Most of us spend 40 or more hours each week at work. In the Knowledge Economy, with its digital nature, our work and daily lives tend to converge. It’s a yin and yang scenario, one most employees appreciate in order to make work-life balance manifest.
In this same vein, technology is being used to remove barriers and frustrations to ensure employees can work better, smarter and more efficiently.
For years, companies have used data and analytics to track and recruit the best talent. Today, the use of analytics is being expanded to one of the biggest challenges facing businesses—employee retention and engagement.
Combating Employee Flight Risk: Employee Experience Is Critical
A new Gartner study—the firm’s quarterly Global Talent Monitor—found only 53% of workers worldwide plan to stay in their current jobs. Researchers attribute U.S. workers’ willingness to be more proactive in their job searches to strong economic conditions and a hot job market.
This scenario is causing organizations to work harder to ensure the employee experience is both fulfilling and rewarding. Dan Fries, senior vice president and managing director of Sibson Consulting, a human capital consulting firm, says, “…the Employee Value Proposition is now more of an exchange, emphasizing the shift from an almost paternalistic, ‘This is what we will give you to come to work here,’ to ‘This is… where you as an employee have options, a career and life advantages. In exchange, we as the employer receive your best work.’”
Fries also says there is an underlying message of working together—partially driven by the tight job market and partially driven by what new generations of employees are looking for.
To develop a strong Employee Value Proposition, organizations must take substantial steps toward evaluating and improving the employee experience. Free pizza or discounted gym membership is not effectual. It is the nature of the work that must improve. While organizations have embraced the data-driven organization, we must move to the employee-driven organization.
Using Analytics to Deconstruct the Employee Experience
Advanced people analytics measures and analyzes the digital output generated by work activity. Software automates the collection of the digital signals that an employee emits when using technology and systems then combines them with analytics that equip senior executives with reporting and analysis.
People analytics seeks to understand work from the employee’s perspective: What do employees have to deal with on a day-to-day basis? Do they have the tools, the right amount of collaboration and a conducive environment to do it?
For the employee, people analytics can identify practices that harm efficiency. For managers, the data can be helpful to understand and mitigate workload issues.
HR leaders can now implement employee work pattern data into the elements of performance evaluation, leadership development, hiring and promotion, job design, and compensation. This transforms HR from subjective to objective and changes the dynamic from oversight to collaborative.
Demystifying People Analytics
There is one aspect that stands in the way of realizing the employee-driven organization. Misconceptions around people analytics abound—the most common being confusing people analytics with monitoring and surveillance.
In contrast to people analytics, employee monitoring and surveillance leverages technology to monitor specifics of computer usage, voice communications, and texts and emails—in many cases without employees’ knowledge. This monitoring is used to combat fraud, non-compliance, theft, and workplace violence/harassment. From an employee’s perspective, these activities can feel intrusive and almost punitive. With people analytics, organizations have an opportunity to educate employees to reset expectations on how technology helps create a mutually-beneficial work environment.
It is important to ensure employees understand that technology does not track keystrokes, specific web pages or the content in email communications or text. It tracks how employees spend time at work. It tracks how work is done and measures overall output and effectiveness—creating a baseline so managers can collaborate with employees to help set productivity goals.
Like a Fitbit for work, it gives employees the ability to quantify their time at work and even offers gamification to spur competition and reward accomplishments, as well as built-in feedback loops, so employees can self-report when and if they are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. This can serve as an early warning detection system to guide employers in addressing issues.
The workforce is changing as is its expectations for work as we know it. People analytics is unique in that the technology can help guide organizations to understand the successes and failures that bolster and/or threaten the employee experience.
Khiv Singh is Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing for Sapience Analytics, a vendor of “people analytics” solutions to help companies better organize and use employee time to be more efficient. Sapience Analytics technology is used by more than 120,000 users in over 85 enterprises across 18 countries to move the needle on employee engagement, organizational productivity, and business profitability.