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5 Ways Employee Experience Experts Use People Analytics

This article was jointly written by Visier team members Robert Sullivan, a Business Development Representative, and Joseph Honess, an Account Executive.

You’ve read Gallup’s statistics. Organisations with higher employee engagement have 22% higher profitability and 65% lower turnover. They have 10% better customer ratings and 21% higher productivity; 28% less shrinkage and 37% less absenteeism…The list goes on.

It’s little wonder employee experience (EX) has become such a huge focus area, as the journey powering that engagement (or not). 

“EX is a massive topic and very, very broad,” says Allen Hornung, Director, People Strategy, Insights & Experience at Enbridge, at our recent Outsmart summit. “How do you decide what to work on? Because if you’re starting out with a small team and all sorts of opportunities, you have to be selective about where you focus your efforts.”

At the recent HR of Tomorrow conference, we asked European CHROs and C-Suite leaders, as well as other HR executives, where they saw better people insights most improving the employee experience. They said:

  • Career pathing – 25%
  • Training and development – 24%
  • Recruitment and onboarding – 20%
  • Diversity and inclusion – 18%
  • Health and wellbeing – 14%

We took these results to our employee experience experts for their best practices on using data and analytics in each area. Read on for their insights.

1. Fuel more productive career pathing conversations

For years, career progression has been a top factor in attracting and retaining talent – and is increasingly so, as the workforce demographic changes

As organisations get smarter about harnessing their people data, they can move beyond promises and possibilities towards hard numbers and tangible career development goals. For example, people leaders can use analytics to harness concrete, fact-based data on historical career movement to help their staff visualise future career options. 

Visier Senior Solutions Consultant, Mike Everitt, explains, “individuals often don’t know what opportunities are available. They sit in their current roles, often to the point where they get fed up, bored, and want to leave. By this point it’s probably too late. Arming managers with proactive insight fuels more productive conversations that stop people ever reaching the point of wanting to leave”.

This emphasis on managers is crucial to EX, whatever project you focus on. That was a major point that surfaced from our conversations with employee experience expert Melissa Arronte of Medallia at Outsmart recently. 

“We have Customer Experience and HR and Finance, and all these other departments that support them, but employee experience is owned by managers 100%” says Melissa. “Empower people to make the transformation. Don’t hold it in HR or any one function. Democratize the data; make it available for everyone; empower everyone.” 

2. Make fact-based training and development decisions

Training and development is a critical counterpart to career pathing. If career paths give your people a map, training and development gives them a vehicle and teaches them to drive. Both are vital to great employee experiences.

But delivering the right training to the right people – and constantly fine-turning to ensure your programs continually deliver value – is extremely difficult without strong analytics.

The right people analytics approach empowers you to take data from multiple sources, so you can evaluate your people’s current skills and competencies against the ones they need to develop. This way you deliver training programs targeted around your people’s needs, helping them make true progress towards their career development goals. 

People analytics also enables you to make fact-based decisions about learning program effectiveness, by giving you the data to link training to business outcomes like productivity and engagement. 

“Many learning leaders are still struggling to tell their ROI story,” says Visier’s learning expert Amanda Prelazzi in her article. “Key stakeholders [are often] satisfied with gauging success and impact by the “buzz” created around the office. More data points, and an easy way to interpret and analyse the data, are needed to prove learning programs’ impact and value.”

3. Deliver customer-like recruitment and onboarding experiences

As a fifth of our respondents have concluded, focussing your EX efforts on the first touchpoint in the employee lifecycle makes good sense. Hays data shows, for example, that 91% of employees believe onboarding is a critical engagement factor.

It’s also an area most organisations aren’t overwhelmingly good at. Gallup reports only 12% of employees agree their organisation does a great job onboarding, for instance. And Talent Board says only 26% of candidates in EMEA report a great candidate experience.

