Top 40 HR & People Analytics articles of 2018

2018 proved to be a momentous year for people analytics as an increasing number of organisations embraced a data-driven approach to HR and people decisions.

According to a study from the Corporate Research Forum, 69% of large organisations (10,000+ employees) now have a people analytics team. Whilst research by LinkedIn found that the number of professionals in the EMEA region who list people analytics or HR analytics as a skill rose by 61% in the twelve months to June 2018 (regional research for North America and APAC saw similar growth).

Even more tellingly, Visier’s The Age of People Analytics study identified that the profit margins of organisations with advanced capability in people analytics are 56% higher than those of their peers. Statistics like this suggests that people analytics is here to stay.

For the last five years I have collated and published a collection of the ‘best’ articles of the preceding 12 months – see 201420152016 and 2017 and following are my choices for the 40 best articles of 2018.

Why 40? I have to concede that it is partly down to my inability to prune down to 30 or 20 – although it was hard enough to get it down to 40! On a positive note, choosing to include 40 articles means I’ve been able to reflect the sheer diversity of how analytics is being applied to people decisions. The sheer quality and quantity of articles that have been published over the last 12 months also demonstrates the progress of the field. Together the articles selected should act as a venerable resource library for those working, researching or interested in the people analytics space. That is certainly the intention.

I have arranged the 40 articles into ten topics: State of the market, Future of work, The evolution of HR, Building capability, Articles by people analytics leaders, Ethics, Organisational Network Analysis, Employee experience and wellbeing, Diversity and Getting started before highlighting a few of my own articles at the end.

I hope you enjoy the articles selected, and if you do please do subscribe to my Data Driven HR newsletter.


There was a slew of excellent research published on people analytics in 2018 including the CRF, LinkedIn and Visier studies I’ve already referenced plus others by the likes of Josh Bersin, i4CP and IBM, which I collected together in my Compendium of People Analytics Research. One example that perfectly captures the current state and future direction of people analytics comes from the CIPD…

1. EDWARD HOUGHTON, MEL GREEN, CIPD – People analytics: driving business performance with people data

The CIPD research provides a host of insights, not least that a strong people analytics culture leads to positive business outcomes as well as FIG 1 below, which suggests that confidence in conducting analysis varies significantly in the regions covered by the research. It is interesting that the UK displays a distinct lack of confidence in analytics comparative to their peers. Features outstanding analysis from Ed Houghton and Mel Green, an astute Foreword by Peter Cheese and significant contributions from the likes of Andrew MarrittEugene BurkeAndy Charlwood and Max Blumberg.

FIG 1: HR professionals in the UK lack the confidence to conduct advanced people analytics (Source: CIPD)


There’s a lot of buzz and a fair sprinkling of hype associated with the future of work and the likely consequences for HR. As I wrote in my 2019 Predictions for HR, research by the likes of the World Economic Forum and McKinsey suggests that AI will actually create more jobs than it replaces (which, will no doubt disappoint the doomsayers). Moreover, these new jobs will enable us to be more creative, more impactful and more human. As IBM’s recent research declares there is a strong business case for AI in HR but you can’t build AI in HR if you suck at people data and analytics. This all points to people analytics continuing to rise in prominence in the years ahead. Three articles pointing the way forward and laying out the opportunity for people analytics and HR follow:

2. RAVIN JESUTHASAN AND JOHN BOUDREAU – The Future of Work: Can you Answer These Strategic Questions?

Will the inexorable rise of technology render humans obsolete in the workplace or instead will the work humans do be continually reinvented? These are the two scenarios considered by the authors in this taster to their landmark book Reinventing Jobs. As the title suggests, Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau believe the second scenario will prevail and as this transformation takes hold, humans will actually become more valuable in ways that would not be possible without automation. The frameworks outlined in the article (see example in FIG 2) are provided to help leaders consider how work should be ‘deconstructed’. A powerful example is also provided that analyses the job of pilots and flight attendants.

