Published and written by David Green
In 2021, as it had done in the preceding year, HR continued to rise to the occasion as firms and their employees continued to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. HR has thrived during this tumultuous time in companies where the function is well led, has strong stakeholder equity, has prioritised employee wellbeing and has robust capability in people analytics.
Jonathan Ferrar and I saw this for ourselves as we researched our book, Excellence in People Analytics, which was published by Kogan Page in 2021. We concluded that the pandemic had propelled people analytics into a new era – The Age of Value, where the onus is on delivering value for the business rather than HR. This is demonstrated throughout the 30 case studies that feature in the book.
The articles I’ve selected in my year-end collection complement Excellence in People Analytics as they also collectively point to the business value that HR can provide. I’ve been publishing a collection of the ‘best’ articles of the preceding 12 months for eight years – see the collections for 2014, 2015, 2016 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, and following herein are my choices for the 60 best articles of 2021.
I have assembled the 60 articles into ten sections: i) the future of work, hybrid work and return to workplace, ii) the ‘Great Resignation’, iii) creating value with people analytics, iv) examples of work from people analytics leaders, v) workforce planning, skills and internal mobility, vi) the future of HR, vii) leadership and culture, viii) diversity, equity and inclusion, ix) employee experience, and; x) ethics, trust and technology.
In the year ahead, as I wrote in my 2022 predictions for HR, I expect to see HR play a pivotal role in building the future post-pandemic organisation. The selections below help point the way ahead. I hope you enjoy reading, and if you do, please subscribe to my weekly Digital HR Leaders newsletter, which is published every Tuesday via myHRfuture.
I) FUTURE OF WORK, HYBRID WORK AND RETURN TO WORKPLACE
HEATHER E. McGOWAN – The Future of Work is the Human Capital Era: How We Got Here
The perfect article to kick-off my round-up of 2021 comes from futurist Heather McGowan. In her article for Forbes, Heather articulates her belief that the pandemic has shifted us into a new age: the human capital era; and explains how we got here. As ever, Heather draws on a number of sources to weave a compelling narrative complete with powerful visualisations. Highlights include: how we have treated humans as a cost to contain rather than as the main generator of value (90% of S&P enterprise value is now generated from human capital – see FIG 1), we have under invested in humans halting social mobility (In 1950 you had a 90% chance of doing better than your parents, by 1980 that dropped to 50%), racism is not only immoral, it is expensive (costing $16 trillion over the past 20 years), income inequality depresses growth (perhaps as much as 1% of GDP), and much more. A history lesson and a signpost to what promises to be a better future.
FIG 1: The source of value creation has inverted from tangible/physical capital to intangible/human capital (Source: Heather McGowan)
AARON DE SMET, BONNIE DOWLING, MIHIR MYSORE & ANGELIKA REICH – It’s time for leaders to get real about hybrid
Some of the best research and writing about hybrid has come from McKinsey. Drawing on studies on what employees and executives are saying about hybrid work, the writers conclude that this is a once in a generation opportunity to: “Create a new, more effective operating model that works for companies and people navigating a world of increasing uncertainty.” Unfortunately, there is a wide (and growing) disconnect between employers, who are ready to get back to significant in-person presence, and employees, who aren’t (see FIG 2). Cue the hype about the ‘Great Resignation’. Instead, leaders should focus on deeper listening and meeting their workforces where they are today – and embrace the opportunity to experiment.
FIG 2: Employer and Employee preferences on hybrid (Source: McKinsey)
GERALD C. KANE, RICH NANDA, ANH PHILLIPS & JONATHAN COPULSKY – Redesigning the Post-Pandemic Workplace
Pretty much every people analytics team we work with at Insight222 is helping to shape their firm’s approach to hybrid work. As the writers of this MIT Sloan Management Review article suggest, this provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to innovate and reenvisage the workplace. Armed with early data from Asia (via Ben Waber and Humanyze) that employees who returned to the office one or two days a week increased the number of serendipitous connections by about 25%, three considerations are tabled for leaders as they contemplate future ways of working. These are: i) enable flexibility in the use of office space, ii) continue to evolve virtual work, and iii) digitally support co-located work.
JOHN W. BOUDREAU & PETER M. RAMSTAD – COVID’s Hidden Promise: Future Work Design Is Agile Innovation
Continuing the reinvention of work theme, John Boudreau and Peter Ramstad urge firms to take the lessons of agile innovation (e.g. experiment and fail fast) and apply them to future work design eschewing the one-size-fits-all policies of the many. Instead Boudreau and Ramstad recommend a much more appealing policy: “We don’t know what the future of work will be. However, we DO know that you have all learned to innovate continually, as you have crafted your work to meet the unprecedented opportunities and challenges of the pandemic. So, instead of a policy applied to everyone, our ‘policy’ will be to equip you and your managers to design your work through agile experimentation.” They then explain how HR can lead agile innovation in work design (“HR can become a hub for agile experimentation and learning applied to work design”).
HR can become a hub for agile experimentation and learning applied to work design
TOM DAVENPORT & THOMAS REDMAN – Experiments and Data for Post-COVID-19 Work Arrangements
Tom Davenport and Thomas Redman espouse the need for firms to eschew guesswork and instead create experiments and use data to drive decision making on return to workplace strategies. The article provides insights from Alexis Fink (on the work Facebook is doing to understand whether being co-located with a manager is crucial to high performance ratings and promotions) and Jeremy Shapiro (whose studies at Merck point to the workforce being heterogeneous and that no single policy will be appropriate for all employees). Davenport and Redman then provide guidance on how to successfully set up and run an experiment of this nature.
Work arrangements adopted after the pandemic are likely to persist for decades, so it’s worth the trouble to get them right
LYNDA GRATTON – How to Do Hybrid Right
The shift to virtual working has helped the majority of employees experience the benefit of more flexibility in where and when they work. As companies plan and implement their return to workplace and future ways of working strategies, they have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset work under a hybrid model. In her HBR cover story, Lynda Gratton explains that to do this successfully, leaders will need to do two things: design hybrid work arrangements with individual human concerns in mind, not just institutional ones; and conceptualise new work arrangements around the axes of place and time (see FIG 3).