An HR leader at a leading global mass media organisation spoke to us recently about the urgent need for better analytics in the recruitment and onboarding experience, “to empower organisations to treat candidates and employees more like customers.” 

“Recent years have seen a lot more talk – but not always more action. Especially at the local level, where people are drowning in admin,” says this HR manager.

Driving progress is a two-part challenge. First, unleashing data from multiple systems and siloes to form a single source of truth that drives buy-in (and secure investment) for change. Then making that data accessible – easily and fast – from the bottom-up to empower action. 

4. Build a culture of diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion is an urgent business imperative, thanks to increasing employee and consumer pressure – and no shortage of evidence that more diverse companies outperform peers

Therefore, it’s a little surprising that only 18% of our respondents chose D&I as the biggest EX impact area for people analytics. Especially since research shows only 35% of Chief Diversity Officers are able to track diversity data.

Digging into your data provides a complete picture of your current state of play:  How diverse is our organisation really? When we drill into specific locations, departments and roles, where are our diversity gaps? Where are our bottlenecks? 

People analytics should make collecting and presenting this data simple and fast so action can happen immediately. 

There’s also the qualitative side to examine: Do our people feel included and empowered? Do our processes work for every employee demographic? 

There’s no point improving your hiring diversity if you don’t engage, empower, and retain your diverse talent too. 

Melissa talks about how this culture of D&I is the core driver for better customer outcomes: “Why do we ask our employees to change if we don’t ask our customers to change? True diversity lets employees have an impact on the business because they can bring all their unique skills, knowledge and perspectives.”

5. Clarify the health and wellbeing puzzle

The pandemic has shone an urgent light onto employee health and wellbeing so it’s no surprise to see 14% of respondents identifying this as a big EX focus. 

Knowing where to tread means understanding both what employees want and what they need from you to support optimum productivity. It means continuous, contextual employee listening. 

“Any employee experience initiative is fuelled by data,” says Allen. “EX is the realm of perception. You need to measure those perceptions [to place] employee listening at the heart of employee experience [because] perception is reality.” 

Allen also focuses on collating employee sentiment data, not just through surveys but also a myriad of listening channels, like focus groups, always-on feedback, embedded data collection, and interviews. 

Employees’ perceptions around the likes of health and wellbeing are complex and evolving. “If you want to be proactive, you have to know where to look,” says Mike. “Combining EX data with core HR data allows you to spot trends, predict what’s likely to come next, prioritise solutions and fine-tune programs and initiatives to scale their impact.”

Where should you start? By solving what sucks 

The close grouping of the answers to our poll – ranging from 24% to 15% – is testament to the vast scale of the employee experience space. Coming back to Allen’s point, choosing your focus can be daunting. 

Lydia Wu from Panasonic shares wise words during her Outsmart session: “Just focus on whatever sucks today.” 

“If you only had two hours a week to work on EX, what would you work on?” Melissa expands in the same session. “Take a business problem – it could be sales; it could be turnover. Anything a business leader is trying to solve for. Then bring together EX data and CX data to guide them on how they can better solve that problem. Anytime we start with something concrete and solve it for the business, it builds momentum”. 

As the phrase goes, don’t let perfect get in the way of progress. 

Watch Outsmart on-demand: Learn from Allen, Melissa, Lydia and many more inspirational thought-leaders and change-makers in the people insights space now.

About the Authors:

Robert Sullivan: Robert is a B2B Sales Professional with 15 years experience of selling into the HR function.  Excited to be working in the people analytics space, as we are now seeing first hand, the importance that people data and insight can play in making the workplace a happier, healthier and more engaging environment for employees.  Born an bred in South East London, and still live there today.

Joseph Honess: Joe has spent the last 10 years working in the HR tech space, working with organisations to improve the employee experience through enhancing HR processes identifying risks and opportunities through and analytics and insights. At Visier, Joe focuses on supporting Financial Services, Fintech and Professional Services organisations with their people analytics and workforce planning strategies.

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