FIG 2: A framework for optimising human and automated work (Source: Reinventing Jobs, Jesuthasan and Boudreau, Harvard Business Press, 2018)

3. AL ADAMSEN – The Workforce of the Future: HR’s Role in Managing the Amoeba

Following up his brilliant People Analytics 3.0 article from 2017, Al Adamsen examines the workforce composition of the future and introduces his Work Framework model to outline the value and changing make-up of the workforce (employees, contractors, consultants, outsource partners, machines etc). Al also outlines a model for Employee Experience Design (see FIG 3) and highlights how in tandem with a positive culture this can lead to improvements in engagement, retention, productivity, innovation and ultimately financial performance. As Al outlines, this challenge represents a unique opportunity for HR and People Analytics to lead the way and ensure that not only the organisation benefits, but employees do too.

The choice is ours, and arguably, if HR doesn’t lead the way it simply won’t happen, and this would elevate risk for all: the organisation and its stakeholders, especially employees. Let’s take charge. Let’s lead.

FIG 3: A model for Employee Experience Design (Source: Al Adamsen)

4. BERNARD MARR WITH LEENA NAIR – How Unilever Uses Artificial Intelligence To Recruit & Train Thousands Of Employees 

Unilever is one of the companies setting the pace when it comes to incorporating AI, analytics and data into HR. In this article, Bernard Marr describes how Unilever has partnered with Pymetrics to screen and assess 1.8m job applicants per year. As well as enhancing the candidate experience, Leena Nair (Unilever’s CHRO) confirms that the automated system has saved 70,000 hours previously spent on interviewing and assessing candidates. The article also describes Unabot, a NLP based bot that supports onboarding by providing information to employees when asked and which has already been successfully rolled out in 36 of Unilever’s 190 markets.

 We’ve learned that you have to make anything that interacts with employees or consumers effortless


HR is facing unprecedented change and increased expectations on the value and impact it needs to provide to the business – and employees. As such, the skills and capabilities required by HR professionals are also undergoing seismic change. Five articles describing the opportunity for the function – if it can evolve – follow, with the need to get jiggy with data front and centre.

5. KEITH McNULTY – It’s time for HR 3.0 

Keith McNulty underlines the unprecedented change work is undergoing, and the extent to which this will revolutionise the capabilities HR needs to consequently develop in the coming years. Keith describes the evolution of HR, from 1.0 (predominantly focused on administration and industrial relations) to 2.0 (business partner, use of data restricted to reporting), and then argues that HR now needs to shift to 3.0. This third version of HR, as Keith explains, requires a more strategic focus in three ways: i) people analytics will be at HR’s core, ii) the HR function will be more agile and efficient, and iii) HR professionals will need to have better business acumen and possess problem-solving skills. This is one of many superb articles written by Keith in 2018 as his compendium of writings from the year ably demonstrates.

HR 3.0 is an exciting and challenging prospect, but one which is critical for the future of work

6. LAETITIA VITAUD – Can AI Put the ‘Human’ Back Into Human Resources? | How Freelancers Are Redefining ‘Talent’ for HR Professionals

As Hung Lee described in a recent edition of his excellent Brainfood newsletter, Laetitia Vitaud is a quite brilliant analyst on the future of work. In this pair of articles, Laetitia first looks at how AI offers HR the opportunity to personalise the services it offers to employees. The second article, which Hung also featured, examines how changing workforce demands will transform the responsibility of ‘HR’.

AI provides the unique opportunity to redefine HR and give it increased relevance

7. DAVE ULRICH – Agility: The New Response To Dynamic Change

Agility is described by Dave Ulrich as the key organisational capability of our time. He goes on to explain that in our world of unrelenting change agility matters at four levels: strategic, organisational, individual and last but not least HR. Ulrich’s persuasive argument that “HR practices around people, performance, information, and work can be crafted to foster strategic, organisation, and individual agility” is both convincing and inspiring.

When HR both advocates for and models agility, they ensure that strategies, organisations, and individuals anticipate and adapt to dynamic change as fast as the change occurs

FIG 4: The critical organisational capabilities to win have pivoted over time (Source: Dave Ulrich)

8. IAN BAILIE – How to use Design Thinking in HR

In this compelling article, Ian Bailie defines design thinking and how it can be applied to shift HR’s thinking beyond its typical process-driven and programmatic approach to service delivery. Ian explains that HR’s should focus instead on the experience and outcomes that it is looking to drive particularly with regards to creating and personalising the employee experience.