When designing flexible work arrangements, focus on individual human concerns, not just institutional ones
FIG 3: Work arrangements in place and time (Source: Lynda Gratton, HBR)
KATHLEEN HOGAN, DAWN KLINGHOFFER, JOE WHITTINGHILL, DAVID ROCK | MICROSOFT – To Thrive in Hybrid Work, Build a Culture of Trust and Flexibility
Every day since the start of the pandemic, Microsoft has conducted an opt-in survey of a random sample of 2,500 employees, which provides insights that helps shape decisions on topics such as return-to-office and hybrid working. Microsoft has generously shared what they are learning “in an effort to help organizations navigate two trends reshaping the workforce: The Hybrid Paradox and the Great Reshuffle.” There is so much to absorb here, including insights on: i) The Hybrid Paradox (“In which people want the flexibility to work from anywhere, but simultaneously crave more in-person connection”), ii) There’s no one size fits all approach – see FIG 4 (“Some employees cite work-life balance, focus time, and meetings as reasons to go into the office. Others see those as reasons to stay home”), and iii) The role of the manager becomes even more important in hybrid work, with Microsoft’s Head of People Analytics, Dawn Klinghoffer, highlighting that: “As we move to hybrid, we have to continue to be intentional about everything. Employees are looking to their managers to see how they’re going to behave and respond.” For more, listen to Kathleen Hogan on the Digital HR Leaders Podcast: Microsoft’s Chief People Officer on Creating a Data Driven Culture in HR.
FIG 4: Source: Microsoft
ROB CROSS, MIKE BENSON, JACK KOSTAL AND RJ MILNOR – Collaboration Overload Is Sinking Productivity
Rob Cross teams up with Mike Benson, Jack Kostal and RJ Milnor to examine ways to mitigate collaboration creep. Given that email, instant messaging, phone and video calls consume a staggering 85% of most people’s work weeks their research is very welcome indeed. They dig into why people take on requests despite “…knowing with every fiber of their being that they should say no” as well as provide examples on how to combat these challenges such as email triage rules or protected times for focused work. The article also offers case studies on how General Mills (where Mike and Jack work) and Uber (Where RJ leads people analytics) have tried to understand and tackle this problem. If you enjoy this article, I recommend getting a copy of Rob’s recently published book: Beyond Collaboration Overload, and listening to him on a recent episode of the Digital HR Leaders Podcast: How Can You Reduce Collaborative Overload?
The team at Uber discovered a strong relationship between employees’ amount of focus time and their productivity, as measured in employee surveys.
ALEXIS SAUSSINAN – Realizing “Future Ways of Working”? Only with accelerating HR Digitization!
Alexis Saussinan shares insights from Merck Group’s Future Ways of Working initiative, which is designed to shape changes in “the way we work, learn and lead in the future.” As befits his role as Global Head of Digital HR Technologies and People Analytics, Alexis highlights digitalisation as a driving force behind the initiative explaining that: “It is crucial to ensure we make the best out of data and technology to drive high business impact and deliver best-in-class user experience across all our people technologies.” Alexis then provides two examples that harness machine learning to equip leaders with the right data and insights to make people decisions at Merck Group: i) factors of employee engagement that have the most significant impact on retention (see FIG 5) and, ii) an HR chatbot called Ad@m. Both examples support Merck Group’s mantra: “No Business Plan without a People Plan, and no People Plan without data.” To learn more about his work, listen to Alexis on the Digital HR Leaders Podcast: Creating Business Impact Through People Data and Technology.
FIG 5: Influencing factors of employee engagement on flight risk (Source: Alexis Saussinan)
II) THE GREAT RESIGNATION
AARON DE SMET, BONNIE DOWLING, MARINO MUGAYAR-BALDOCCHI AND BILL SCHANINGER – ‘Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction’? The choice is yours
Is ‘The Great Resignation’ a threat or an opportunity? This thoughtful piece from McKinsey asserts that: “Organizations that take the time to learn why (employees are quitting) —and act thoughtfully—will have an edge in attracting and retaining talent.” The article goes on to present research into the nature and characteristics of what McKinsey is terming ‘The Great Attrition’ (“The bottom line: the Great Attrition is happening, it’s widespread and likely to persist—if not accelerate—and many companies don’t understand what’s really going on”) and then examines ways companies can work together with employees to transform the threat of mass attrition into ‘The Great Attraction’: “By seizing this unique moment, companies could gain an edge in the race to attract, develop, and retain the talent they need to create a thriving postpandemic organization.”
By not understanding what their employees are running from, and what they might gravitate to, company leaders are putting their very businesses at risk
FIG 6: Employers do not fully understand why employees are leaving (Source: McKinsey)
IAN COOK – Who Is Driving the Great Resignation?
In his article for Harvard Business Review, Ian Cook shares several key insights from Visier’s in-depth analysis of more than 9 million employee records at 4,000 global companies, and offers a three-step plan to help employers take a more data-driven approach to retention: Quantify the problem and its business impact, identify the root causes and implement targeted retention campaigns).
DAVE ULRICH – Seven Talent Responses to the Great Resignation
As usual, Dave Ulrich strikes a sensible chord by reminding us in his article that: “The Great Resignation should not be a surprise.” With over 18 months of virtual work and an absence of physical connection with colleagues, Dave further explains that: “Employees feel less attached to their teams and organizations and more willing to explore job and career options.” Dave then explores seven responses (e.g. reinventing the work setting and personalising work) to The Great Resignation and provides a brief assessment (see FIG 7) for reimagining talent practices.
FIG 7: Reimagining Talent Practices (Source: Dave Ulrich)
MEREDITH METSKER – The Great Resignation is happening. It’s not as bad as you think
Writing for labour market analytics firm Claro, Meredith Metsker pops the ‘Great Resignation’ balloon by highlighting two glaring pieces of the jigsaw that are missing amidst all the hype and sensationalist headlines: i) many of the headlines stem from survey results with absurdly small sample sizes, and ii) these surveys measure intent not action. Yes, resignations are increasing and passive job seeking behaviour is on the rise (see FIG 8) but as Meredith writes: “The situation is not as apocalyptic as recent surveys have led us to believe.”
FIG 8: Job seeking trend (Source: Claro)
III) CREATING VALUE WITH PEOPLE ANALYTICS
JONATHAN FERRAR, CAROLINE STYR AND NAOMI VERGHESE – Accelerating People Analytics: A Data Driven Culture for HR Article | Full Report
The Insight222 People Analytics Trends 2021 study highlights that people analytics continues to grow in size – and in importance. To be successful, the people analytics leader needs to continue to invest in people analytics professionals and technology, as well as take lead responsibility to create a data driven culture. The CHRO demands this culture across HR so that people analytics is not just the preserve of the C-Suite. The use of data and analytics should be used for in-the-moment people decisions across the enterprise, whilst allowing the C-Suite to also tackle the most complex workplace and societal topics of the current era – hybrid working, mental wellbeing and diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging. The key findings of the study are provided in the article, with full detail provided in the report.
Leading Companies invest more in people, have bigger teams, productise analytics at scale and have a data driven culture for HR
FIG 9: Three Components of a Data-Driven Culture in HR (Source: Insight222 People Analytics Trends, 2021)
STACIA GARR AND PRIYANKA MEHROTRA – Unlocking the Hidden C-Suite Superpower: People Analytics – Article (Gated) | Download Report
A fascinating report from the team at RedThread Research, which studies the different responsibilities of the C-Suite (“inviting insights, setting expectations”), chief human resources officers (“providing context, visibility and resources”), and people analytics leaders (“framing ambiguity, scaling insights and truth”) – and the partnership required between the three – to drive value and impact from people analytics. The role of each stakeholder is explored in depth with a helpful ‘do’s and don’ts’ provided for each (see FIG 10 for the CHRO below). Features case studies and insights by people analytics leaders including Jeremy Shapiro, Esther Bongenaar, RJ Milnor, Courtney McMahon and Jacob Jeppesen.
