2022 continued the trend of what is proving to be a tumultuous decade. The terrible war in Ukraine has precipitated soaring energy bills, a cost of living crisis, and the likelihood of a global recession in 2023. The year also saw the arrival and departure of Liz Truss as UK Prime Minister (no sniggering at the back!), the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and at the end of the year, Leo Messi emulating Diego Maradona by leading Argentina to the World Cup.
In 2022, HR continued to rise to the occasion in many of the companies we work with at Insight222 – just as the function has throughout the troubling twenties. The articles I’ve selected in my year-end compendium collectively point to the value that HR can provide to key business stakeholders: leaders, managers, employees, investors and customers as well as to society. I’ve been publishing a collection of the ‘best’ articles of the preceding 12 months for nine years – see the collections for 2014, 2015, 2016 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 and my choices for the 60 best articles of 2022 follow below.
I have assembled the articles into two parts (LinkedIn seems to have gremlins when I tried to put all 60 resources in one article). Part 1, which follows below has the first five sections: i) the future of work, ii) workplace strategy and hybrid work, iii) the ‘Great Resignation’, iv) people analytics, and v) employee experience, listening and wellbeing. Part 2 has the second group of five topics: vi) workforce planning, skills and talent marketplace, vii) leadership and culture, viii) diversity, equity and inclusion ix) the evolution of HR, and; x) hr and people analytics technology.
In the year ahead, as I wrote in my 12 HR Trends for 2023, HR has a unique opportunity to lead the way to to a more productive, inclusive, healthier, and humane future of work. 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, and please tune in to the Digital HR Leaders podcast.
FUTURE OF WORK
LYNDA GRATTON – The Four-Step Process for Redesigning Work
As Lynda Gratton writes in an illuminating piece for MIT Sloan Management Review, fear of failure is constraining many leaders and organisations despite the leaps forward many made in workplace skills, assumptions and habits when forced to by the pandemic: “Rather than being bold and adopting an experimental mindset, they are falling back to familiar ways of operating and becoming less empathic to what others want. When we fear failure, we retreat to the known.” Fortunately, there are some intrepid leaders looking to structurally overhaul how their organisations work. Lynda explains – and provides examples from the likes of Arup, CPP, Unilever and Sage – how these leaders have done so by moving through four crucial steps: i) understanding people, networks, and jobs; ii) reimagining how work gets done; iii) modelling and testing redesign ideas against core principles; and iv) ensuring the overhaul sticks by taking action widely (see FIG 1). For more on the U-Work initiative implemented by Unilever highlighted in Lynda’s article, have a listen to Chief Talent and Reward Officer Placid Jover on the Digital HR Leaders podcast: How Unilever is Creating New Ways of Working for its Employees.
RAVIN JESUTHASAN AND JOHN BOUDREAU – Can’t Fill Jobs? Deconstruct Them
In their article, originally published in MIT Sloan Management Review, Ravin Jesuthasan, CFA, FRSA and John Boudreau examine the opportunity to use today’s fight for talent as a catalyst to rethink and reorganise work. In a taster from their highly recommended book, Work Without Jobs, Ravin and John examine how job deconstruction can help bend the demand side of the work equation through the creation of an agile, flexible, inclusive and resilient new work operating system. To learn more, tune in to the episode of the Digital HR Leaders podcast when Ravin and John joined me to discuss: Does the Future of Work Mean Work Without Jobs?
Breaking roles down into tasks reframes the talent problem from one of supply to one of demand
JAIME TEEVAN, NANCY BAYM, JENNA BUTLER, BRENT HECHT, SONIA JAFFE, KATE NOWAK, ABIGAIL SELLEN AND LONGQI YANG – Microsoft New Future of Work Report 2022 Summary | Full report
The ‘Great Remote Work Experiment’ has arguably seen work change faster that it has in a generation and with the transition from remote to hybrid, more change, more experimentation, and more uncertainty lies ahead. Microsoft’s New Future of Work Report assembles a plethora of research related to hybrid work both before and prior to the pandemic. It is designed to facilitate knowledge sharing across the research community and is an invaluable resource for people analytics practitioners, academics and other researchers studying work, productivity and culture as it examines changes in work on four different scales: individual, team, organisation and society.