Design Thinking is a great tool for HR to have in its toolkit as it shifts to a more customer-centric approach and focus on creating an exceptional employee experience

9. PETER CAPPELLI & ANNA TAVIS – HR Goes Agile | DIANE GHERSON & LISA BURRELL – Co-creating the Employee Experience | DOMINIC BARTON, DENNIS CAREY & RAM CHARAN – One Bank’s Agile Team Experiment

March’s HBR had a triumvirate of terrific articles on how tech is transforming HR under the banner of ‘The new rules of talent management’. The lead article from Peter Cappelli and Anna Tavis describes how the HR function is “finally getting its long awaited overhaul“. Then an interview with CHRO Diane Gherson outlines how IBM has radically co-created the employee experience through a lens of the employee as customer. The third article from Dominic Barton, Dennis Carey and Ram Charan provides another case study, this time from ING, and describes how agile methodologies were used to design a team-based approach to deploying, developing, and assessing talent.

(With Sentiment Analysis) we’ve been able to swiftly detect problems that are starting to brew and, more important, make a commitment to do something about them


A major highlight for me in 2018 was working with Jonathan Ferrar to create the Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People model and diagnostic for our member companies at Insight222. Jonathan’s article describing the model and four others under the building capability theme are presented below.

10. JONATHAN FERRAR – Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics

During 2018, Jonathan Ferrar and I mulled over the three key questions we regularly get asked by people analytics leaders: How can I improve my impact? How can I create more value? What should I focus on? This formed the basis for our Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics model, which we created in the weeks following our discussion, and is now being used by several organisations to help evaluate, focus and prioritise their people analytics strategies. Jonathan’s article outlines each of the nine dimensions, which we grouped in three categories: foundational aspects, resources and value (see FIG 5). If you are a people analytics leader who wants to find out more, please get in touch.

FIG 5: The Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics – Value (Source: Jonathan Ferrar and David Green)

11. LEXY MARTIN – Seven People Analytics Responsibilities of the Future CHRO |Here’s What You Need in a People Analytics Leader

Two closely related articles from one of my favourite researchers in the space Lexy Martin. First, Lexy outlines seven key responsibilities for CHROs to play an active role in selecting, enabling and modelling usage of people analytics within their companies. These include driving the vision for success as well as coaching business leaders on the value and outcome of analytics and establishing governance related to data privacy and ROI. Lexy’s second article looks at the pivotal role of the Head of People Analytics. Her analysis draws out the unique set of skills required to thrive in this challenging role, the reporting line (ideally direct to the CHRO), how to harness technology, drive change and create value.

(The CHRO) should advocate for other members of the executive team to use facts and analyses to support their people decisions

(The Head of People Analytics) is the key evangelist and visionary for data-driven decision making, and ensures the use of people analytics always delivers values to the business

12. McKINSEYTen red flags signalling your analytics program will fail | You Don’t Have to Be a Data Scientist to Fill This Must-Have Analytics Role | Breaking away: The secrets to scaling analytics | Why data culture matters

Some of the best and most consistently excellent research on analytics comes from McKinsey. Here is a selection of articles published in 2018. The red flags identified in the first article include the absence of a clear vision from the executive team with regards to analytics, costly data cleansing exercises and an inability to attribute bottom line impact. Another red flag – the lack of analytics translators – is explored more deeply in the second article. Then insights are provided on how leading organisations are scaling analytical capability before the critical importance of data culture is addressed in the final article.

Translators help ensure that the deep insights generated through sophisticated analytics translate into impact at scale in an organisation

13. MADHURA CHAKRABARTI – Upskilling HR in People Analytics

This article by Madhura Chakrabarti clearly sets out the importance of improving the data literacy of HR professionals. As Madhura describes (and as illustrated in FIG 6 below), the companies that develop advanced and sustainable capability in people analytics are those that focus on creating a culture of data-based decision making beyond that of the people analytics team itself.