FIG 10: CHRO Do’s and Don’ts for People Analytics (Source: RedThread Research)
In the Epilogue of Excellence in People Analytics, Jonathan Ferrar and I explore four themes that will drive the continued growth of people analytics. One of these is centred on how people analytics can help investors and boards transform human capital from an intangible asset to one that can be measured. In her article, Amy Armitage digs further into this topic through exploring sustainable Human Capital Management (HCM): what it is, why now is the time to get on board and six principles to drive it (see FIG 11).
FIG 11: Six principles of sustainable human capital management (Source: Amy Armitage)
THOMAS C. REDMAN – What’s Holding Your Data Program Back?
Tom Redman synthesises findings from his research into why, so many years into the digital revolution, progress in the data space is so slow. His headline result is stark: “Today’s organizations are unfit for data. Until companies address the underlying issues, progress will remain halting and uncertain.” Tom then outlines five areas key to success covering: data quality, putting data to work (“Unless companies put data to work in ways that return value, there is little business benefit”), organisational capability, technology and defence ( encompassing “all of the organizational tasks related to minimizing risk, including security, privacy, and ethics”). He then brings each of these to life using powerful visualisations afforded by force field analysis (FFA) – see example in FIG 12.
Unless companies put data to work in ways that return value, there is little business benefit
FIG 12: Forces Impacting Putting Data to Work in Organizations (Source: Tom Redman)
JONATHAN FERRAR – How is the Role of the People Analytics Leader Evolving? | SERENA HUANG – My First 100 Days as the New Head of People Analytics & HR Tech
In the survey for our People Analytics Trends 2021 study, we found 35% of people analytics leaders had changed roles in the prior 12 months. In his article, Jonathan Ferrar provides guidance on how people analytics leaders in their new roles can adopt a business-first approach to i) connect with stakeholders, ii) define the ambition, and; iii) prioritise ‘Quick Wins’ and ‘Big Bets (see FIG 13). Jonathan weaves in case studies from our book Excellence in People Analytics from Piyush Mathur, Madhura Chakrabarti, Suku Mariappan and Cory Ingram. The perfect complement to Jonathan’s article comes from a head of people analytics who has recently moved role. Serena Huang writes about her first 100 days as Head of People Analytics and HR Tech at PayPal, emphasising that meeting 1:1 with senior stakeholders outside HR: “…has been tremendously helpful in creating a roadmap where we as a team can add value to the enterprise.”
FIG 13: The People Analytics Leader – First 100 Days: Adopt a ‘Business First’ approach (Source, Jonathan Ferrar, Insight222)
IV) EXAMPLES OF WORK FROM PEOPLE ANALYTICS LEADERS
Perhaps the best way of highlighting the benefits of people analytics is to highlight examples of work and guidance from practitioners themselves. The examples that follow not only demonstrate the value of people analytics but that the field is in very capable hands.
DAWN KLINGHOFFER – Hybrid Tanked Work-Life Balance. Here’s How Microsoft Is Trying to Fix It.
After Microsoft went virtual during the pandemic, research by their people analytics team found that employees’ satisfaction with work-life balance dropped by 13 percentage points. To find out why this was happening, the team studied the aggregate and de-identified collaboration activity and survey data of thousands of Microsoft employees over the course of many months. The major drivers of the fall in work-life balance were found to be over-collaboration, lack of uninterrupted focus and skipping time off. In her article for Harvard Business Review, Dawn Klinghoffer, the Head of People Analytics, outlines the four strategies that Microsoft has subsequently rolled out through managers to make more systemic change: i) prioritising work (“one of the most important things a manager can do to improve work-life balance is to help their team prioritize”), ii) reevaluating meetings, iii) protecting focus time (“more focus time means more progress, which means less overwhelm”), and iv) encouraging vacation.
The most powerful thing I’ve learned from our study of work-life balance is that we as managers have an opportunity to challenge the status quo and say, “this can be better.”
PATRICK COOLEN AND JAAP VELDKAMP – 8 Big Tickets for People Analytics
Patrick Coolen has featured in my annual collection of resources every year since it started in 2014. During this time, he has shared several insights tracking the growth and progress of people analytics and fact-based HR at ABN Amro, where he is the Global Head of People Analytics. In his most recent article, written with his colleague Jaap Veldkamp, Patrick shares the ‘eight big tickets’ for people analytics for the bank over the next year. The first three ‘tickets’ are: i) Analytics for personalising career journeys and learning (“One important rule we apply is that the personalized analytical services we provide need to benefit our employees”), ii) Analytics for skills (“Based on a skill engine, we are able to see where specific skills are over- or underrepresented in our organization”), and iii) Analytics for quantifying the business value of HR (“The starting point in everything we do is to understand how we create business value”). To hear more from Patrick, listen to our discussion on the Digital HR Leaders Podcast: How ABN AMRO Delivers Business Value Using People Analytics.
ALESSANDRO LINARI – My Experience in Building a People Analytics Function
A brilliant article from Alessandro Linari, who has spent the past three-and-a-half years founding and building the people analytics team at Vodafone. As he explains, introducing people analytics into an organisation isn’t easy especially with minimal budget, but it can be done: with the right skills, support from senior stakeholders, and a relentless focus on business outcomes. Alessandro recounts the different challenges involved in ‘early-stage people analytics’ (“The first step consists of setting up a small function whose sole focus is to identify opportunities to prove value to the business”) and ‘mature people analytics’ (“Once the value is proven, the team can grow and take on wider responsibilities, including accelerating the transformation of HR into a truly strategic and data driven function”) and is laced full of practical guidance. Alessandro’s closing advice of: “Making growth (of the people analytics function) conditional to delivering value creates a sense of urgency that helps the team focus on what really matters” is a particularly astute observation.
FIG 14: Early-stage and Mature People Analytics (Source: Alessandro Linari)
ASHISH PARULEKAR – Using People Analytics to Improve the Productivity of Knowledge Workers – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
As Ashish Parulekar (Head of Recruiting Analytics at Capital One) writes in the first of his fascinating three-part series, identifying “How to sustainably improve the productivity of knowledge workers is the big unsolved problem in People Analytics.” Ashish then proceeds to apply three problem solving techniques to answering his question: i) Cartesian (“Divide a complex problem into components which are less complex and repeat until the parts become simple to solve”), ii) Systems thinking (“Understand how different components relate to each other i.e. dependencies, relative importance, relative effort”), iii) Math (“An equation that helps the different components add up into the final product”).
