Understanding Your Workforce With People Analytics

HOST: Harry Glaysher (partner at The Greenroom Group).

GUEST: Sarah Andresen.

Harry: Good evening everybody and welcome to The Greenroom Group webinar. Today’s objective is to learn how to listen to our workforces so that we can better understand our workforce. We look to achieve this by learning specifically about People Analytics. The reason why we would like to learn about People Analytics is so that we can align our procedures and policies with our workforces sentiment to improve employee experience. By improving employee experience we hope to improve overall business performance. So today we have brought in HR expert Sarah Andresen, Sarah is an HR expert in many HR verticals, but in specific, People Analytics. Sarah, welcome.

Sarah : Thank you Harry, and thank you for having me today, welcome to our audience, I hope you will enjoy and learn from some of the data and talking points today.

Harry: What is People Analytics? 

Sarah : People Analytics can be defined as a deeply data-driven and goal focused method of studying all people/HR related processes, functions, challenges, and opportunities with the goal of achieving business results. Its the application of the principles of data science to People/HR data. The extraction of actionable knowledge directly from people data through a process of hypothesis formulation and hypothesis testing within the context of achieving an organization’s business goals and strategy.

Harry: Now that everybody understands People Analytics a little more, we are going to run a quick pol to gather some regional data, we will give you all 1 minute to answer.

Have you, or your company, adopted People Analytics into your/ their current talent management strategy?

Yes: 14%

No: 29%

Planning to: 29%

First time hearing about People Analytics: 29%

Harry: Why is People Analytics important for companies right now? 

Sarah: People analytics has been a hot topic for HR and people leaders for the last 5-7 years. In 2018, 80% of CHROs globally listed people analytics as one of their most important initiatives. However, only 17% were at the highest two levels of maturity according to a Bersin by Deloitte global people analytics maturity study. Reaching the highest levels of maturity in people analytics is a long and ongoing journey. However, companies especially smaller ones do not need to reach these levels of maturity to gain benefits from people analytics.

Harry: How has COVID 19 changed the workplace and the workforce experience? 

Sarah: COVID 19 is greatly accelerating the trends in remote and flex working for many companies. Companies with less remote working (10% or less) before the crisis have reported decreases in productivity (over 40%) compared to companies with pre-crisis high rates of remote working were productivity is increasing. Blind, which anonymously polls technologists about their experiences, found that 73 percent of respondents were reporting burnout in May, far above the 61 percent who felt burnout in mid-February. Some 19 percent of respondents said that fears over their job security were at the root of their burnout, while slightly more (20.5 percent) said that they had an unmanageable workload. Another 10 percent said that they felt they had no control over their work. A similar study found 68% of organizations say their employees report experiencing higher anxiety levels than normal (Willis Towers Watson).

Harry: How is the workforce experience expected to change moving forward?

Sarah: The shift to remote and flex working is predicted to continue for most companies. According to a recent survey by Gartner 82% of organization will let employees work remote at least some of the time, 47% all of the time. Others are considering flex hours, flex days, etc.

Harry: What are the benefits to companies of using People Analytics?

Sarah: Research has repeatedly shown companies with higher levels of people analytics maturity are able to achieve better business results.

Do not miss the boat! Companies who leverage people analytics to improve the workforce experience can: attract, engage, and retain better talent. Companies that do not have this insight are at risk of competitive disadvantage for their business.

Harry: What can companies do right now to improve the visibility of their workforce?

Sarah: Pulse surveys are a critical tool in today’s crisis. Real time data on employee engagement to measure your employee experience. Expand beyond your standard engagement questions to ensure you are monitoring new and changing factors of the employee experience. Companies need both push and pull methods of gathering anonymous feedback from employees to determine what is working well and what is not. When working remotely communication becomes more difficult both within reporting lines and between team members.

Recommended pulse questions: Source Gallup. Understand how coronavirus disruptions are affecting your employees. Use these Gallup-developed pulse questions to make sure you’re meeting the needs of your workers.

  • My leadership has a clear plan of action.
  • I feel well prepared to do my job.
  • My supervisor keeps me informed about what is going on.
  • My organization cares about my well-being.
  • Over the past 24 hours, have you been practicing social distancing?

Harry: Can you share your recommendations for how a company can get started with pulse surveys?

Sarah: There are many options available to companies for surveying employees from a technology perspective. Many core HR/People systems include the functionality to survey employees and there are many specialty providers. If your company is already using an engagement survey vendor, they may be able to offer pulse surveys as well. There are specific vendors who specialize in Engagement pulse surveys like Culture Amp or Tiny Pulse. There are also very low-cost options you can use such as Survey Monkey. A few things to keep in mind when surveying employees

  • Surveys should always be anonymous. Research has repeatedly shown employees do not feel comfortable providing candid feedback when surveys are not anonymous.
  • Communication about the survey process is key. Employees need to understand why you are surveying them, why it is important that they provide feedback, their feedback is anonymous, and how the data will be used. After the surveys are completed and results analyzed you need to close the loop with employees and let them know that you are going to act based on their feedback. Asking is not enough, you need to act on the results

Harry: How can a company incorporate people analytics into their HR/People process and strategy in today’s crisis?

Sarah: Be agile! Many people functions are learning from the startup world and adapting the Lean Startup development process- Build Measure Learn- as an approach to process improvement. This process is a simplification of the scientific method and is essentially what data scientist use.

  • Build: New HR/People processes, programs, learning, etc.
  • Measure: Define success measures and use people analytics to measure the impact of your new process, program, learning, etc.
  • Learn: Understand what works and what does not and modify your new process, program, learning, etc. accordingly

For example: A tech company I worked with was having issues with turnover of critical talent segments in their India office. They reviewed their exit interview data and discovered due to cultural differences their UK career model was not meeting their Indian employees’ expectations for feedback and career progression.

  • Build: They revised their performance review process and career levels to address these issues
  • Measure: They measured employee satisfaction and intent to stay with the new model
  • Learn: They found that some elements of the new model were working well and some needed to be tweaked to further align with culture expectations.

In today’s crisis many companies are using this same model to test new ways of working, performance management, remote working, flex time policies, etc.

Harry: How can HR/People incorporate people analytics with managers and leaders in the company?

Sarah: Empower leaders and managers with data and insights so they can make better decisions. Leaders and managers need to have access to real time data so that they can make better decisions about their people and teams. Open your HR/People dashboards to senior leaders and managers and be more transparent. Start an open dialog with your employees and managers. Improving transparency across the organization improves trust between workers, managers, and leaders. Some of the most successful tech companies today, like Salesforce, are known for creating a culture of radical transparency.

Harry: We are now going to accept any questions the audience may have.

Audience question: How can you measure the maturity of people analytics?

Sarah: Great question. Several companies have published people analytics maturity models, for example Bersin by Deloitte, and you can use one of their simple guides to assess your own maturity. In general, you want to start with a high-quality data foundation and then build descriptive statistics on that foundation. For a small to mid-sized company you do not need to invest in hiring data scientists or buying predictive analytics technologies. You will find the most value in good data and insightful analytics

Audience question: Is COVID-19 changing how companies use people analytics?

Sarah: Yes, absolutely. With the rapidly changing nature of the crisis many companies are using people analytics more frequently and investing more time in developing real time solutions. The old cadence of reporting people analytics once a month or once a quarter is quickly being replaced with near real time reports and analysis.

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