FIG 6: Percentage of organisations reporting basic data literacy skills by maturity level and function (Source: Bersin by Deloitte)

14. NIGEL GUENOLE AND SHERI FEINZIG – How to Develop a Data-Savvy HR Department

Continuing the theme of data literacy, this article by Nigel Guenole and Sheri Feinzig first provides a smart categorisation of HR professionals that are analytically savvy, willing or resistant (see FIG 7), before describing ways you can hire for and/or develop analytical capability.

FIG 7: Three categories of HR professionals and their analytical capabilities (Source: Nigel Guenole and Sheri Feinzig)


I’m fortunate to spend a fair proportion of my time meeting with people analytics leaders and their teams. There are some seriously smart, passionate and collaborative people in these roles. Following are a selection of articles from people analytics leaders themselves, which taken together demonstrate that the space is in very capable hands.

15. AMIT MOHINDRA – Poetry in People Analytics

A beautifully written piece by Amit Mohindra, formerly people analytics leader at Apple. As Amit states at the outset “people analytics leaders are in the business of change management“. He then proceeds to outline a clear vision on how this can be achieved drawing a clever parallel with his boyhood poem of choice “Where the Mind is Without Fear”.

The data to insight is the easy part. The real challenge comes in driving action based on that insight. This is truly where we need HR leaders to lead with their head held high

16. GEETANJALI GAMEL & DAVID GREEN – How to create career paths for people analytics professionals

Geetanjali Gamel is passionate about her responsibility to develop the careers of her team in her role as Global Head of Workforce Analytics at Merck & Co. In this interview with me, Geetanjali outlines the ‘Three C Model’ (see FIG 8) she uses to engender the development of her team. Our interview also covers: i) key attributes required by the people analytics leader, ii) how to create a data-driven culture, iii) ethics, and iv) what lies ahead for the field.

FIG 8: Creating career paths in people analytics – The Three ‘C’ model (Source: Geetanjali Gamel)

17. PATRICK COOLEN & FRANK VAN DEN BRINK – HR is hitting a second wall: The Continuous Employee Listening Journey at ABN AMRO

This article introduces Patrick Coolen’s ‘Second Wall for People Analytics’, which examines the challenge of developing continuous analytics. This leads neatly to the central topic of the article – the continuous listening journey at ABN AMRO (see FIG 9). Frank van den Brink and Patrick define what ‘continuous listening’ means to the bank, describe the active and passive data sources in scope and then lay out the path ahead in this critical area of employee insight.

FIG 9: The continuous listening journey at ABN Amro (Source: Patrick Coolen and Frank van den Brink)

18. DAWN KLINGHOFFER, CANDICE YOUNG & XUE LIU – To Retain New Hires, Make Sure You Meet with Them in Their First Week

Onboarding is a critical but often overlooked topic with bad experience and processes contributing to unnecessary and avoidable attrition. This case study describes how Microsoft’s People Analytics team combined qualitative (survey of new hires at seven and 90 days) and quantitative (calendar and email) data with engagement data to reveal insights to help inform the onboarding process moving forward. The key discovery being that it is critical for a new employee to have a one-on-one meeting with their manager during their first week. Those who did saw early growth in three key areas: network strength and centrality, better quality meetings and early team collaboration. Dawn’s article on another project that sought to gather insights on ‘What makes a great manager’ is also a required read.

Employees who grow their internal network feel that they belong and may stay at the company longer

19. THOMAS RASMUSSEN – When People Analytics Grows Up

Thomas Rasmussen believes (as do I) that the majority of maturity models for people analytics are incomplete as they mostly focus on techniques rather than far more important aspects such as business outcomes. The model Thomas presents in this article is much more rooted in reality as the ‘happy toddlers’ become ‘grumpy teenagers’ before making the final transition to a mature people analytics team.

Once CHROs have had a top-notch People Analytics shop, they can’t imagine not having one

20. BRIAN RICHMOND – Predicting Employee Turnover Using R

A superb guide from data scientist Brian Richmond, who founded the people analytics team at WeWork, on how to predict employee turnover using R. I frequently get asked for practical guides such as this, and Brian’s article is detailed, well-written and highly educational. As Brian writes, employee turnover is a challenge for many organisations, so this is likely to be an indispensable resource for many budding people analysts.

