Littal Shemer Haim

People Analytics, HR Data Strategy, Organizational Research – Consultant, Mentor, Speaker, Influencer

Key takeaways from People Analytics World, London 2018 – Part 2

Eight key takeaways from the conference second-day sessions, case studies, demos and panel.
Photography by Littal Shemer Haim ©
(Reading Time: 6 minutes)

The 2nd day of People Analytics World was a continuation of great professional sessions, and delighting hospitality, as I experienced in the 1st day of the conference. I continued the fascinating exploration of People Analytics leaders who develop their field and provide their organizations with valuable tools that enable actionable insights. In this blog, I share my key takeaways from the conference second-day sessions, case studies, and demos, in which I participated.

#1. Keynote:
People Analytics role in navigating into the future of work

Katie Minton and Neera Ridler-Mayor, both Directors in People & Workforce Analytics at Deloitte, discussed the role of People Analytics in navigating the future of work. They presented an update of research about the future of work and its impact on HR. The workforce of the future will be very different than it is today, as artificial intelligence and robotics advance at pace will enable more work to be done by smart machines. They explored the role that HR and People Analytics need to play to navigate this disrupted landscape, and in particular in the formation of the “Social Enterprise”, which emerges when both the level of collaboration and internal agility and the level of external focus rise. They described the wide future role of People Analytics, that will include areas such as: optimizing business models, dealing with inclusive workforce and environment, driving the future service of HR, engaging in open talent economy, providing data points to direct opportunities for positive disruption, i.e., productivity. They recommended design thinking for People Analytics solutions and using People Analytics approach for People Analytics solutions, i.e., explore colleagues’ needs and demands. Their four keys to become a hero are: think big, start small, act fast, and stay human.

#2. Disrupt:
Be a game changer by techniques and attitudes that are being used in Marketing

Luk Smeyers, Co-Founder and CEO of iNostix by Deloitte guided People Analytics leaders to think like their colleagues from Marketing and apply Customer Experience Analytics to the employees. Smeyers encouraged People Analytics practitioners to get outside of the ‘dark room of HR’, aka their silos, and to use five techniques: hyper-segmentation, A/B testing, investment elasticity, uplift modeling, and statistical forecasting. He described a four-level model of HR transformation, and suggested HR to move first towards (and keep doing) “datafication” and business integration. The next steps would include integration with employees’ digital world and skills of the future. Smeyers considered GDPR a “present from Heaven”, which demands new culture: content-based, co-creation with employees, transparency and employee empowered. He also offered some valuable tips for “starting tomorrow”: use cross-functional team, do iterative work, and avoid silos by negotiating with your provider to access the data behind the dashboards.

#3. Demo:
Create a business impact with strategic workforce planning

Kai Berendes, an Executive Partner at Dynaplan, demonstrated how to create a business impact with strategic workforce planning. While analytics is usually focused on workforce supply, his strategic workforce planning uses holistic models that include both demand and supply, and bridge between business strategy and future workforce, by customizable demand models, a link between job families and skills, and between planning process and technology. Berendes demonstrated how to explore the impact of today’s decisions about people on the future, by simulation with the product. He explored supply dynamics step by step and then moved to demand, to find what roles are missing or no longer needed, using a graphical approach. He also demonstrated how to apply policies to the system, and receive a recommendation, e.g., what to do to close gaps, how to choose between internal or external workforce, and how to explore bottlenecks, competencies behind jobs, and more.


#4. Impact:
Understand employee experience to address turnover intentions, and prevent regrettable losses before they happen

Vanessa Lammers, Director of Global People Analytics & Insights in Nestlé Waters presented a proactive approach to enhance the employee experience and improve retention: the “Engagement Check-Ins”. Since exit surveys are not actionable, Lammers offered an alternative methodology to keep high-risk employees: from a predictive turnover model to a targeted engagement interview, to specific front-line manager intervention. She reviewed how her company leveraged both a predictive model and workforce planning approach to conducting Engagement Check-Ins and shared an online tool that aggregates employee feedback and captures action planning, thus enables a real-time pulse of the organization. Specifically, she described in details an original form that was used after check-ins conversation, for capturing open-ended answers quantitatively, and a dashboard that encouraged managers to fill them. Lammers emphasized the fact that since organizations are social systems, some of the most meaningful and actionable data is qualitative, and meaningful insights come from simply talking to people. Furthermore, managers can play a critical role in employee engagement and retention.

