To build an extraordinary workplace

19 march 2018

... you need to harness the power of analytics.
The world of work is undergoing an unprecedented revolution. The who, what and why of the workplace is changing forever and nobody wants to be left behind. HR has a key role to play in designing agile organisations and in adopting new ways of working. That’s why HRcoreLAB was initially designed, bringing together HR professionals to stay on top of the latest developments in HR Agility, Employee Experience, People Analytics, Employer Branding, HR Trends, Big Data, artificial intelligence, talent- and leadership development,...

And also this year - the 6th edition already, I went to Barcelona to this cross-topic event with 3 streams: (1) the future of recruitment, (2) talent analytics, (3) HR agility. Lesley, Sofia and Sigrun from the #HRbuilders #dreamteam where all eager to connect with great HR people from 43 different countries.

Again #HRcoreLab was filled with inspiring content, interesting connections and energizing talks including a great HRdinner in the beautiful city of Barcelona. Our team met seasoned HR professionals, all top industry experts such as An Rycek, global workforce planning manager at Cisco, Stijn De Vries, SWP & HR metrics lead at ABN AMRO, Georgina Yellowlees, Director TA WW ops Amazon, Yewande Oni, data scientist and analytics manager Unilever, Kim Wylie, global head of customer change and culture at Google, Alberto Platz, VP global TA Swarovski, Martin Betz, HR automation and innovation Deutsche Telekom, Gusta Timmermans, global head TA ING, ..

For the upcoming weeks we will be sharing with you some take aways on #HRCoreLab, for every week a different stream and we will start with the analytics stream.

Feel free to share your experiences with analytics...

Identifying, framing, and successfully deploying analytics solutions to solve workforce challenges

It’s clear that the analytics revolution is gaining momentum.

Most companies are convinced analytics is a high priority and the number of business leaders that are increasing their analytics capabilities to meet business and talent needs is snowballing rapidly. Our #dreamteam attended various sessions in the analytics stream to learn how leading companies are embedding analytics into their workforce management processes and operations. They no longer see analytics as a function focusing on the core HR processes of recruitment, development or retention, they have extended that focus to business issues such as workforce effectiveness, health and safety, sales productivity with great success.

We are barreling along toward the collision between Big Data,
Analytics, and the successful acquisition,
development, and retention of people in our organizations.

HR analytics? Workforce analytics? Talent analytics? People analytics?

So let’s start with the basics: what is talent analytics, how do you create sustainable value for the organisation, and which skills are needed.

People analytics is a mental framework for systematically identifying the people drivers
of organisational outcomes to realize sustainable value for the organisation

It starts with a good question #Duh
People analytics starts with a good question! And although this sounds as a no-brainer, this is often not the case…

Correlation is not the same as causation #DuhAgain :-)
Most people have metrics in place, as well as benchmarks, scorecards and surveys but then they hit the wall of analytics maturity: their degree of analytics intelligence stops where the added value of analytics starts to increase. Metrics, benchmarks, scorecards and surveys is actually tracking, not analytics. Analytics is about correlation, causation and prediction. So in order to add value to the business, it is key to translate analytics into insights and then into actions.

Let's start and mature in Analytics

In the power of people, How Successful Organizations Use Workforce Analytics To Improve Business Performance, Jonathan Ferrar explains the 8 milestones and 3 phases in analytics:

(1) Why undertake the project:

  1. frame the business questions
  2. build hypotheses

(2) How should the project be carried out

  1. gather data,
  2. conduct analysis,
  3. reveal insights
  4. determine recommendations

(3) What will result from the project:

  1. get your point across,
  2. implement and evaluate

The Power of People appears to be a #mustread describing how to harness organizational capabilities using workforce analytics to predict what workers are most likely to do in the future and therefore how to impact business outcomes.

How to realize the potential of your workforce in order to create sustainable strategic success

Sjoerd Van den Heuvel mentioned 5 sustainability factors in his presentation:

  1. governance
  2. storytelling
  3. technology
  4. process (methodology)
  5. capabilities

(1) Governance: In ‘The rise and fall of HR analytics’ Sjoerd explores what the future of people analytics may look like revealing that the HR analytics function may very well be subsumed in a central analytics function, transcending individual disciplines such as marketing, finance, and human resource management.

Driven by the rapidly accelerating pace of technology-enabled developments within HR, people analytics is infiltrating the business agenda. Using a sample of 20 practitioners of HR analytics, based in 11 large Dutch organizations, he investigated what the application, value, structure, and system support of HR analytics might look like in 2025. And the findings suggest that, by 2025, HR analytics will have become an established discipline, will have a proven impact on business outcomes and will have a strong influence in operational and strategic decision making.

(2) In order to get your point across it is also key to visualize the outcome using storytelling. Another #mustread is ‘Storytelling with data, A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals’. It teaches the fundamentals of data visualization and how to communicate effectively with data.

Turn your data into high impact visual stories that stick with your audience.

(3) If you want to evolve beyond metrics, Sjoers suggests to use SPSS or SAS. Common HRIS such as workday, oracle, succesfactors don’t do analytics, they do metrics.

(4) In ‘Investing in people’, (yes, another #mustread) John Boudreau shows how to choose, implement, and use metrics to improve decision-making, optimize organizational effectiveness, and maximize the value of HR investments. Using the ''LAMP'' methodology (Logic, Analytics, Measures, and Process),he demonstrates how to measure and analyze the value of every area of HR that impacts strategic value.

