To Win the Skills War, Forget Job Silos, says PTC’s Hallie Bregman
The last 18 months proved that strong HR leadership is needed more than ever. In this profile series, we celebrate the HR Super Leaders that led their organizations through tough times by harnessing their HR superpowers—daring, vision, empathy, strategy, and connection—and proving that anything is possible when you put your people first. Learn more about the other HR Super Leaders and take our quiz to find out which one is yours!
Hallie Bregman is the Global Head of People Analytics at PTC, a software technology company that serves the industrial manufacturing space. Hallie shares how understanding customer behavior helps her in the HR space, what her return to work strategy has been like, and why she’s no longer thinking about skills as jobs in silos.
Hallie Bregman shares how her team at PTC used people data to understand how employees experienced the transition to remote work and developed their return to work strategy.
During the pandemic, many organizations scrambled to enable remote-first policies. Did PTC experience the same strain?
Interestingly, PTC already had a distributed workforce. We’ve got about 90 offices across the world and through analytics, we were able to engage in employee listening strategies to help understand how folks were experiencing this transition to remote first or remote only.
We’ve actually developed our return to work approach, in part by taking employee feedback into effect and really understanding the employee experience qualitatively.
How are you using those insights to develop your return to work strategy?
We were really able to access and uplift folks outside of our Boston headquarters, who previously felt like they weren’t necessarily in the center of the conversation. We surveyed several times, asking folks how they were feeling about returning to the office. And early views were, “Well, we really like remote, but we might want to come back.” But as time went on employees—the majority far and away—wanted more flexibility in their work.
And so we are rolling out a policy. Our CEO has been very vocal about the need to return to some in office presence. We will still have a percentage of our employees based remotely. But their feedback really helped drive a shift from one day a week remote pre-pandemic to 2-3 days a week remote post-pandemic.
Have there been other benefits to the focus on employee feedback?
We think about employee-first and the employee relationship quite a bit. And so we want that employee voice as part of what we’ve crafted and want them to co-create solutions with us. We have very cross-functional discussions about this.
One of the key philosophies that I’ve implemented is that everyone has a seat at the table. When I think about the insights that we share, I say that everyone sees something and some people see everything. And that means that every single employee in our company has a right to access and the accessibility to understand what’s going on in our people as a business.
That’s a great philosophy to have!
Yes, I care deeply about human behavior and inclusivity. I started my career by getting a PhD in Psychology, and then pivoted and became a data scientist. And so I spent many years thinking about the customer behavior on the product and marketing side of things before I really learned about people analytics. And instantly, it was a brilliant connection between my passion for people and human behavior and my love for data.
With resignations at unprecedented levels, how does data help you tackle this issue?
We’ve been able to use Visier to have quick access to insight like annualized turnover rate, which is much more representative of in-the-moment trends. That view is quick and at our fingertips, and people have been able to really react and tell stories with that. Going all the way back to our leadership, as we think about, “Should we be putting incentive programs into place? Should we be thinking about recognition? Or do we feel comfortable with the place that we’re going?” We’ve been able to really drive that and make quick decisions.
What are you and your team focusing on for the foreseeable future?
So we think a lot about skills and with the shortage of talent, we really want to take advantage of the people that we have. How can we lean into skills and projects as opposed to jobs in silos?
We want to be able to take people who are in one role and say, “You have the skill. Here’s a great project that you could take advantage of and lean into that skill.” That provides development opportunities for our employees. That certainly provides advantages to the business in terms of efficiencies since we don’t have to go out and externally recruit. It helps us retain our talent and helps us use folks more effectively.
Visier imagined five HR superpowers that guided leaders through the last 18 months. What’s your superpower, Hallie?
My superpower is strategy. And I think it fits quite well. I definitely am someone who thinks high-level and in the details, especially when I’m thinking about adoption and change management in our transformation space. I quite often strategize around what we’re going to do—what are the pieces that are going to fall into place?—and how we’re going to get to our long-term vision.
What happens when HR pros lack that strategy superpower?
When HR professionals lack the strategy power, you get stuck in the 1980s or the 1990s and the way HR was done then. I think really being a strategic partner is a much newer muscle for HR professionals and is still in the process of being built. But I think it’s moving in that direction and about making sure that HR is engaging in things like upskilling, tying things to consultative partnerships with their business stakeholders, and ensuring they’re understanding business questions.
When it comes to developing a hybrid workforce strategy, how can people analytics help?
People analytics can really help companies make a hybrid workforce successful by providing in-the-moment, relevant, top of mind insights and trends on employee experience. Hybrid is only going to be successful if employees feel connected and work is getting done efficiently and agilely. Visier has all of that information in one place so I can go in and be able to answer a lot of big picture questions on how employees are feeling, doing, experiencing, and performing without needing to use really deep analytic tools.
Lastly, what is your favorite comic book superpower?
I have talked for years about how I dream of wanting to teleport. I have family and friends all over the country and the world, and I really just wish that I could snap my fingers, go see them, and then snap my fingers and come home and sleep in my bed. I would love that travel time back, but the ability to see people and see places everywhere I could.
Meet the rest of our HR Super Leaders and find out your HR superpower, by visiting visier.com/hr-leaders
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