SUE CANTRELL, TOM DAVENPORT, STEVE HATFIELD, AND BRAD KREIT – Strengthening the bonds of human and machine collaboration
While collaborating with smart machines is increasingly becoming commonplace for workers around the globe, these machines have yet to be optimised for people, and we still haven’t figured out yet how to maximise the value of these collaborations. That’s according to Susan Cantrell, Tom Davenport, Steve Hatfield, and Brad Kreit, in their thought-provoking article for Deloitte. They outline how building successful human-machine collaborations will challenge most companies to break down siloes between HR and IT; and identify new strategies to improve human-machine teams. The article breaks down i) what “human and machine collaboration” actually means (see FIG 3), ii) how human-machine collaboration challenges the workforce experience (e.g. how AI increases the difficulty and complexity of work for humans, how it can decrease autonomy and engagement, and how it can exasperate loneliness), and iii) guidance to encourage the success of human-machine collaboration (e.g. appointing a leader to study and optimise human-machine collaboration, redefining workforce practices, and preparing for the evolving workforce).
DEBORAH LOVICH, FRANK BREITLING, JONATHAN FELDMAN, BHARAT KHANDELWAL, CHRIS MATTEY, PRATEEK ROONGTA, NICK SOUTH AND KRISTI WOOLSEY – Work Will Never Be the Same—Savvy Business Leaders Are Adapting to Change That’s Already Here | DEBORAH LOVICH, NICK SOUTH, HENNING SCHIERHOLZ, SEBASTIAN ULLRICH, ÁDÁM KOTSIS, STEFAN TRIFONOV, AND NATASA BISCAN – The Employer’s Report Card on the Future of Work
Companies that are embracing the changes wrought by the pandemic will likely have a definitive customer, innovation, employee and productivity advantage in the coming years. That’s according to this study by BCG, which presents an integrated approach designed to help firms quickly and systemically create advantage. The approach is based on four critical areas: how we work, how we lead, how we organise, and what we need (see FIG 4, which highlights the need for significant involvement from HR functions and their people analytics teams). The article was published in February, and BCG revisited the 12 dimensions later in the year to check progress in The Employer’s Report Card on the Future of Work. Credit to the BCG team of Debbie Lovich, Frank Breitling, Jonathan Feldman, Bharat Khandelwal, Chris Mattey, Prateek Roongta, Nick South, Kristi Woolsey, Dr. Henning Schierholz, Dr. Sebastian Ullrich, Adam Kotsis, Dr. Stefan Trifonov, and Natasa Biscan, EMBA,
AIDAN MANKTELOW, GUILLAUME HINGEL, STEFFICA WARWICK, ELSELOT HASSELAAR, ATTILIO DI BATTISTA, SAADIA ZAHIDI, NICOLE LUK, PADMA RAMANATHAN, KATE BRAVERY AND RAVIN JESUTHASAN – The Good Work Framework: A new business agenda for the future of work
A collaboration between the World Economic Forum and Mercer, which seeks to develop a new vision for the future of work: The Good Work Framework, defined in the report as: “A healthy, equitable, resilient and human-centric future of work, respecting fundamental rights, across in-person, hybrid and virtual work, for all workers”. The Framework sets out five objectives, associated goals and core metrics (see FIG 5): i) promote fair pay and social justice; ii) provide flexibility and protection; iii) deliver on health and well-being; iv) drive diversity, equity and inclusion; and v) foster employability and learning culture. The Framework sets out a powerful template that should benefit businesses, employees, customers, communities and shareholders – and there is much to admire in its 30 pages. Kudos to the WEF and Mercer teams: Aidan Manktelow, Guillaume Hingel, Steffica Warwick, Elselot Hasselaar, Attilio Di Battista, Saadia Zahidi, Nicole Luk, Padma Ramanathan, Kate Bravery and Ravin Jesuthasan, CFA, FRSA.