21. SCOTT JUDD, ERIC O’ROURKE & ADAM GRANT – Employee Surveys Are Still One of the Best Ways to Measure Engagement

The Kinks once warned of the dangers of being a dedicated follower of fashion, and this excellent collaboration between Scott Judd and Eric O’Rourke of Facebook’s people analytics team and Adam Grant suggests that the days of the humble employee survey may not be over yet. The team found that at Facebook surveys are still great predictors of behaviour, provide employees with the chance to be heard and are a great vehicle for changing behaviours.

In an age where more employees are afraid that Big Brother is watching and companies have the tools to observe more than ever before, running a survey can signal that Big Brother is still human


As I wrote in ‘People Data for Good,’ ethics is arguably the most important element of people analytics and is a topic that continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing practitioners. It’s certainly a topic that we’ve explored in depth at Insight222 where we partnered with 15 of our member companies to co-create an ethics charter and guiding set of principles on the use of people data. Two superb articles on ethics from Josh Bersin and Ben Waber follow below:

22. JOSH BERSIN – People data: How far is too far?

Included as part of Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends for 2018, Josh Bersin describes the rapid growth of people analytics, the increase in the number and type of data sources being used, and the consequent risk this poses to privacy and data security. Josh highlights a potential blind spot (see FIG 10), where only a quarter of organisations are managing the potential impact of using people data on their consumer brand. 2018 was a particularly prolific year in terms of articles penned by Josh. Two other must-reads are his analyses of the ONA space (What Emails Reveal About Your Performance At Work) and employee engagement market (Employee Engagement 3.0)

Organisations are approaching a tipping point around the use of people data, and those that tilt too far could suffer severe employee, customer, and public backlash

FIG 10: When it comes to people data, organisations are actively managing risks around employee perceptions and legal liability, but only a quarter are managing the potential impact on their consumer brand (Source: Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends)

23. BEN WABER – The Happy Tracked Employee

Ben Waber takes a look at the multiple opportunities advances in technology and real-time data collection offer to the people analytics discipline. After outlining examples of how these technologies are e.g. helping reduce gender bias, fatigue and attrition, Ben walks through a playbook for the ethical and smart use of employee data (see FIG 11). As Ben concludes, the potential of people analytics to improve decision making is astounding, but failure by organisations to protect employee data could erode this potential for good.

FIG 11: A Playbook for the ethical, smart use of employee data (Source: created by David Green from Ben Waber’s ‘The Happy Tracked Employee’ article in HBR)


As I explained in The Role of ONA in People Analytics, Organisational Network Analysis is experiencing a renaissance as firms seek to gain insights into productivity and performance through analysing organisational networks and social capital. Three articles that document the burgeoning growth in ONA follow:

24. ANTONY EBELLE-EBANDA & GREG NEWMAN – Organisational Network Analysis and the Future of Work

Antony Ebelle-Ebanda and Greg Newman provide a terrific primer on what ONA is and why it is growing in importance. Most helpful are the practical examples offered on how ONA can be applied to support i) identification of HiPOs, ii) measurement of leadership behaviours (see example in FIG 12), iii) improving employee wellness, and iv) increasing diversity and inclusion.

FIG 12: Quantified evidence of leaderships behaviours (Source: Greg Newman, TrustSphere)

25. MICHAEL ARENA – Social Capital: The Next Frontier for HR

Michael Arena is leading the charge for ONA from a practitioner perspective in his work as Chief Talent Officer at GM and through his terrific book Adaptive Space. In this article, Michael contests that whilst human capital is undoubtedly a firm’s greatest asset, bringing inthe best people is only part of the solution, and that organisations must also bring out the best in people. To do this entails a new frontier, unleashing social capital potential. Michael then outlines two primary aspects of social capital —group cohesion and brokerage— that are particularly relevant to future HR practices.

