How People Analytics Helps with Agile Org Design

Original Article:

What image comes to your mind when you hear the words “Future of Work”? Bots running a factory without humans? Flying cars so there is no more traffic? During the pandemic and the largest experiment of remote work, in one way or another, we are all shaping the future of work. The global crisis has challenged tradition assumptions on the who, how, where, when, and what of work. In fact, many corporations have been reconsidering their commercial footprint for post-Covid because there is clear evidence that “working from home” has worked, so far. As companies try to survive the pandemic with changing consumer demands, many have started restructuring the workforce as well. Even in industries that are thriving during the pandemic, such as parts of the food industry, pivots may still be needed to quickly redeploy talent from products and services with lower demand to those in higher demand. Corporations have long engaged external consulting firms to help with org design as part of restructuring efforts.  

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When you hear “org design”, your mind may immediate be thinking about boxes and lines redrawn on an org chart. What if I tell you, it’s not really about the structure? Instead, org design is much more about the skills, work activities, and how interactions, collaboration, and connections occur within the organization? In a world where changes are the constant, people analytics offers companies new capabilities to be much more agile with their org design. Below I describe a 3 step-process of how people analytics can help.

First, translate business strategy for the future org into skills requirements. If your business strategy for the future is to accelerate digital transformation and monetize on data assets, for instance, you will want to quantify the specific digital/data skills that will ensure you can deliver for the business in the future. This will require the collaboration of business leaders, people analytics leader, talent management and learning & development teams. Additionally, the talent acquisition team and external labor market insights can provide useful information on emerging skills. These insights can also help inform the buy vs. build decision later depending on the availability of emerging skills on the market and the cost of acquiring such skills externally. 

Second, assess your current state. Traditionally a skills inventory may involve self-assessments and manager-assessments. Qualitative interviews can also be used. These are time-consuming and often cannot be kept up-to-date without significant effort and time. To meet the agility and scalability needs, some organizations use AI, Natural Language Processing (NLP) specifically, to infer skills based on each individual’s experience, including career history, learning & development data, and feedback data. While the inferred skills may not be 100% accurate, they can provide a strong starting point if some validation and adjustments are required. Check out the myHRfuture article on this topic for more details.

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Third, identify gaps and determine a buy/build/borrow approach to close the gaps in time to ensure the new organization can deliver the business strategy. As you put the new organization together, think beyond the structure and give more consideration to work activity, complementary skills, and the extent of connection and collaboration. As you place existing employees into the new org chart, make sure you include people who not only have the skills but also those who are passionate and energized by the work. In restructuring and re-organizations, sometimes employees are left feeling like they don’t have a choice, which reduces their level of engagement. Employee profiles within your HCM could offer insights on individuals’ career and development interest. Alternatively, qualitative data from performance management and other feedback systems could provide useful information. As I mentioned in a recent interview “one piece of data that we often miss is – what do employees want to do, and where do they want to go next? We get so caught up sometimes in trying to create a career path for employees that we forget to ask them if they’re interested and what they want to do.”

Additionally, organizational network analysis (ONA) could help assess the success of the new org. When you put together individuals who were not at all connected prior to the change into the same team, the onboarding and assimilation may take a while longer. It is important to ensure the employees in the new org are set up for success. ONA could provide insights on the speed of assimilation of new team members as well as the leaders. Overlaying ONA with employee engagement and feedback data, you could get a holistic picture of how the teams in the new org are doing.

Org design can be much more agile with the help of people analytics. The above methods only represent a portion of what’s possible with people analytics. How will you approach the next org design? 

For other readings related to people analytics, check out:


I am the Global Head of People Analytics at the Kraft Heinz Company. A Ph.D. economist turned litigation consultant and now an analytics executive and keynote speaker. Connect with me on LinkedIn here:

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my current employer or former employers.


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