Productivity is this month’s theme in Littalics on Wednesday. During September, I’ll share my research and contents on this topic, and offer my colleagues and clients an opportunity to express thoughts, ideas, and case studies. Subscribe to stay tuned, and to make sure you join me on this new opportunity to grow. However, productivity is not a new theme in my research activity. Apparently, I mention it before, in many aspects of my writing. But as I took a retrospective glance into my archive, I realized that each time I mentioned the term productivity in an article, some questions were still hung out there. In fact, there are too many questions. Let me give you some examples:
What are the methods and tools?
When I started to study the role of the People Analytics leader, more than four years ago, I emphasized the challenge of combining people data from different sources, in order to deal with business challenges. A leader must understand all employee data and its impact on business performance. This goes far beyond HR kinds of soft metrics, or even KPIs of the HR department. Therefore, the leader must understand not only data management, analytics, statistics, and visualization, but rather the professional language of partners within the company, who can assist in implementing the actionable insights regarding business performance, including productivity. But what are the methods and tools to transform business questions about productivity into actionable insights?
What are the factors to look for?
I’ve covered the development of the People Analytics profession for quite a long time now. Unfortunately, the more it is discussed, the more myths and misconceptions are found. When I described myths about People Analytics that inhibit professionals’ progress, I described productivity as a part of the entire value chain that HR practices create. HR leaders are not supposed to use People Analytics to measure the efficiency of HR practices, but rather to understand the impact of their practices on the business results. HR processes create workforce capabilities that enable the organization to achieve productivity, along with other business goals. People Analytics means that HR focus on the use of people data, derived from their processes, to impact the business. However, too many HR leaders still consider their dashboards and KPIs as People Analytics. How can we make more HR leaders study the factors that drive business performance, and what are these factors?
What are the trusted resources?
Upskilling and Reskilling leaders to leverage workforce data to impact the business kept me busy this year. Fortunately, there are great textbooks that can help anyone who wants to make progress in this field. I cover the literature, and my People Analytics and HR-Tech reading list, which includes +30 items of Kindle editions, is one of the popular resources to many practitioners, consultants, and academic leaders. But although it offers inspiration, practical guidance, validation for practices, new ideas, innovative tools, and an “open door” to a professional community, only one book on my list included the term productivity in its brief. So, if the reading list is insufficient to study productivity, where can HR leaders find additional valuable resources to help them explore the topic?
What is the business case for using shiny tools?
I believe that as technology develops People Analytics leaders will be less involved in analysis and be more responsible for Procurement processes and Ethics. Therefore, these leaders must make sense of the HR-tech industry, to be able to match tech solutions to business challenges. But sailing the rough seas of HR-Tech solutions is not an easy task. My list of People Analytics and HR-tech solutions may be a lighthouse to some of the brave sailors. It includes links to innovation and vendors, sorted in categories which are based on the employee lifecycle. An interesting category in this list includes about twenty solutions for goal tracking, performance reviews, and productivity. But do HR managers know how to create the business case and leverage the use of these shiny tools to boost productivity in the organization?
What is an ethical use of the technology?
Leveraging technology to measure employee behavior that boost productivity raises ethical questions. I covered some of the controversial tech solutions in my monthly review of resources about ethics in People Analytics and AI at work. Obviously, in Covid19 times, there are more headlines on this topic. While employers use more surveillance technologies to monitor work from home, it might be the wrong solution, because it signals distrust and reduces intrinsic motivation to perform well, which may undermine the goal of increased productivity. So how can we monitor behavior ethically, and reward employees that contribute to productivity?
The list goes on and on. I wrote about productivity in interviews, events reviews, and case studies, and we can find many questions there too. I’m not going to cover them all right now. But I believe the message is clear. Productivity is a broad topic, that includes business angles, people angles, methodology, technology, ethics, and more. It definitely stands on its own. Therefore, in my next practicum group of People Analytics practitioners, we’ll cover the different perspectives of this subject while each participant practice on real data from his or her organization.
We’ll cover all aspects of Productivity in People Analytics practices: Definitions and measures, workforce phenomena and symptoms, tactics in self-management and in collaboration, HR-tech tools, and an ethics debate. These aspects of productivity will also be covered shortly, and productively, in blogs.