#5. Strategy:
Identify problematic people processes which are causing business problems

Max Blumberg, Ph.D., Visiting Professor at Leeds University Business School, explained how to identify the real challenges of the organization. By generalizing a case study related to a company’s sales, Blumberg showed how important is to know where to focus, to impact the business with People Analytics. When done right, we get organizational capabilities that end-up with KPIs, translated to money, he explained. However, too often, People Analytics addresses other issues, mainly people process relevant to HR like attrition, recruitment, and learning and development. Organizations generate value by investing in productive assets. However, in regards to people, while calculating the costs is easy, it is difficult to assess the value side of the equation. Analytics that address people process seldom provide senior general managers with the guidance they need for allocating budgets between competing assets to achieve their desired business outcomes. Blumberg stressed the importance for People Analytics to address business problems rather than just people problems and suggested a methodology for identifying problematic people processes which are causing business problems, by communicating with senior managers via a survey. This business-driven approach, according to Blumberg, is a good alternative to a data-driven approach.

#6. Disrupt:
Absence metrics enable to compare different operational employee groups

Caroline Williams, Manager of People Analytics in British Airways, demonstrated how the company drives wellbeing and positive behaviors in the workplace through absence analytics. This customer-serving organization depends on the wellbeing of their people to deliver high standards of customer service. One factor in supporting employee wellbeing is the management of absence. However, the causes of absence are often complex and challenging, as are the impacts on costs and productivity. The company uses analytics to better understand absence. The role of People Analytics in monitoring attendance was to create agreed definitions, define metrics, and improve analytics confident. The impact was a self-serve metrics, improved interventions, and integration of data into decision making, towards the goal of a well, happy and engaged workforce. However, it was a long-term project, with two years of validating data and getting everybody to roll the same reports.

#7. Strategy:
Create value by People Analytics practice with limited resources

Michael Tocci, Ph.D., Global Leader Talent Analytics & Insights in Procter & Gamble, offered guiding principles for creating value for the business with People Analytics, and demonstrated how an analytics project resulted in saving millions of dollars, by exploring expatriates costs globally, and considering recommendation, e.g., reducing expats in certain countries, looking for roles that can be located in lower cost locations, exploring necessity of senior managers, and exploring high potential and low performers among expats, and more. He presented how to create a People Analytics function with limited resources (time, budget, and people), and how to create value based on data-informed insights in HR. Specifically, he emphasized that fancy stats are not necessary and credibility is the key.

#8. Closing Panel:
How does HR stay relevant, in the world of automation?

The closing panel was led by David Green and included Steve Bianchi, VP People Operations in Improbable, Nicky Clement, VP HR, Organization Effectiveness, Performance & Analytics in Unilever, Jordan Pettman, Global Head of HR Data, Analytics & Planning in Nestlé, and Jim Matthewman, Consulting Director at Talentspringboard. It addressed organizational preparations for Digital Transformation. Technology is touching every aspect of the organization, and it is redefining the way people work, interact, report, manage and progress in their careers. With the audience contributions, the panelists addressed questions about culture readiness, benefits of digital transformation, data ownership, GDPR, and the relevance of HR in the world of automation. The panelist agreed about the lack of data talent and the misunderstanding of Analytics role. They stressed the importance of customer approach in the digital transformation and expressed their concern about the abuse of the digital world. In a blurred future of work, where gig economy is growing, skills demand is changing, and machine capabilities are leveraging, it is time to go back to creativity, innovation, and the emotional part of our brain, that machines don’t have. People and HR will have to offer a different value proposition, which will include readiness to learn, curiosity, and willing to transform to stay relevant. The new psychological contract will be value for data, but transparency and ethics regarding people data will be necessary.

Littal Shemer Haim

Littal Shemer Haim

Littal Shemer Haim brings Data Science into HR activities, to guide organizations to base decision-making about people on data. Her vast experience in applied research, keen usage of statistical modeling, constant exposure to new technologies, and genuine interest in people’s lives, all led her to focus nowadays on HR Data Strategy, People Analytics, and Organizational Research.

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