FIG 15: First 3 levels of the productivity issue tree with components (Source: Ashish Parulekar)
PETER ROMERO & ANDREAS KYPRIANOU – Systems Thinking In People Analytics – Or: Exploring The Art Of Ripening An Avocado
Two people analytics leaders combine forces in a fascinating article, which earns two ticks immediately for i) eschewing people analytics maturity curves (you know the one…), and ii) advocating a systems thinking over a linear thinking approach. As Peter and Andreas explain, linear thinking is premised on a single cause having a single effect while systems thinking: “Offers a wide array of diagnostic tools for better understanding the reasons for why things happen, gauging the implications of responding or not, and deciding about optimal responses.” The article explores the systems thinking philosophy and its applicability to people analytics as well as providing a practical set of tools and visualisations (see example in FIG 16) you can adopt when it comes to common HR challenges.
FIG 16: Systems Thinking in Machine Learning (Source: Peter Romero and Andreas Kyprianou
One word that could be used to sum up Keith McNulty is prolific. As well as leading McKinsey’s Global Talent Science and Analytics function, he has published not one but two books on people analytics during the pandemic: Handbook of Regression Modeling in People Analytics and Handbook of Graphs and Networks in People Analytics. Keith also writes regular columns via Medium, where this recent article on four logic traps that analytics professionals (and others) often fall into was published.
ADAM McKINNON & SAMBIT DAS – Measuring Impact in HR: A Practical Demonstration
As most of us would testify, measuring impact in human resources can be challenging. In their highly practical article (including R code and visualisations – see example in FIG 17), Adam McKinnon and Sambit Das provide an example of how people analytics can be used to support an investment decision in HR (on different modes of training).
FIG 17: Difference in assessment results by training delivery format, example (Source: Adam D. McKinnon and Sambit Das)
RICHARD ROSENOW – Buy-Side People Analytics
Richard Rosenow, who does so much to further our field through his thoughtful LinkedIn posts, advocates strongly in his article that HR business partners should not be overlooked in a people analytics delivery model. He outlines six steps to invest in what he terms ‘buy-side people analytics’ including i) educating HRBPs and CoEs about people analytics (“This is almost as important if not more important than your first People Analytics hire”), ii) introducing self-service tools (“Creating intuitive products for access but also enabling self-service through training”), iii) Rotations (encompassing HRBPs spending time in people analytics teams and vice-versa), and iv) Accountability from CHROs (“Hold HRBPs and COE leaders accountable for understanding their data”).
CHRISTIAN OTTO – A 6-step-approach for People Analytics
Christian Otto shares the six-step approach (see FIG 18) he and the people analytics team at Infineon use to guide their work: “The steps are designed to ensure a scientific, analytically driven, fact-based approach to decision making.” The first step involves identifying and clarifying the problem you are trying to solve before formulating hypotheses that can be tested with analytics (i.e. ‘Don’t start with the data, start with the business problem that needs to be solved!’)
FIG 18: A 6-step-approach for People Analytics (Source: Christian Otto)
V) FUTURE OF HR
BCG | JENS BAIER, JEAN-MICHEL CAYE, RAINER STRACK, PHILIPP KOLO, AMIT KUMAR, FANG RUAN, BOB MORTON, ANTHONY ARIGANELLO, JORGE JAUREGUI, LUCAS VAN WEES, TRENT BURNER & WILSON WONG – Creating People Advantage 2021: The Future of People Management Priorities – Summary | Full Report
BCG’s Creating People Advantage series of reports is always worth digging into, and the 2021 edition, which covers 6,600 participants across 113 countries is packed full of insights. The report identifies five priorities for people management leaders (and therefore the focus of HR): i) Put employees at the centre (personalised experiences and solutions), ii) Shape the future of work (“Foster affiliation by sharpening the organization’s purpose and culture to inspire employees”), iii) Accelerate in digital (“HR must step up its capabilities in digital, IT, and analytics to future-proof the organization’s workplace, improve employee experiences, and play a more strategic role”), iv) Set new paradigms for skills and employees (“This entails adequate workforce planning, sophisticated upskilling and reskilling opportunities, and a holistic talent management approach.”) and v) Transform the people management function (“HR must become the motor of a continuously changing organization that serves employees.”). As ever, there are some great visualisations to pore over too.
HR must become the motor of a continuously changing organization that serves employees
FIG 19: Future importance of people clusters by country and overall ranking (Source: BCG)
GAURAV GUPTA, MARIA NEICU AND RUUD RIKHOF – The Future of HR seen through two different lenses
An excellent study, led by Kennedy Fitch, which scrutinises the future of human resources and its role (and relevancy) in the future of work. The report blends insights from CHROs (such as Anette Bohm, Laure Roberts, Rosa Lee and Krish Shankar) and industry experts (such as Dave Ulrich, Josh Bersin, Ravin Jesuthasan, Tom Haak and Volker Jacobs), with both groups agreeing that providing that HR seizes the opportunity and gets it right, strategic value will be derived for both the organisation and its workforce: “The hyper-acceleration of digitalisation has significant ramifications on the who, what and how of work. With pre-defined career paths no longer matching the needs and aspirations of employees, greater personalisation will allow individuals to customise their professional journey. The concept of flexibility has become much broader and more deeply embedded within organisational and individual decision-making.”
CAROLINE STYR & IAN BAILIE – Is HR Ready for the Digital Age?
What can the behavioural traits of HR professionals tell us about the function’s potential to adapt in the digital age? Insight222’s 2021 study: HR in the Digital Age presents Nine Skills of the Future HR Professional (see FIG 20). In their article, highlighting some of the findings of the research, Caroline and Ian present a new behavioural profile of the HR professional and discuss the HR professional’s appetite to upskill into a data-driven, experience led and business focused function.
FIG 20: Nine Skills of the Future HR Professional (Source: Insight222)
DAVE ULRICH, NORM SMALLWOOD & ALAN TODD – HR’s Reinvention: Moving from Benchmarking and Best Practices to Guidance
Every fortnight, Dave Ulrich publishes a new article on LinkedIn. Given that each article is a compelling read, selecting just one for this annual collection proved impossible. As such, I’ve selected two (it could have been more!) co-authored by Dave in 2021. In the first article, Dave – and his co-authors Norm Smallwood and Allan Todd suggest that if HR wants to reinvent itself it has to pivot from a focus on benchmarking and best practice to a focus on guidance (see FIG 21),and provide a six-step process on how to do so.
FIG 21: HR Reinvention: From Benchmarking to Best Practice to Guidance (Source: Dave Ulrich)
MIKE ULRICH, PATRICK WRIGHT, ERIN BURNS AND DAVE ULRICH – What is Required to Be More Effective in HR?