Seizing this opportunity will determine whether the post-pandemic recovery leads to positive outcomes for both business and for society at large and ensure a healthy, resilient and equitable future of work
BEN LAKER – What Does the Four-Day Workweek Mean for the Future of Work? | HENLEY BUSINESS SCHOOL – The four-day week: The pandemic and the evolution of flexible working
According to a study by Henley Business School, two-thirds of companies judge that offering a four-day week to employees will be essential for future business success. The study also finds that a four-day workweek increases employee well-being, reduces pollution, improves retention, attracts new talent, and saves companies money. Benjamin Laker, in his column for MIT Sloan Management Review, highlights examples of countries and businesses experimenting with four day weeks, including how New Zealand based Atom Bank saw a 500% uplift in job applications after announcing a shift to a four day week.
WORKPLACE STRATEGY | HYBRID WORK
NICHOLAS BLOOM, RUOBING HAN AND JAMES LIANG – How Hybrid Working From Home Works Out
Nick Bloom, Professor of Economics at Stanford University, has been researching working from home for over 20 years and publishes monthly updates on his research here. One of the papers he published in 2022, written together with Ruobing Han and James Liang, evaluates a randomised control trial on 1612 engineers, marketing and finance employees of a large technology firm that allowed odd birthday employees to work from home (WFH) on Wednesday and Friday and kept even birthday employees full time in the office. There are four key results: “First, WFH reduced attrition rates by 35% and improved self-reported work satisfaction scores, highlighting how employees place a considerable value on this amenity. Second, WFH reduced hours worked on home days but increased it on other work days and the weekend, highlighting how home-working alters the structure of the working week. Third, WFH employees increased individual messaging and group video call communication, even when in the office, reflecting the impact of remote work on working patterns. Finally, while there was no significant impact of WFH on performance ratings or promotions, lines of code written increased by 8%, and employees’ self-assessed productivity was up 1.8%, suggesting a small positive impact. Given these benefits for retention, job satisfaction, and productivity, after the experiment ended the firm extended hybrid WFH to the entire company.”
MICROSOFT WORK TRENDS INDEX – Hybrid Work Is Just Work. Are We Doing It Wrong?
Microsoft continues to publish insightful data on the new era of hybrid work with their latest Work Trends Index identifying three urgent pivots to help employees and organisations thrive: i) End productivity paranoia (see FIG 8), ii) Embrace the fact that people come in (to the office) for each other, and iii) Re-recruit your employees. Data, insights, visualisations, and guidance are provided for each pivot along with a powerful quote from Satya Nadella: “Thriving employees are what will give organizations a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic economic environment.” Readers that enjoy this study should also check out Microsoft’s other 2022 output including: i) Making Hybrid Work Work, and ii) The Rise of the Triple Peak Day.
MICHAEL ARENA, GLENN CARROLL, CHARLES O’REILLY, JOHN GOLDEN AND SCOTT HINES – The Adaptive Hybrid: Innovation with Virtual Work
Many of the initial studies on the shift to virtual working since the onset of the pandemic highlight positive increases in productivity and wellbeing, as well as access to more diverse labour pools and lower costs. But can innovation thrive in a virtual context when research finds that proximity and serendipitous encounters are critical to the flow of new ideas? In their excellent paper, Michael Arena, Ph.D., Glenn Carroll, Charles O’Reilly, John Golden, Ph.D. and Scott Hines, PhD present research from companies including Uber, Workday, Amazon and Microsoft. They also draw on social network theory to show how each of the three stages of innovation (idea generation, idea incubation, and scaling) can be undermined by virtual work. They then present an alternative organisational design that companies can adopt to overcome these challenges – the Adaptive Hybrid Model. This approach outlines how the network connections required for each of the three stages require different types of social capital and identifies how managers can blend virtual and face-to-face work to avoid the loss of connections and social capital that virtual work brings. If you enjoy this, I recommend delving into four other articles that Michael Arena published in 2022: i) The Neighborhood Effect: Implications of Hybrid Work, ii) Hybrid Work: Getting Leaders to Stay Connected with Teams, iii) Overcoming the Neighborhood Effect: Enhancing the Breadth and Depth of Hybrid Work, and iv) The Fragility of Informal Interactions with Hybrid Work.