In today’s dynamic world, HR clearly needs to shift beyond human capital centric practices, to explore the emerging frontier of social capital

26. PAUL LEONARDI & NOSHIR CONTRACTOR – Better People Analytics

In this brilliant HBR article Paul Leonardi and Noshir Contractor contend that most people analytics teams rely on a narrow approach restricted to data on individuals. They argue that if the field is going to live up to the hype, analytics teams need to also explore data on the interplay between people to understand how they interact, who has influence, what fosters innovation etc. The result is one of the best articles I’ve read yet on the case for passive ONA (or as the authors describe it in the article – ‘relational analytics’). The Six Signatures of Relational Analytics that is presented (see FIG 13) covering Ideation, Influence, Efficiency, Innovation, Silos and Vulnerability is a powerful starting point for people analytics teams looking to mine the digital exhaust of their workforce. The future’s bright, the future’s ONA.

FIG 13: Six signatures of relational analytics (Source: Paul Leonardi and Noshir Contractor)


In the Employee Experience edition of Data Driven HR, I explain that the potential of people analytics to help better understand, personalise and improve employee experience is considerable. Indeed, I believe this is THE biggest opportunity for people analytics. The first article below from Jeffrey Pfeffer helps establish the need for an employee centric approach and the four articles that follow provide an indication of the possibilities available and how people analytics can play a pivotal role.

27. JEFFREY PFEFFER & DYLAN WALSH – “The Workplace Is Killing People and Nobody Cares”

In this interview about his 2018 book ‘Dying for a Paycheck’, Jeffrey Pfeffer provides a damning indictment on how the workplace is literally killing people. Not only do modern management practices engender stress, damage engagement and destroy the mental and physical health of employees, Pfeffer also emphasises the massive harm it causes company performance too. This is why the field of people analytics is so important as done well it can shine a light on the damage the practices cited by Pfeffer cause to organisational performance, team dynamics and individual well-being. One can only hope that business leaders around the world read Pfeffer’s book, heed his warnings, say enough is enough and reverse the damage they are causing.

We are harming both company performance and individual well-being, and this needs to be the clarion call for us to stop. There is too much damage being done

28. VOLKER JACOBS – A Maturity Model for Employee Experience

One of the biggest focus areas for HR leaders continues to be the need to understand and improve employee experience. People analytics teams are increasingly at the forefront of efforts to analyse, design and personalise compelling work experiences across the employee lifecycle. As such, the maturity model outlined by Volker Jacobs (see also FIG 14) will undoubtedly assist many organisations in this effort. Look out for the examples provided on the ‘Moments that Matter’ in the employee journey. This is an approach and model that Volker and his team at TI People have created together with over 20 member companies including the likes of BMW, Bosch, Cisco, Roche and Zalando.

FIG 14: A maturity model for Employee Experience (Source: Volker Jacobs, TI People)

29. JASON McPHERSON – Predicting Glassdoor scores with engagement data

Culture Amp’s Chief Scientist, Jason McPherson examines the relationship between Glassdoor data and the annual benchmark data created from the aggregate engagement Culture Amp collects from its thousands of customers. The results are fascinating (see example in FIG 15) and as Jason writes point to some important trends, like the ability to use internal employee engagement data to predict how your company is perceived externally.

FIG 15: The relationship between engagement and Glassdoor ratings (Source: Jason McPherson, Culture Amp)

30. LAURA STEVENS – The 4 Guiding Principles of a Successful Continuous Listening Program

Laura Stevens has written a number of excellent articles on the role of people analytics in designing, measuring and deriving benefit from employee experience. This article, which provides four guiding principles to a successful continuous listening program – see the ‘4 C’s of Continuous Listening’ model in FIG 16 below – may well be her best yet.

 FIG 16: The 4 C’s of Continuous Listening (Source: Laura Stevens)

31. ANDREW MARRITT – How to understand open-question employee feedback

As Andrew Marritt writes, most large organisations have vast amounts of employee text feedback that thus far they’ve done very little with (FIG 17 provides some examples of the types of questions that can be answered with open-question employee text feedback). Given that this data is invariably the most valuable part of a questionnaire or survey, it is not surprising that many people analytics teams are looking to explore these potential gold mines. In the article, Andrew describes how to code or categorise employee feedback. The section on the difference between deductive and inductive coding is particularly illuminating even for this lay writer. For those that haven’t already subscribed to Andrew’s weekly Empirical HR newsletter, I strongly recommend you do.