Research on the ingredients required for more effective HR by the Michigan Ross School of Business Executive Education and The RBL Group has helped the authors define how to navigate HR’s impact on the results that matter most to companies. The article, co-authored by Dave Ulrich, Mike Ulrich, Patrick Wright and Erin Burns, addresses insights on three questions: i) What competencies do HR professionals need to deliver results? ii) What should be the characteristics of an effective HR department, and what individual HR competencies shape HR department effectiveness? and, iii) What business or organization capabilities should HR help create to deliver business results, and what individual HR competencies help embed business capabilities? The results are illuminating and include (see FIG 22), a blueprint for HR moving forward.
FIG 22: Human Capability: A Blueprint for HR going forward (Source: Mike Ulrich, Patrick Wright, Erin Burns and Dave Ulrich
ASMUS KOMM, FLORIAN POLLNER, BILL SCHANINGER, AND SURBHI SIKKA – The new possible: How HR can help build the organization of the future
We often hear about an increasing need for talent and business agility. But what does a more dynamic work model really look like? Research from McKinsey suggests future-ready companies share three characteristics: they know what they are and what they stand for; they operate with a fixation on speed and simplicity; and they grow by scaling up their ability to learn and innovate. To propel this transformation, HR must facilitate positive change in these three areas, by focusing on nine sub-imperatives (see FIG 23).
The pandemic underscores the urgency for a more dynamic talent and work model. Human-resources leaders can help by focusing on identity, agility, and scalability.
FIG 23: Nine imperatives can help HR leaders ready their organizations for the future (Source: McKinsey & Company)
VI) WORKFORCE PLANNING, SKILLS AND INTERNAL MOBILITY
JONATHAN FERRAR – How to Build a Workforce Planning Strategy that Delivers Business Value | IAN BAILIE & CAROLINE STYR – A New Playbook for Workforce Planning (Extract)
Each year we work with the companies that are part of the Insight222 People Analytics Program® to deliver co-developed diagnostic tools for some of the most complex topics in People Analytics. In 2021, this saw the development of ‘Building the Future Organisation: A New Playbook for Workforce Planning (download an extract of the report here). Jonathan’s article focuses on key findings of the research on significant factors that leading companies perform when they ‘do workforce planning well’ (including measuring the value of workforce planning and its link to business outcomes). Jonathan also presents and describes a new framework we have developed at Insight222 as a result of the research: the Insight222 Nine Dimensions for Workforce Planning™.
FIG 24: How to segment and prioritise workforce planning activities (Source: Insight222)
AARON DE SMET, ANGELIKA REICH AND BILL SCHANINGER – Getting skills transformations right: The nine-ingredient recipe for success
As companies continue to grapple with the need for new skills to support wholesale changes in business strategy and ways of working, research from McKinsey highlights nine ingredients (see FIG 25), which together provide a recipe for a successful skills transformation. As well as providing context on each ingredient, the article provides a persuasive argument for using each of the nine ingredients across three iterative phases of a skills transformation: “At organizations that have implemented all nine practices, respondents report a nearly 100 percent chance of having a successful skills transformation—which is 2.5 times higher than the success rate for organizations that have failed to implement at least one of the practices”.
FIG 25: Nine key practices of a skills transformation (Source: McKinsey)
BRIAN FISHER, KATE BRAVERY, JEAN MARTIN, JEN SAUNDERS, KABIR NATH, MARY ANN SARDONE, ADRIENNE CERNOGOI & ELANA ABERNATHY – Gaining a skills edge through agile talent practices Summary | Full Report
A paper from Mercer offering guidance on how organisations can build and accelerate their journey to a skills-led talent model. The writers believe that: “Success will depend on companies showing that skills are the dominant language of the organization (not jobs or functions) and creating a culture that supports learning.” Guidance is provided on i) the importance of skills, ii) transitioning from jobs to skills, and iii) the skills-based talent continuum (see FIG 26).
FIG 26: Skills-based Talent Continuum (Source: Mercer)
SUSAN CANTRELL – Beyond the Job
Perhaps one of the most significant changes we will see as the ‘future of work’ continues to unfurl is that in an effort to become more agile and accommodate changing worker expectations, organisations will increasingly move away from the traditional concept of the job. As Deloitte’s Susan Cantrell explains in her fascinating contribution to SHRM’s People + Strategy journal, this will entail a fundamental rethink by companies of the operating model for talent and work. Susan looks at ways of organising work without jobs, the multitude of options beyond the job together with new practices to fractionalise (FIG 27) or broaden work.
FIG 27: New practices for fractionalising work (Source: Susan Cantrell)
ELIZABETH J. ALTMAN, DAVID KIRON, JEFF SCHWARTZ, AND ROBIN JONES – The Future of Work Is Through Workforce Ecosystems
Effectively managing a workforce comprising internal and external players (i.e. not only employees, but also contractors, gig workers, professional service providers, application developers, crowdsourced contributors, and others) in a way that is both aligned with an organisation’s strategic goals and consistent with its values is now a critical business necessity. As the authors suggest by highlighting four shifts, deploying workforce ecosystems as a structure for managing the new world workforce might be the best way forward. A good article highlighting the additional complexities involved in modern workforce planning as well as the need to shift away from legacy linear career paths.
Instead of (only) asking, “What workforce do I need for my strategy?” workforce ecosystems enable leaders to ask, “What strategy is possible with my workforce?”
ALICIA ROACH AND DAVID GREEN – How Can Workforce Planning Help Organisations Access the Skills they need to Thrive in the Digital Age?
According to our research at Insight222, nearly all companies (90%) express a desire to build a skills-based workforce planning process. However, only a quarter of companies (26%) are actively doing so. This shift in approach to workforce planning provided a nice backdrop to my discussion with Alicia Roach, Co-Founder and Director at eQ8 and one of my go-to experts on workforce planning to learn more about the future of the field, how workforce planning can provide the link between people and purpose (see FIG 28) and how workforce planning can be used to help organisations access the skills they need to thrive in the digital age.
FIG 28: Connect your people to your purpose through Strategic Workforce Planning (Source: Alicia Roach, eQ8)
GUY DICKINSON – Skills as a System
“What if we had a better way to talk with leaders about skills, remove the bias inherent in discussions, let them take decisions about skills right away, and plan for change?” That’s the challenge Guy Dickinson, Global Head of Digital Capability at Novartis, tackles in his timely and thought-provoking essay. Guy walks through a model that combines recent thinking on how to organise skills and applies a strategy model prevalent in technology firms designed to help us think about skills as a system.
