5 questions with Raleen Gagnon: Why workforce data analysis is vital to business success

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This week, we talked with Raleen Gagnon, General Manager and VP of Total Talent Intelligence at Magnit Global and guru of data intelligence analytics about staffing and hiring. She will be hosting an interactive discussion at 1 p.m. ET Oct. 27. Mark your calendars for this fascinating and informative event.

Gagnon said of the event that it’s an opportunity to talk about today’s workforce dynamic. “I hope that everyone finds some piece of information that they weren’t aware of or they’re potentially missing something that they’re doing, to take advantage of more effective ways to engage, attract and retain talent, because what companies have been doing, historically, is not working. I hope everyone walks away reprioritizing the workforce consideration and the decisions and discussions that they’re having,” she said.

Here are the 5 questions we asked her.

1. What are you excited about in your new job?

Gagnon: It’s unfolding new opportunities and new challenges. When you start a new position, when you start even new responsibilities within an organization or a new project, it’s finding out what you don’t know. Right now, every project, every role is designed with a set of known objectives, but it isn’t until you actually step in that you understand what the true potential is. I’m all about that new challenge and the new opportunity. More specifically in my position, it’s the type of data. For the past decade, I feel as though companies in every industry have talked about big data, data lakes and data farms, and it’s all about data intelligence and data analysis. Yet, no one has really defined what excellence in those areas looks like. In every organization I’ve ever spoken to, there’s data they have, there’s data they need, that they don’t build or develop or acquire. My passion, data and intelligence, is a constant challenge because there is no end – it’s an infinite challenge. There’s always more data that will refine and add precision and add access and build the strategy and enhance the performance. 

An image of Raleen Gagnon

Photo courtesy of Raleen Gagnon

[My background is in data] but from an analytical perspective, looking at large groups of data and understanding better how to drive corporate strategy or workforce strategy. How to drive the direction, identify or quantify which opportunities have the greater ROI, which challenges will have the greatest impact that need to be prioritized, and so across many companies, many sectors, there’s no end to the data that’s available. Accessing and analyzing it in the right way, so that you are truly looking at accurate analysis of data and then deriving insights through that. Data is only as useful as the insights you can derive from it.

2. What tech tools do you rely on the most?

Gagnon: So, so many. Internally within Magnit, we have the benefit of being able to access data that is coming from tools, enabling every single part of a workforce management process. So, everything from initial sourcing of data, to processing and screening of the candidate, to management of the workers in the workforce data, to oversight and monitoring of the compensation data in the marketplace to ensure competitive pay, and then offboarding compliance, and so we have proprietary tools within our business that allow us to see in a very comprehensive way all of the movement of people throughout these processes, but more importantly than that … an organization should never rely solely their data. We as an organization should target third-party data when necessary to understand what’s changing in employment legislation, what is changing in unique external data to stay on top of cost-of-living, increases in taxation changes and things like that. 

3. What books have you read lately that keep you current in your job?

Gagnon: “The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter,” by Michael D. Watkins. “The First 90 Days” is a book that helps you to focus your tasks and priorities, make sure that you not only check the boxes, but look for the boxes as you go through that in a new position. I don’t think it matters what position you’re moving into when you’re going through a change. If you don’t recognize that there is an unknown, you’re never going to discover what’s there. It’s not the first time I read the book, but it’s a good reminder of the structure from that regard. Other than that, I don’t always find books to be the most instructive. I read a ton of articles on LinkedIn. There are thought leaders in data science or thought leaders in workforce management or thought leaders in government that I find meaningful to track on a daily basis, coming out on a daily basis to see what’s changing because as you see what’s happening in the market around you, you need to start paying attention to determine if you have the right data set or field, looking at the data from the right perspective in the moment and being relevant to decisions that need to be made.

4. How do you get buy-in from stakeholders in your position?

Gagnon: Understand what their needs and priorities are and then align what it is that you’re trying to accomplish and what you need from them. In order to gain their approval or their investment, you have to align that to what their priorities and their needs are. And if you don’t have a value proposition to offer to them, then they’re not going to see the value proposition you’re trying to achieve. That alignment is critical. And you know, people need to be convinced it was their idea. But more often, the baseline is that you need to convince them that this is an idea worthy of their time.

5. Where do you see your industry headed in the next three to five years?

Gagnon: I think this is my favorite question that people are constantly asking. I’m in the staffing industry, and what’s happening in my opinion does not get the attention it deserves among the other industries that make headlines every day. You know, I feel that the bigger focus is on areas in science and technology, and what people sometimes forget is that the staffing industry helps each of those industries with their goals, more specifically since COVID, the workforce has become the forefront of headlines across the globe. The impact to the workforce in the past couple of years has been astronomical and has been pervasive in every industry. No industry has been untouched by workforce challenges with turnover and changes to workforce needs. And it’s the staffing industry that supports every business globally in making sure that they have the information and the resources that they need to achieve their objectives. The chief human resources officer is often the one who’s brought in to figure out how to modify the workforce model or plan to meet business strategic goals. Today, workforce is recognized as a critical factor of success. It’s one of the largest expenditures on any spreadsheet and on any profit and loss, and it’s one of the largest success factors in whether or not a business and initiatives or an operation is successful. If you don’t have the people, you’re not achieving results. So, the staffing industry is becoming pivotal in every way. I see my industry to be the leading industry because businesses should be making a decision based on the workforce model, based on workforce dynamic, and not trying to retrofit people into their plan.

If you know a tech leader in Fast Future country you’d like to see in this space, send an email to Lisa@Fast Futuremediagroup.com.

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