(5) Now which capabilities do people analytics professionals you need to have in place? According to the HR analytics capability wheel (by Patrick Coolen) it’s about managing a balanced blend of legal and compliance capabilities, marketing intelligence, finance and IT capabilities. Be sure to read this great publish from David Green about his meet-up with Patrick Coolen.

People analytics professionals are T-shaped people: they need broad knowledge on the one hand and deep expertise on the other hand:

  • Broad knowledge: researcher, strategic advisor, technology innovator and normative professional (the ethic part!)
  • Deep specialization: people and organization expert. 

If companies want to get the right analytics capabilities in place,
they will need to attract T-shaped profiles.

broad knowledge

Strategic Workforce Planning Needs Robust People Analytics

That was the topic of the session, hosted by An Rycek, global workforce planning manager from Cisco who also joined our team for dinner that night in Barcelona. With over 72.000 employees, 480 global sites in more than 160 countries Cisco’s main challenges in order to succeed in today’s business and talent market environment are: (1) rapidly evolve business, (2) capture new business opportunities with greater speed, agility and new skills, (3) find out what people and candidates want from work, (4) provide on-demand insights to business leaders in order to help them make the right decisions, (5) create a high-performing agile workforce by aligning the right people to the right work at the right time in the best teams and (6) create a consumer-driven employee experience responsive to the unique needs of their people.

In order to succeed in creating such a consumer-driven employee experience these following questions have to be answered on 3 levels:

  1. individual: How can I build my skills and knowledge for career development? How can I find my next role at Cisco? How do I do my best work?
  2. team: How can I find talent with the right skills for my team? How do I get the best out of my team?
  3. team of teams: How can I understand my organizational health, the skills in my org and plan for my future needs?

And in order to be able to answer those questions we need data and insights:

First you need to define the critical roles driven by a company’s strategy. Using data a company can make informed decisions what the current state is. Using quantitative (headcount modelling: number of people working per location, per role,...) and qualitative data (skills mapping: do we have the right skills in place) the company can then define the gap analysis. Cisco piloted ‘my development space’ understanding the skills and expertise, finding customized training and discovering projects and new roles. The result was a clear view on the skills that were missing.

Now they are changing their approach because they want to simplify, using intelligent data. With ‘jobbuilder’ for instance they provided for every role a skills profile identifying top 10- 15 skills validated by market data. They also Share career information relevant to Cisco by creating an employee profile for people working at cisco. Instead of using different point of views and assumptions of current situations they now Focus on the same questions as their stakeholders. Instead of Rigid projects with outdated info and decisions, they switched to a more Agile method, with continuous delivery by listening continuously to their employees. Instead of their initial Competency model and assessments, cisco now uses job profiles, identifying unbiased tools for skills mapping to provide quality data and Use job profiles. And they made organization evolution an integrated part of business planning which would never have been possible without executive sponsorship

“While technology has incredible capability to be applied to do amazing things,
people come first, and this matters more than ever.”
 (Chuck Robbins Cisco, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer)

Customer experience meets employee experience

Stefan Hierl, global director people analytics Adidas is a digital profile who just recently joined HR to make HR more data savvy.

At Adidas they have replaced the engagement surveys by regular feedback using the adidas people pulse with one mission: create a high performing organization where the best talent wants to join and stay.

As they already were gathering real time feedback in their stores from customers, they decided to use the same approach with their employees - after all, the expertise and knowledge needed to install such a process was already inside the company. They started with a pilot for their knowledge workers (approximately 25000 people)

Using only one key metric, NPS, adidas launched monthly pulses in general and on specific topics in a 6 months cycle always with just 3 questions to answer.

What did they learn:

  • Systematic measurement allows to drive progress on intangible culture topics making people topics measurable.
  • Open text questions analysed by text analytics provided meaningful actionable insights providing.
  • Providing rea ltime access to the feedback for employees, stakeholders and leaders empowers the organisation.
  • Focus on employee NPS as the lead metric is consistent with their approach for Consumer NPS and makes it simple.
  • Putting focus on strategy and topics comes with a clear trigger to action.
  • And the open approach and frequent cadence allows to adapt to changing needs of the organisation and makes the company agile and adaptable.
  • They are now expanding this approach of employee experience management to the entire retail staff (30000 people). They are using conversational Interfaces replacing forms for capturing feedback.

By installing employee experience management, adidas enables consumer centricity, attracts and retains top talent, improves the employee engagement and decision making.

Wrapping it all up:


  • Listening to what employees tell you and acting on it distinguishes 'average HR' from 'HR excellence.'
  • New analytical capabilities means HR can discern what people are telling by their actions rather than what they say they would do.
  • Using analytics can improve your bottom line.
  • In order to stay ahead of the curve companies need to build, refine, or fundamentally improve their HR Analytics and attract expertise to help them.
  • HR has to become more tech-savvy and analytics-savvy.

There were lots of best & next practices to learn from at Teneo, but of course copy-paste does not work. Better to copy- adapt - paste.

It will be a slow journey but if you want to build an extraordinary workplace, you will need to harness the power of analytics.

See you next week!



HRCoreLab in Barcelona



Comments on this article

Thanks for the excellent overview. We (collectively) also need to realize that Analytics may require quite some upskilling in our own HR Dept. Happily there will be some psychologists among our colleagues, and they will have acquired the basis during their academic studies (not all of them liked it, though). For the others getting into it far enough (yes, I think all of us should reach a decent level) that may represent a significant learning curve. With data as natural resource, knowing how to handle it becomes a basic skill...

19 maart 2018 by Jos Blykers

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