FIG 17: Examples of questions that can be answered using text analysis (Source: Andrew Marritt)


The case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace is compelling – not just because it is the right thing to do, but because numerous studies suggest it can drive better business performance too. As I write in the Diversity and Inclusion edition of Data Driven HR, with advances in technology and the growth of people analytics, HR increasingly has the tools it needs to promote and embed D&I initiatives, and perhaps most critically prove that it can be a significant driver of business performance. Following are four superb articles on diversity.

32. McKINSEY – Delivering through Diversity

If you want to understand the business case for diversity, look no further than this study from McKinsey. The key headline is the strong correlation between diversity and company financial performance. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. For ethnic and cultural diversity, the likelihood of outperformance was even higher at 33%. The study is a treasure trove of information, and the advice offered (see FIG 18) on creating impact through diversity, which includes the use of analytics, is invaluable for HR and business leaders alike.

 FIG 18: Four imperatives for building a successful inclusion and diversity (I&D) strategy (Source: McKinsey)


33. MORTEN KAMP ANDERSEN – Why are women better leaders than men?

Morten Kamp Andersen presents some fascinating research on leadership effectiveness measured on 360 evaluations. The results (see FIG 19) show a stark difference between men and women with the gap widening as seniority increases. Morten’s article outlines how women scored significantly higher on 12 out of 16 competencies (hard competencies as well as soft). Morten then examines four possible reasons for the results and provides a view on the effectiveness (or otherwise) of training to root out unconscious bias.

FIG 19: Leadership effectiveness measured on 360 degree evaluations (Source: Zenger Folkman)


34. STACIA SHERMAN GARR – Diversity and Inclusion Technology: Could this be the Missing Link? Article | Research

Stacia Sherman Garr summarises the highlights of her research collaboration with Mercer into the technologies that are helping drive diversity and inclusion forward. The research paper itself describes over 100 HR technology firms where diversity and inclusion is a focus or feature of their product as well as presenting numerous case studies. FIG 20 illustrates the focus areas of these technologies.

FIG 20: Categories of D&I Technology Within Talent Management Activities (Source: Stacia Sherman Garr, RedThread Research and Mercer)


35. SUVARNA JOSHI – Measuring Diversity & Inclusion using Organisational Network Analysis

In this article, Suvarna Joshi describes four examples of how passive ONA can provide fresh sets of data to help organisations measure the impact of diversity and inclusion. These include i) Understanding gender differences in networking behaviour, ii) Measuring inclusion of diverse groups, and; iii) Identifying hidden stars (see FIG 21).

FIG 21: Significant gender differences in networking behaviour (Source: TrustSphere)


I’m approached at least three times a week by organisations looking to get people analytics off the ground. The first point to make is it’s never too late to start! The second is that there are an increasing abundance of resources to help. Five examples follow below to which I would also add the recent ‘Getting started with people analytics: a practitioner’s guide’ guide written by Sam Hill and Ed Houghton on behalf of the CIPD.

36. RICHARD ROSENOW – People Analytics Starter Kit

Richard Rosenow has rapidly become a tour de force within our space. This article is the ideal starting place for anyone interested in data driven HR. Richard collects together the best people analytics articles, case studies, books, podcasts, courses, advisory firms and conferences. It’s a veritable treasure trove of information that demands a mandatory bookmark.

 In the past few years, People Analytics has gone from a niche field to a mainstream focus for HR departments globally

37. GIOVANNI EVERDUIN – In Analytics, the Questions Come First 

Giovanni Everduin provides three steps to getting started with people analytics and gives primacy to formulating questions that are not just aimed at HR but are ones that the organisation’s leadership team want answered. Giovanni, who built people analytics from the ground-up at Tanfeeth, also highlights the importance of balancing small vs. big data as well as the imperative of getting the buy-in and active participation of key stakeholders within your company. Without this, you will not succeed.