FIG 29: Source: Guy Dickinson
VII) LEADERSHIP AND CULTURE
AMY EDMONDSON & MARK MORTENSEN – What Psychological Safety Looks Like in a Hybrid Workplace | AMY EDMONDSON AND PER HUGANDER – Psychological Safety Is Not a Hygiene Factor
What changes will be required when managing teams in a hybrid environment? As Amy Edmondson, who was ranked #1 on the prestigious Thinkers50 list in 2021, and Mark Mortensen outline, when it comes to psychological safety, managers have traditionally focused on enabling candour and dissent with respect to work content. The problem is, as the boundary between work and life becomes increasingly blurry, managers must make staffing, scheduling, and coordination decisions that take into account employees’ personal circumstances — a categorically different domain. Obviously, simply saying “just trust me” won’t work. Instead, Amy and Mark outline a series of five steps to create a culture of psychological safety that extends beyond the work content to include broader aspects of employees’ experiences. In the second article for Psychology Today, Amy teams up with Per Hugander to outline ‘Three levels of Psychological Safety’ (see FIG 30). As the article explains, a level of 2 or below represents a toxic environment, a company that falls between 3 and 6 appears reasonably healthy, but is likely to be: “less engaged, open, and learning-oriented than first meets the eye.” Finally, an organisation that sits on the scale at a 7 and above, represents a significant culture achievement.
Psychological safety takes time to build, but moments to destroy
FIG 30: Three levels of psychological safety (Source: Per Hugander)
ADAM GRANT – Building a culture of learning at work | There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing
Two articles too from Adam Grant, whose book Think Again hit bookstores in 2021. First, taking a cue from work he undertook with the Gates Foundation, Adam weaves a compelling story on how to build a learning culture. As he reveals, this requires combining elements such as psychological safety (“the foundation of a learning culture is psychological safety — being able to take risks without fear of reprisal”), open feedback, vulnerability from leaders, accountability on processes as well as outcomes and experimentation. The second article and accompanying Ted Talk, examines a psychic malaise that has become all too common after two years of the pandemic. Adam breaks down the key indicators of languishing and presents three ways to escape that ‘meh’ feeling and start finding your flow
JOHN HAGEL III – Good Leadership Is About Asking Good Questions
Being able to ask really good questions is an often-overlooked skill. But it is critical for leaders and for good people analytics too. John Hagel’s article outlines how by asking questions, leaders can help to solve thorny problems, connect with others and earn their trust. Questions like, “What new opportunities have emerged that we don’t want to miss? How might we use new technologies to change our business model?” should be asked of employees, stakeholders and even customers.
Leaders who ask powerful questions have the greatest success in both seizing new opportunities and addressing unexpected challenges — and they build cultures that will carry these benefits into the future
TOMAS CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC AND KATERINA BERG – Fostering a Culture of Belonging in the Hybrid Workplace | TOMAS CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC – The Essential Components of Digital Transformation
Like Dave Ulrich, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is as brilliant a writer as he is prolific, so I’ve included two articles from him in 2021. First up, Tomas teams up with Katerina Berg, Chief People Officer at Spotify, to highlight three challenges leaders must address to foster a greater sense of belonging amongst employees: i) balancing the tension between a strong culture and effective diversity, inclusion and belonging practices, ii) retaining the social element of work, even when people continue to work remotely, and; iii) having the courage to let the culture evolve. In the second article, Tomas addresses five essential components of a digital transformation: people, data, insights, action and results (see FIG 31) in his article for HBR. As he outlines: “The fundamental meaning of transformation is not about replacing old technologies with new ones, or capturing high volumes of data, or hiring an army of data scientists, or trying to copy some of the things Google or Amazon do. In fact, the essence of digital transformation is to become a data-driven organization, ensuring that key decisions, actions, and processes are strongly influenced by data-driven insights, rather than by human intuition.”
FIG 31: The 5 Essential Components of a Digital Transformation (Source: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, HBR)
DONALD SULL AND CHARLES SULL – 10 Things Your Corporate Culture Needs to Get Right
Knowing what elements of culture matter most to employees can help leaders foster engagement as they transition to a new reality that will include more remote and hybrid work. As such this illuminating analysis of 1.4m employee reviews on Glassdoor of companies in the Culture500 (a sample of large US based firms), which identifies the ten elements that matter most to employees provides a solid benchmark. The number one predictor is that employees are treated with consideration, courtesy, and dignity, and their perspectives are taken seriously. This factor is 17.9x more powerful a predictor of culture score than any other factor (see FIG 32). The article then dives into each of the ten factors grouping them into four categories: respect, leadership, compensation and job security/reorganisations (“Virtually no one has any good things to say about reorganizations”).
FIG 32: Corporate culture elements most important to employees (Source: Culture X)
PETER GRAY, ROB CROSS AND MICHAEL ARENA – Use Networks to Drive Culture Change
Combining survey data with network analysis can help leaders identify and subsequently address obstacles to cultural change in their team or company. Indeed, as Peter Gray, Rob Cross and Michael Arena explain in their article for MIT Sloan Management Review, mapping patterns of collaboration can provide an X-ray view of the inner workings of an organisation. The article identifies five ways to drive culture change through informal networks: i) unearthing the subcultures, ii) finding your real cultural leaders (see FIG 33), iii) shining a light on hidden tensions, iv) evoking positive emotions, and v) giving adoption the time it needs.
FIG 33: Formal versus informal influence (Source: Gray, Cross and Arena, MIT Sloan Management Review)
VIII) DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION
STACIA GARR AND PRIYANKA MEHROTRA – Creating a DEIB Culture: The Skills Every Employee Needs
A sumptuous collaboration between RedThread Research and Degreed, which analyses what a skills-based approach to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and belonging (DEIB) looks like and how it can drive business impact. The 58 pages in the report provide a host of insights including the following two: i) Top DEIB organisations are 81% more likely to have high customer satisfaction and 45% more likely to retain their employees, and ii) at top DEIB organisations different employee populations focus on specific skills sets (see FIG 34).
FIG 34: Skills for a DEIB Culture—By Employee Level (Source: RedThread Research)
ELLYN SHOOK – How to Set — and Meet — Your Company’s Diversity Goals
A powerful piece by Ellyn Shook, on the approach Accenture has taken to hold itself publicly accountable to its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) priorities. The article is framed around five key actions: i) Analyse locally so your goals reflect the communities where your people work and live; ii) Focus on skills, not education; iii) Work the education-location equation and identify the proportion of residents with and without bachelor’s degrees, by race/ethnicity, in your largest office locations; iv) Pressure test your goals to ensure rigour and reasonability; v) Build your own pipeline.
Becoming a more inclusive and diverse organization is not just the right thing to do — it’s essential to innovation and business success
INGA CARBONI, ANDREW PARKER AND NAN S. LANGOWITZ – Mapping Exclusion in the Organization
This article is a powerful example of how organisational network analysis can reveal ways to bolster inclusivity. Based on their analysis of the organisational networks of dozens of companies, surveys of thousands of employees, and interviews with senior executives, Inga Carboni, Andrew Parker and Nan Langowitz have identified specific ways leaders can improve inclusivity at their companies. The article examines the case of Valitron (a pseudonym), a Silicon Valley based global computer hardware manufacturer, to illustrate how knowledge of organisational networks affects the success of efforts to build a more gender-inclusive company in two critical ways: by providing a better measure of inclusion, and by fostering actionable insights into precisely where and how to target DEI efforts.
