HR is the secret weapon for an organization. In part, this is due to its responsibility for planning and strategy surrounding a company’s most valuable asset: its people. In order to be our most strategic selves, we need to have access to information and resources to help us make the most informed decisions possible. That starts with analytics and metrics, which is what we’re focused on today.
Episode 143: How Workplace and People Analytics Can Drive Results in HR with Natalie McCullough (@NatalieMcCull)
Natalie McCullough is General Manager of Workplace Analytics with Microsoft. After hearing from her about the data and analytics we now have at our fingertips, I’m excited about the future of HR, now more than ever. People analytics is the most important strategic development that HR has seen in a very long time. Natalie says, historically, companies have invested in measuring just about everything in their business, including key operational components. They have a lot of data about customers. They have a lot of information and systems around factory operations, R&D, cash flow, supply chain, real estate utilization… you name it. However, there’s not so much information about people. Historically, people decisions have not been very rigorous from a data perspective. Until now, that is.
What Is People Analytics?
People analytics takes all the rigor of data analytics, prediction and research, and applies it to what everybody says is their most important asset: their people. Natalie says it’s this use of data about human behavior, relationships and traits that allows organizations to make strategic people and human capital decisions. Natalie believes we are really moving the people space into a place where many other parts of the business have been for a while, which is around true data-driven decision making. I personally find this so refreshing and exciting.
Three Types of Business and Workplace Transformation
Natalie has an article that was recently published in the Harvard Business Review focused on business and workplace transformation. I think this is important to note because people analytics is critical for real strategic business and workplace transformation to happen. We finally have data and information at our fingertips to demonstrate the importance of human capital and how changes in this area impact the greater business.
The three types of business transformation are 1) Cultural, 2) Strategic and 3) Process. Natalie walks us through each of these and how they can be enhanced by using people analytics, metrics and data to help drive these decisions for the first time ever in the history of the HR function.
Natalie shares a number of case studies on how people analytics have helped support, demonstrate, and show the benefit of organizational changes that are made. Some are small and some are big. While the podcast walks us through some examples in greater detail for the listener, I wanted to call out a benefit I see that’s extremely important and that we might not have considered when it comes to having access to this data. And that is personal accountability. By the individual user having access to data about their own productivity and work, they are able to be really accountable for their own success and find ways to truly change and improve their actions, activities, work and behaviors. Similar to having a Fitbit or an iWatch, employees can see how booking too many meetings can hurt their productivity and make immediate changes to their schedule where they can also see their individual results. The benefits of this individual accountability apply not just in the workplace; they also transition into employees’ personal and family lives.
I love the work Microsoft and Natalie are doing, which helps arm workplace leaders, HR, and individual contributors with the data they need to be more successful across the organization. I can’t wait to see how the people analytics space grows. I especially love the work Microsoft is doing around knowledge workers and helping to understand not only how to be productive, but also how analytics go hand-in-hand with any type of organizational transformation, large or small.
Connect with Natalie McCullough.
- How People Analytics Can Help You Change Process, Culture, and Strategy ~ Co-authored by Natalie
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*A special thank you to my production team at Total Picture Radio.