 Without relevant, strategic questions, analytics is a means to no end

38. TRACEY SMITH – Practical Analytics: The Value of Actions

Having good business acumen is a critical element of delivering value with people analytics, but what does this mean? As Tracey Smith describes, good business acumen essentially means “having the experience and wisdom to see the bigger picture and to be able to evaluate (in the case of analytics) whether a project is worth doing”. Tracey then proceeds to provide some helpful guidance on how to establish whether a project has value as well as some practical steps to consider around areas such as privacy and security and the all- important question as to whether the organisation can/will act on the findings. For those that haven’t subscribed already, Tracey’s Numerical Insights blog is an absolute gold mine of material on data-driven HR.

 If you can’t or won’t act on it, don’t waste time and money analysing it

39. MAX BLUMBERG – Scientific People Analytics for HR Series

In this four-part series for HR Zone, Max Blumberg outlines his model of Scientific People Analytics (SPA), and the many benefits it brings to businesses. Part 1 provides the rationale behind the methodology. Part 2 explains why SPA is useful for supporting human capital decisions made by organisational managers. Part 3 presents a methodology for deploying scientific people analytics – see FIG 22 below, and Part 4 compares scientific people analytics to non-scientific people analytics approaches.

FIG 22: Model for Scientific People Analytics (Source: Max Blumberg)

40. DAVID CREELMAN – A different kind of dashboard

What is the secret of a good HR dashboard? That is the question pondered by David Creelman in his article. He argues that instead of continually falling into the trap of redefining the right metrics, tirelessly cleaning data and inventing new visualisations we should instead base our dashboards on questions. Creelman goes on to provide an example (see FIG 23) emphasising the need to compose your dashboard with the right questions, as a precursor to then using data to provide answers.

FIG 23: Example of a HR dashboard composed of questions (Source: David Creelman and Peter Navin – The CMO of People: Manage Employees Like Customers With an Immersive Predictable Experience That Drives Productivity and Performance)


I collected together my 30+ articles from last year in my 2018 Review. Five articles to read alongside those selected above that readers may want to investigate are:

The role of Organisational Network Analysis in People Analytics

My primer on ONA intends to demystify the topic as well as answer the following questions I am regularly asked on the subject: What is ONA? Why is ONA rising in importance? What is the difference between active and passive ONA? What business questions can I answer with ONA? Who are the vendors driving innovation in the ONA space? What case studies and resources are available?

Don’t forget the ‘H’ in HR

In this article, I examine some of the ethical dilemmas of working with people data, summarise research I contributed to on the topic whilst I was at IBM and offer guidance to organisations looking to embed an ethical approach to their people analytics programs.

The role of the People Analytics leader (with Arun Chidambaram)

A two-part series together with Arun Chidambaram, Global Head of People Analytics at Pfizer. Part 1 explored How to build capability with Part 2 focused on Creating organisational culture.

FIG 24: The Inter- and Intra-Company responsibilities of the People Analytics Leader (Source: Arun Chidambaram)

Modern learning in the age of analytics and intelligent machines (with Trish Uhl)

In this article for UNLEASH, I interviewed Trish Uhl, one of the leading experts globally on learning and development. The insights and examples Trish provided are fascinating and cover areas such as: i) the key challenges in the L&D space that people analytics is helping organisations to address, ii) linkage to business outcomes and employee experience, iii) how analytics and AI is revolutionising how L&D programs are designed, delivered and evaluated, and iv) advice to HR leaders looking to apply people analytics in the L&D domain.

Seven steps to getting started with People Analytics

I’m often asked how an organisation can get its people analytics program off the ground. This article looks at seven initial steps.


Finally, thanks to all the authors featured here and also across the monthly collections from 2018 (see: December, NovemberOctoberSeptemberAugustJulyJuneMayAprilMarchFebruaryand January). Your passion, knowledge and expertise continues to inspire. I’d also like to thank a few people who regularly take the time to share and comment on my articles: Dave Millner, Caroline Brant, Hung Lee, Nick Holley, Manoj Kumar, Michael Carty, Priya Bagga, Soumyasanto Sen, Jeff Wellstead, Kevin Moore, Stela Lupushor, Angie Verros, Michal Gradstein, Karen Azulai, Luk Smeyers, Lewis Garrad, Tom Haak, Linda Jonas, Andy Spence, Evan Sinar and numerous others. Your support means a lot.

Happy New Year to readers. May 2019 bring you health, happiness, success and people data for good!

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