FIG 35: Who is best connected? (Source: Carboni, Parker and Langowitz, MIT Sloan Management Review)
BEVERLY TARULLI – What HR Practitioners Need to Know About Gender Pay Equity
In her article, which featured in a special edition of Workforce Solutions Review on how to accelerate diversity, equity and inclusion through data and technology, Beverly Tarulli debunks the perception that gender gap has been closing in the last decades and explains how such data could be misleading. She lays out specific steps HR leaders should take to conduct competent pay equity audits and respond to their findings adequately and in a timely manner. Beverly also focuses on the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on women in the workplace and how it continues to create challenges in achieving the equity most organisations aspire to. To dig into the other articles, including contributions from Sheri Feinzig, Lexy Martin and Keith Sonderling, I recommend starting with the editor’s overview by Anna Tavis
IX) EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE
KRISTIN STOLLER – Employees Are More Vital To A Company’s Success Than Shareholders, New Survey Finds | CYDNEY ROACH – Employees now considered the most important group to companies long-term success. What are the boardroom implications?
There’s a neat thread from Heather McGowan’s piece (the first entry in this annual compendium) on the shift to the human capital era with this pair of articles, which provide insights from 2021 data from the Edelman Trust Barometer. This sees a shift in power with employees now regarded as the most important stakeholders to a company’s long-term success (see FIG 36). The Edelman research tallies nicely with a recent Gallup survey cited in Kristin Stoller’s article, which found that companies with engaged employees can see profitability increase by 21%.
FIG 36: Employees are now seen as the most important stakeholders to long-term success (Source: Edelman, May 2021)
JONATHAN EMMETT, ASMUS KOMM, STEFAN MORITZ AND FRIEDERIKE SCHULTZ – This time it’s personal: Shaping the ‘new possible’ through employee experience
Research from McKinsey finds that people who report having a positive employee experience have 16 times the engagement level of employees with a negative experience, and that they are eight times more likely to want to stay at a company. Moreover, the research also finds that different experiences in the three core areas of EX—social, work, and organisation—explain most of the variation in how positively or negatively employees view their journey with their company. The article then illustrates and describes a three-step systematic approach to employee experience based on design thinking principles: i) Establish a baseline and build on it, ii) Identify and transform employee journeys using an approach encompassing personas and moments that matter (see FIG 37), and iii) Equip the full organisation for an EX transformation “implementing systems that let the organization scale EX—through better data, measurement, systems, and capabilities”.
FIG 37: Employee experience can be shaped in each part of the employee journey
CAROLINE STYR, KERRY GHIZE AND CHRISTOPHE MARTEL – How to Demonstrate the Business Value of Employee Experience (Article) | Demonstrating the Business Value of EX (Report)
A key finding from our 2021 research at Insight222, which was undertaken in partnership with our friends at TI People, is that 41% of the business impact of employee experience is delivered when experiences for customer facing teams are improved. The article provides a neat summary of the report, highlighting some of the differences between EX and engagement and three key findings from the research demonstrating that organisations: i) Have shown more interest in EX at the C-Suite level since the start of the global pandemic, ii) Have difficulty proving the business impact of EX, and; iii) Aren’t fully embracing internal “experience centricity” – and presents The Employee Experience Value Chain (see FIG 38) – to support forward-thinking organisations to capitalise on experience centricity.
FIG 38: The Employee Experience Value Chain (Source: Demonstrating the Business Value of EX, Insight222 and TI People, 2021)
KATHI ENDERES – The Definitive Guide to Employee Experience: What Really Matters
Kathi Enderes provides a summary of research she’s conducted on employee experience together with Josh Bersin. The article presents a framework for employee experience: ‘The irresistible Organization,’ where the “The goal of employee experience is to help people DO their best and BE their best.” Kathi also presents a maturity model for EX, busts six myths about the topic and provides a powerful illustration of the business outcomes the right EX strategies can lead to (see FIG 39).
FIG 39: The business, people and innovation outcomes of EX (Source: Kathi Enderes)
LAURA STEVENS – Continuous Listening: Are We There Yet?
While employee listening was already on the rise in HR, the onset of the global pandemic has seen many companies step up their efforts to listen, analyse and act on employee feedback – using both active and passive data. That makes this article from Laura Stevens especially timely. In it, Laura examines what four leading organisations are doing in the space, examines how continuous listening will evolve and provides guidance on the core principles that should underpin your continuous listening program (see FIG 40). Features extensive insights from: Patrick Coolen, Tertia Wiedenhof, Martijn Wiertz, Valérie Dubois and Stefan Hierl.
FIG 40: Four principles that should frame Continuous Listening programs (Source: Laura Stevens)
DION HINCHCLIFFE – How to Think About and Prepare for Hybrid Work
With the exception of a few notable outliers, the hybrid model is now generally accepted by the majority of organisations as the future of work. The challenge will be to make this shift as seamless as possible for both physical and remote employees. As such, Dion Hinchcliffe’s compelling and comprehensive essay, which lays out a sensible path forward – one that prioritises wellbeing, promotes resilience and is centred on workers – is extremely timely. Dion tackles three leading priorities of a hybrid work model: i) preserving the productivity dividend of remote work, ii) sustain the long-term engagement of remote workers and connect them to the mothership, and iii) dealing with the disruptions yet to come.
FIG 41: Source: Dion Hinchcliffe
X) ETHICS, TRUST AND TECHNOLOGY
DOROTHY LEIDNER, OLGERTA TONA, BARBARA H. WIXOM AND IDA ASADI SOMEH – Putting Dignity at the Core of Employee Data Use
In Excellence in People Analytics, Jonathan Ferrar and I extol how strong governance sets the function up for success. A crucial component of governance is the establishment of an ethics charter that governs the collection and use of people data. The headline finding of a recent study by the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR), was: “When companies manage employee data responsibly, they’re better able to grow trust while gaining insights.” This article provides a summary of the study, with guidance relating to: i) Understanding the dimensions of employee data (the ‘5-W data’ regarding who, what, where, when and why), ii) how employee data is used (knowing and showing employees), iii) focusing on dignity when evaluation employee data use (see FIG 42), and iv) making dignity core to employee data use. A brilliant and important read.
