People Analytics: An HR Manager's Tool To Create Value For Business

The use of people analytics in today’s digital world can help more companies to make workplaces better just like how it did for Google more than a decade back.


In 2011, tech giant Google launched Project Oxygen. It was an initiative driven by data at its core to find out the key traits that make a manager successful at the organisation. To arrive at a reasonable conclusion, the company used a combination of surveys and employee interviews. The intent was to gather and analyse performance data to pick behavioural traits that make managers shine in their role at Google.

From being a good communicator to empowering team members, the company was able to identify eight managerial traits that make for a good manager. The research not only proved to be a milestone in identifying top managers, but it also gave key insights into what makes an employee stick to an organisation. 

Data-Driven HR Practices Make Workplaces Better

As per a report, Google searches for the term 'employee experience' have increased by more than 130 percent but validated measurement tool to understand employee experience are disproportionately low in supply. The use of people analytics in today’s digital world can help more companies to make workplaces better just like how it did for Google more than a decade back.

The findings from project oxygen paved the way for several initiatives at Google keeping employees at the centre of its policy-making. From career development opportunities to extended maternity benefits, data proved to be the catalyst to transform the workplace for the better.  

An exercise undertaken to find the attributes of a high-performing HR manager, thus, gave insights to build and retain the workforce. And with managing people better at work, managing the company better becomes easy on most counts.

Top companies use data to optimise HR function

Not just Google, top companies globally use people and data analytics to optimise their HR practices. 

A company like Microsoft took data and people analytics a step further and went beyond measuring employee engagement to uncover the employee experience and introduced the concept of 'employee thriving.' 

"We did internal focus groups to really hear from our employees, in terms of what made them bring their best to work every single day.  And that's where we concluded that thriving was that higher bar that we were after", he was quoted as saying by David Green in a podcast for Myhrfuture.

In this interview with Green, Dawn Klinghoffer, Microsoft's Head of people analytics also explains how data helped him and his colleague to add more value to the diversity and inclusion space. Employee data after all is a crucial cog in the wheel when it comes to understanding employee demographics. This particularly helps in identifying patterns of bias and underrepresentation in the workforce, if any, and bringing lego blocks together.

People analytics fosters better relationships at work

People analytics is not just about driving better HR practices, it helps in building better relationships at work. Take, for instance, a company like IBM which uses artificial intelligence and predictive analysis to gauge employee sentiment and overall happiness. According to a report, their predictive model is so accurate that it can tell about the employees who are going to quit in the next six months. As a consequence, it helps the company to formulate a strategy for retaining or finding a timely replacement.

The model scans through large chunks of data to measure employee sentiment and HR managers use the findings to focus on areas where the company can improve its HR practices. 

For example, if the sentiment analysis points out that employees are not satisfied with their reporting managers, the feedback is taken into consideration. The company, accordingly, decides to take the next course of action. Whether to come up with a training program or work on steps to improve the communication or the work equation is as per the demand of the situation.

From Google to IBM, these corporations realise the value of HR decisions driven by data. When the human capital of any company is managed well, value creation for the business as a whole becomes incidental in the process. A productive workforce is not only an asset for the company but happy employees become a part of a positive brand story.

People Analytics: the gateway to change the HR perception

While the general perception in the Indian context is that of resistance to technology vis a vis the HR function, times are changing quickly in the new normal. With tech-savvy entrepreneurship gaining ground, people analytics is bound to become a part of managing people. Another unmissable incentive for HR managers to use data in their decision-making process is that it allows them to demonstrate the work they do. 

Backing HR work with data can be the starting point to leapfrog from being considered as a part of the support function to a value creator for the business.


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