Features | 01.21.2019

People Analytics Powers Mindful, Collaborative Workplaces

How tech promotes positive and rewarding employee experiences

This article was published on at the first.

Most of us spend 40 to 50 hours or more each week at work. In the Knowledge Economy, since much of the work we do is of a digital nature, work and other elements of our daily lives tend to converge. In the ten-minute break in between meetings, a parent may call to check on a child in daycare, or an elderly family member, phone in a prescription, or schedule a dentist appointment. By the same token, when a deadline looms, an employee may work after “normal work hours” in the evening or over the weekend, to ensure project completion.

It’s a yin and yang scenario, and one most employees appreciate in order to make work-life balance manifest – and also one that’s hard to imagine without technologies such as the Internet, mobility and the cloud.

In this same vein, technology is today being used to remove barriers and frustrations to ensure employees can work better, smarter and more efficiently.

For years, companies have used data and analytics to develop uber refined engines to track candidates and recruit the best talent. But today the use of analytics is being expanded to one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today – employee retention and engagement.

Combating Employee Flight Risk: Employee Experience is Critical

A new Gartner study – the firm’s quarterly Global Talent Monitor — found only 53 percent of workers worldwide plan to stay in their current jobs. Researchers attribute U.S. workers’ willingness to be more proactive in their job searches to strong economic conditions and a hot job market.

This scenario is causing organizations to work harder to ensure the employee experience is both fulfilling and rewarding. Says Dan Fries, senior vice president and managing director of Sibson Consulting, a human capital consulting firm, “…the Employee Value Proposition is now more of an exchange, emphasizing the shift from an almost paternalistic, ‘This is what we will give you to come to work here,’ to ‘This is the “deal” where you as an employee have options, a career and life advantages. In exchange, we as the employer receive your best work.’ Fries says, there is an underlying message of working together — partially driven by the tight job market and partially driven by what new generations of employees are looking for.

To develop a strong Employee Value Proposition, organizations must take real and substantial steps toward evaluating and improving the employee experience at work.

Free pizza on Fridays or discounted gym membership is not effectual. It is the nature of the work activity that must be improved – not the ancillary elements around it. While organizations have embraced the data-driven organization, we must move to the next echelon — the employee-driven organization. To create the employee-driven organization organizations must capture and leverage employee-driven data.

Using Analytics to Deconstruct the Employee Experience

Advanced people analytics measures and analyzes the digital output generated by individual and workgroup activity. Software automates the collection of the digital signals that an employee emits when using technology and systems, and combines them with analytics that equips senior executives with reporting and analysis.

People analytics seeks to understand work from the employee’s perspective: What do employees have to deal with on a day-to-day basis to do their work, and do they have the right tools, the right amount of collaboration, and a conducive and supportive work environment free from distractions to do it? People analytics takes into account work patterns on a day-by-day, or even minute-by-minute, basis.

For the individual employee, people analytics can identify what takes the focus away from high priority work and identify practices that harm efficiency such as multitasking. For managers, the data can be helpful to understand and mitigate workload issues by better allocating work and staffing.

HR leaders can now take into account employee work pattern data into the elements of performance evaluation, leadership development, hiring and promotion, job design, and compensation. This transforms HR from subjective to objective and changes the dynamic from oversight (hierarchical) to collaborative. All people policies and processes now revolve around the intersection of employees and work.

Demystifying People Analytics

There’s one aspect that stands in the way of realizing the employee-driven organization: Misconceptions around people analytics abound. The most common being confusing people analytics with employee monitoring and surveillance.

In contrast to people analytics, employee monitoring and surveillance leverage technology to monitor the specifics of computer usage, voice communications (phone), and texts and emails – in many cases without employees’ knowledge. This monitoring is used to combat fraud, non-compliance, theft, and even workplace violence/harassment. However, from an employee’s perspective, these monitoring activities can feel intrusive and almost punitive – particularly because there’s seemingly no upside to the employee.

With people analytics, organizations have an opportunity to educate employees to reset expectations as to how technology helps create a mutually beneficial work environment. Organizations flourish when employees flourish. People analytics can help make both happen.

To this end, it’s important to ensure employees understand the technology doesn’t track keystrokes, specific web pages, or the content in email communications or text. It does track how employees spend their time at work – i.e. whether an employee was in a meeting, engaged in personal time, or using email or other business application. It tracks how work is done and measures overall output and effectiveness – creating a baseline so managers can collaboratively with employees to help set productivity goals – for teams and individuals.

Like a Fitbit for work, it gives employees the ability to quantify their time at work and even offers gamification to spur competition and to reward accomplishments, as well as built-in feedback loops, so employees can self-report when and if they are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. In this way, it can serve as an early warning detection system to guide employers in making changes necessary to address these issues – before a valued employee heads for the door. 

The workforce is changing as is its expectations for work as we know it. People analytics is unique in that the technology can help guide organizations to uncover the ups and downs and successes and failures that bolster and/or threaten the employee experience to inform proactive strategies to help shape the workplace and a winning Employee Value Proposition.

Author Bio       

Khiv Singh is Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing for Sapience Analytics, a vendor of “people analytics” solutions to help companies better organize and use employee time to be more efficient. Sapience Analytics technology is used by more than 120,000 users in over 85 enterprises across 18 countries to move the needle on employee engagement, organizational productivity, and business profitability.

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