpower as well as simplify the HR experience.
The next article will consider how the British Army could simplify its HR processes.
 General Electronics analyse over 6 million data points in their talent management process, Deloitte 2016, p96.
 For example, the MOD’s Strategic Edge Through People 2040 (SETP2040) project is researching the feasibility of analysis tools that can provide information on an individual’s behaviours from their digital data.
 The new Career Fields are: Operations, Operations Support, Personnel, Capability & Acquisition, Management of Defence and Defence Engagement.
 Oracle Simply Talent: A Western European Perspective Measuring the Value of Employee Engagement, January 2016
 Deloitte 2016, p91.
 Deloitte 2017, p87.