People Analytics Success Benefits from an Employee Value Proposition

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People analytics delivers value to organizations. I can point to countless surveys that show that organizations that adopt people analytics outperform those that don’t. Bersin says so. Corporate Leadership Council says so. The Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey says so. The Visier Age of People Analytics Survey says so. I can also show countless case studies where individual organizations get value from people analytics from technology cost savings, labor savings, HR effectiveness improvements, and business outcome results. And, there’s a research report synthesizing the economic impact.

Those organizations, either in the aggregate or individually, are made up of people – workers whose data is being used. Their data is collected, explored, and presented to discover underlying patterns and trends in support of lowering turnover, improving diversity and inclusion, cutting absenteeism and more.

So why aren’t we thinking more about the value of people analytics from the individual employee or worker perspective and advocating for it as well? What’s in it for them to have their data used? With data privacy issues making headlines, employers who are actively collecting and analyzing workforce data must begin to continually engage their employees in understanding “what’s in it for you?”

Employees are already concerned about data privacy and security in their everyday consumer lives. They also want their workforce data to be protected and used in a way that positively impacts them. Organizations can benefit from an employee value proposition for people analytics to ensure their buy-in, plus it’s easy to harness the power of people analytics to support them too.

My colleague, Jan Schwarz, VP of International Sales and Founder of Visier, and I decided to collaborate on a simple article on this topic almost a year ago. It turned into a full-blown research paper as we brainstormed and researched all the ways that analytics can be put to use to serve employees.

A framework to explore employee value based on employee needs

I often start a research project with an organizing framework to collect opportunities and suggested that we use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to look at how people analytics can meet the needs of employees in delivering value to them. We then developed a complimentary Employee’s Hierarchy of Needs in a Data-driven World.

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maslow's hierarchy of needs

Figure 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Look at these two charts side by side. What we are suggesting is that any discussion of people analytics for the employee should emphasize and meet their needs at all levels. In the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, fundamental physiological and safety needs must first be met and thereafter a person becomes motivated by belonging and esteem. Once those needs are met, an individual seeks to achieve his or her full potential and ultimately strives to pursue universal goals.

employee value proposition-hierarchy of needs

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Figure 2: Employee’s Hierarchy of Needs in a Data-driven World

In a data-driven world, the fundamental need is to be paid fairly, commensurate with one’s performance. Individuals want to work in a safe environment, which in a data-driven world means that their data is safely managed and complies with regulatory and GDPR mandates. Most individuals want to work in an engaging environment where they can collaborate and network to meet belonging needs. Beyond this, individuals want job enrichment where they can learn and grow to achieve their full potential and even pursue universal goals of making a difference in the world, which some do in alignment and appreciation of the goals of their organization, especially when socially responsible.

What is an employee value proposition?

So, let’s emphasize enhancing the employee’s work life as well. Rather than having the organization merely interpret data about individuals, a fully humanized people analytics practice gives these individuals the tools to interpret and analyze their own employee data to provide explicit value – to them.

Employees should be able to use data and analytics to make more informed decisions about their day-to-day work life, development, and career path. A side benefit is that defining and having targets for this model of company/employee partnership will help people analytics activities go smoothly as well as deliver value for both the employee and the employer as they move from a stance of employer benefits only, to one where everyone benefits.

This vision is not a reality but there are signs of this direction. Richard Rosenow, a Workforce Planner and People Analytics Analyst at Facebook, says that at his company:

“We think about HR data as being the voice of the employee. Everything we analyze and understand is a chance for us to listen through the data and make the company a better place for them.”

This strategy suggests a culture of progressive employee advocacy.

Focus areas providing employee value

The journey to a fully humanized people analytics practice is now just a rambling path. We suggest the following six areas of focus. In our white paper, we provide details around the use of people analytics and the value proposition in each area.

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  1. Establish a basic work foundation of fair pay, optimal health, and safety to align with the bottom two hierarchy layers.
  2. Focus on improving employee health and work-life balance.
  3. Deliver a safe, secure, and transparent environment, especially around employees’ sensitive data.
  4. Focus on inclusion and not just diversity.
  5. Foster career growth opportunities.
  6. Focus on engagement, collaboration, job enrichment, learning and development, and supporting purpose-driven work throughout the employee life cycle from onboarding to development to retention.

Get started with these recommendations

We suggest one place to start is with a role related to data advocacy and data ethics. In addition to this role being focused on products used externally in the market, the role should also be focused inwardly on how technology and personal data can benefit employees while protecting their data privacy. A few recommendations on how to focus inwardly include:

  • Be aware of the need to humanize technology implementations with special attention to how people analytics can benefit the employee. User-centered design developed in cooperation with employees is key.
  • Inform employees why the organization collects and captures data and at what level of detail and how used.
  • Communicate that employees are the owner of their data. Consider even that employees, especially contingent workers, should be able to take their data with them when they leave.
  • Personalize analytics to “moments that matter” to the employee along their life cycle from choosing benefits at onboarding, to enabling development opportunities at the point of need, to optimizing their work environment to support engagement.
  • Encourage employees to share data on their career aspirations to optimize their development.

Boldly move beyond reports and dashboards to address the needs of employees with people analytics attuned to their needs. Let us deliver value to the employee in the same way we attend to working to deliver value to shareholders and business leaders.

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