When companies manage employee data responsibly, they’re better able to grow trust while gaining insights
FIG 42: Data-related activities in pursuit of employee dignity (Source: MIT Sloan Management Review)
ANSHUL SHEOPURI – Foundations of trustworthy AI: Trusted AI for the workforce
How do you implement putting dignity and trust at the core of using people data in an organisation? An example of a company that adheres to the guidance offered in the previous piece by Leidner et al is IBM. In his article, Anshul Sheopuri, who has led much of IBM’s work on people analytics and building of AI technology for HR in recent years, outlines how these solutions have been: “Designed to foster trustworthiness and deliver an end-to-end employee experience across the entire employee lifecycle.” Anshul describes how skills act as: “the silver thread across the employee journey, empowering IBMers to make fact-based decisions,” and provides examples covering hiring and compensation. For more on this topic, please listen to Anshul on the Digital HR Leaders Podcast: How to Deploy Ethical AI and Build Data Literacy in HR.
MICAH LUECK – Just because you can doesn’t mean you should
A thoughtful article by Micah Lueck, Head of People Analytics at Qualcomm, on applying predictive attrition models ethically, fairly and accurately. As he explains, in addition to focusing people analytics work on solving the most important business questions in your company, when it comes to using predictive models there is one other important consideration at the outset, namely: How do you responsibly use a model that can tell you what’s expected to happen? Micah then walks through the actions you could do, and the steps to minimise unintended consequences (e.g. the data could be used improperly or without proper context), minimise risks to the integrity of the model (e.g. changing behaviours) and data sets that should be included in a predictive attrition model.
The challenge (with people analytics) is no longer having a model, but knowing how to use it and creating the right strategy that benefits both employees and the company
JOHN SUMSER AND HEATHER BUSSING – Pinning Jello® to a Wall: Regulating AI
According to an absorbing piece by John Sumser and Heather Bussing: “The biggest actual risks (of AI) come from overestimating the capability of the technology and the idea that technology gives us more accurate and less biased information.” When you boil this down to HR, they opine that: “In HR and HRTech, the biggest risk is not arguing with the recommendations supplied by the machine.” The article then provides a helpful summary of some of the key concerns for AI in HR Technology, the risks of using such systems (including those associated with privacy, bias and security) and some of the current (and future) laws governing AI. Shrewd guidance is offered relating to the use of crowdsourcing to validate algorithms and having at least one external representative on an ethics committee or council.
The real problem in the regulation of AI is that technology moves faster than legal systems.
JOSH BERSIN – Ten New Truths About The HR Technology Market
Josh continues to be the most prominent analyst in our field, and in this article he distils his research of the prior year to ‘Ten New Truths’. These include: i) Employee Experience takes over (every HR Tech vendor “wants to build an ‘experience layer’ that sits in front of employees”), ii) Skills taxonomies and intelligence platforms are the ‘next big thing’ (“The problem for buyers is that one ‘integrated skills platform’ does not yet exist”), which means that the ‘new skills engine’ is a highly prized goal (see FIG 43), iii) Learning in the flow of work has arrived (“Employees are consuming vast amounts of learning right now, all for good reason. They want to stay healthy, learn their new jobs, and understand how to manage their complicated lives”), iv) Talent Marketplace has become a category (“Of all the new offerings I’ve studied over the years, this is the only HR Tech space that seems to be universally successful”), and; v) Employee listening explodes with growth (“These are mission-critical systems, and if you don’t have something like this you can’t really “shorten the distance between signal and action”).
FIG 43: Source: Josh Bersin
JASON NARLOCK AND ALLAN H. CHURCH – Where does Artificial Intelligence play in the HR game?
Two absorbing and important resources that examine the readiness (or not) for using artificial intelligence in HR. In the first article, Jason Narlock (formerly at PepsiCo and now leading people insights and analytics at Mondelēz) and Allan H. Church of PepsiCo highlight: “There’s AI that should work in HR, but it suffers from underinvestment and a limited understanding of what it takes to be successful. And then there’s AI that may never work in HR that’s simply overhyped” (see FIG 44). They then provide examples of where AI works today but is under-utilised (e.g. reporting and dashboarding), where AI should work but is underinvested (e.g. machine learning and natural language processing), and where AI may never work and is over-hyped (e.g. personalised integrated coaching and feedback).
FIG 44: Source: Jason Narlock and Allan H. Church
FROM MY DESK
Finally, a selection of resources from 2021 from me:
How Can Passive ONA Highlight the Impact of Relationships on Diversity and Inclusion? (co-authored with Jonathan Ferrar)
Jonathan and I examine how ONA data can be used to understand how structural homophily within professional networks may be impacting career progression – highlighting a powerful example detailed in a study from Weill Cornell Medicine and The Science of Diversity & Inclusion Initiative (SODI) by Maria V. Suurna and Andreas Leibbrandt. The study, which draws on passive ONA analysis using TrustSphere, examines the lasting impact of gender homophily in surgical faculty networks.
In this excerpt from Excellence in People Analytics, I analyse the history of people analytics and explain why we believe the pandemic has tipped the field into a fourth age – The Age of Value.
In this edited extract from the Workforce Experiences chapter of Excellence in People Analytics, I examine the responsibilities of people analytics to four different audiences in the organisation (see FIG 45).
FIG 45: The Four Responsibilities for People Analytics in the Consumerisation of HR. Reproduced from Excellence in People Analytics, Jonathan Ferrar & David Green (Kogan Page, 2021)
In addition, we published 44 episodes of the Digital HR Leaders Podcast in 2021!
Thanks to all the authors and contributors featured here and also across the monthly collections from 2021 – see January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December – your passion, knowledge and expertise continues to inspire. Thanks also to my colleagues at Insight222, the guests on the Digital HR Leaders Podcast in 2021 and the great many of you that share and engage with the content I share. It’s much appreciated. I wish you all well for a happy, healthy and successful 2022.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David is a globally respected author, speaker, conference chair, and executive consultant on people analytics, data-driven HR and the future of work. As Managing Partner and Executive Director at Insight222, he has overall responsibility for the delivery of the Insight222 People Analytics Program, which supports the advancement of people analytics in over 70 global organisations. Prior to co-founding Insight222 and taking up a board advisor role at TrustSphere, David accumulated over 20 years experience in the human resources and people analytics fields, including as Global Director of People Analytics Solutions at IBM. As such, David has extensive experience in helping organisations increase value, impact and focus from the wise and ethical use of people analytics. David also hosts the Digital HR Leaders Podcast and is an instructor for Insight222’s myHRfuture Academy. His book, co-authored with Jonathan Ferrar, Excellence in People Analytics: How to use Workforce Data to Create Business Value was published in the summer of 2021.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David is a globally respected writer, speaker, conference chair, and executive consultant on people analytics, data-driven HR and the future of work. As an Executive Director at Insight222, he helps global organisations create more cultural and economic value through the wise and ethical use of people data and analytics. Prior to joining Insight222 and taking up a board advisor role at TrustSphere, David was the Global Director of People Analytics Solutions at IBM Watson Talent. As such, David has extensive experience in helping organisations embark upon and accelerate their people analytics journeys. David also hosts the Digital HR Leaders Podcast on myHRfuture.