In EVERY newsletter that I’ve published so far, I’ve always mentioned the importance of data – both to collect it, and to apply it.
But let's be honest (and I had a great conversation about this with Adrian Tan last week, most data ends up in the digital equivalent of a dusty desk drawer. So should we just be honest with ourselves and forget about People Data?
For this week’s newsletter, I’ll dive into this topic and suggest a few areas of data that actually may be worth collecting and acting upon. As always, I'm very interested to learn from other people leaders in terms of what they are doing – and especially, what's working. Please share liberally in the comment section.
Let’s review: Data-driven HR practices have been a mega trend for quite a while, so much so that the Insight222 People Analytics Trends 2022 Research states that the CHRO in leading companies in people analytics make it clear that “data and analytics are an essential part of the HR strategy” and invest in “developing the data literacy of their HR business partners.”
The issue remains, however, that many HR practitioners and managers might be collecting data that are not actionable, either because the type of data is not relevant, or because the data are not insightful enough to spur appropriate countermeasures.
In an article on Gallup, Nate Dvorak argues that even one of the most popular types of data collected in the workplace – the eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) – is not adequate for companies to act on, as it “shows something is going on”, but not why and how. It poses more questions than it can provide solutions, while company leaders should look at the types of data that can clarify what the problems and solutions are.
What Data are Actually Important?
Rather than endless reports with data that are not being applied, here are a few ideas about what may actually be helpful to track and implement. The focus here is on actionable data that will help improve the employee experience management, and therefore retention. Of course this would live on top of typical data points that hopefully already do get utilized like time to hire, retention rates, etc.
At the end of the day, the ultimate goal for modern employees is to seek companies that can provide them with a desirable level of well-being and workplace satisfaction. As noted above, while current types of data such as the eNPS can offer certain information about employee satisfaction, they don’t provide adequate insight for companies to take actions.
In the same article, Dvorak proposes that organizations should pay more attention to “employee engagement” instead. When employees are engaged, they are “eager to come to work”, “are intrinsically motivated to perform”, and “will naturally seek out new creative ways to improve the company.” As a result, they are also more likely to advocate for their company, which the eNPS measures. He offers a few specific workplace experiences that can make employees soar in engagement metrics:
- Employees are recognized for their excellent performance.
- Employees have frequent exchanges with their bosses about progress.
- Employees are allowed opportunities to learn and grow.
Attendance – but not how you think about it
In the hybrid work model, different teams, or even different members of the same team, can choose to come to the office on select days, how can companies keep track of their presence in the office? We know that they tend to come to the office on the same days as their immediate managers, but for employees who come in on other days, it might leave the wrong impression that those employees are not “productive” enough.
If we collect this type of data, managers can not only have a better picture of which employees are adhering to the hybrid guidelines, but more importantly, have early 'warning signs' when employees start to disengage. They can also make more evidence-based decisions regarding their employees, which can reduce biases in for example performance reviews.
As I’ve stressed before, most employees choose to come to the office to socialize with their colleagues or their bosses, so it is essential for companies to nourish that sense of belonging and community.
Data can be gathered to identify employees with similar interests or at similar life stages, and managers can act on such information to create events and community-specific content. It will help companies understand their people better, and truly deliver on their need for a personalized employee experience.
This process is particularly important during the onboarding period, especially if companies opt to provide onboarding buddies for new hires, which I covered extensively in last week’s newsletter.
Pulse surveys: A Deeper Understanding
Employee pulse surveys are among the latest actionable data that companies can work with. During the COVID pandemic, one global organization decided to create a homegrown weekly pulse survey to track the opinions and feelings of their employees around the globe, enabling the organization itself to better understand the employees’ specific needs.
Using customized data sets which supported both exploratory and targeted analyses, the pulse surveys helped the organization marry new and existing information to gain new insights, which led them to identify population-specific needs, and provided the appropriate support with maximum impact.
Since this type of survey was so successful, personally, I believe that organizations and businesses should look to adopt this type of weekly and customized surveys to collect data about the employees’ opinions about a variety of aspects in their working experience. As a result, companies can have a better grasp of what they can do to improve their employees’ experience.
We ourselves used OfficeVibe but many platforms out there can support in running employee pulse survey. But let's talk about the most important element of this story:
Let's Get to the "Why"
At the end of the day, we can collect all the data we want, but it only will help us if we apply it. This gets to the big question of our "why." What is it that we actually need to know? And why do we want to know this?
The best companies have a clear vision and mission, core values or management principles, and well-articulated business goals for the quarter or year. Tracking whether we are doing well towards that, should be the ultimate 'why' behind our measurements.
In the spirit of working backwards, we should then formulate what the 'input' metrics are for those 'outputs.' Well-engaged, highly committed employees who feel that their purpose and goals overlaps with the company's should be a major component of that. Hence the satisfaction, attendance, and community metrics.
What do or will you measure?
Have a data-filled week!