TAYLOR LAURICELLA, JOHN PARSONS, BILL SCHANINGER AND BROOKE WEDDLE – Network effects: How to rebuild social capital and improve corporate performance
In many respects, social capital is the glue that holds organisations together, which makes the findings of 2022 research by Taylor Lauricella, John Parsons, Bill Schaninger and Brooke Weddle for McKinsey concerning. The study found that since the onset of the pandemic and the shift to remote work, the majority of people’s professional networks have shrunk. To reverse this trend, leaders will need to manage workplace interactions more intentionally. The article provides recommendations to assess and then build (or rebuild) social capital along three dimensions: i) motivation (redefine roles and responsibilities e.g. by incentivising employees to develop social capital), ii) access (map your networks using organisational network analysis), and iii) ability (break through organisational barriers e.g. by redesigning workplaces).
Paying more attention to (social capital) can help organizations bring people back to the office, cultivate distinctive workplaces, and improve productivity—and ultimately create better overall organizational performance.
REBECCA HINDS AND BOB SUTTON – Meeting Overload Is a Fixable Problem
The pandemic and the shift to remote and now hybrid work has prompted an avalanche of research and commentary on the rise in the number of meetings and the impact they can have on productivity and wellbeing. Rebecca Hinds and Bob Sutton have been studying this topic within organisations since 2014 and, as their Harvard Business Review articles reveals, have found that “meetings create wasteful and soul-crushing friction.” To find out how to reduce that friction by “repairing” meetings, the authors conducted two studies — “Meeting Doomsday” and a “Meeting Reset” — at Asana (see FIG 11). They used what they learned to create a step-by-step guide to help managers identify, eliminate, and repair broken meetings. In their article, they discuss five key ingredients for success including adopting a ‘subtraction mindset’ and using data to decide what meetings should be subtracted.
THE GREAT RESIGNATION
AARON DE SMET, BONNIE DOWLING, MARINO MUGAYAR-BALDOCCHI AND BILL SCHANINGER – Gone for now, or gone for good? How to play the new talent game and win back workers | AARON DE SMET, BONNIE DOWLING, BRYAN HANCOCK AND BILL SCHANINGER – The Great Attrition is making hiring harder. Are you searching the right talent pools?
Perhaps the best of the multitude of articles that were published on the ‘Great Resignation’ in Autumn 2021 was McKinsey’s ‘Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction’? The choice is yours. The two follow-ups are just as impressive. The first article, published in March 2022, explores ways employers can attract and retain workers in a job market that in the US sees the number of job openings (10.9m) greatly exceed the number of new hires (6.3m). The authors provide analysis on employees who left jobs without another one to go to, who returned to work and why, and how companies can bring more workers back into the fold. The second piece, published in July, identifies four types of ‘non-traditionalist’ workers (Do-It Yourselfers, Idealists, Caregivers and Relaxers) that companies should target and present strategies to drive success with each. Credit to the McKinsey team of Aaron De Smet, Bonnie Dowling, Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi, Bill Schaninger, and Bryan Hancock.
JOSEPH FULLER AND WILLIAM KERR – The Great Resignation Didn’t Start with the Pandemic
There’s been much written about the ‘Great Resignation’, but while the pandemic has seen record numbers of employees quitting their jobs, according to research by Joseph Fuller and William Kerr, two professors at Harvard Business School, this is a long-term trend. The data clearly illustrates (see FIG 13) that quit levels have increased year on year from 2009 to 2019, and the figure for 2021 wasn’t much higher than expected. The authors then outline five factors (the ‘Five Rs’), all exacerbated by the pandemic, that have combined to contribute to this trend: retirement, relocation, reconsideration, reshuffling, and reluctance – “Workers are retiring in greater numbers but aren’t relocating in large numbers; they’re reconsidering their work-life balance and care roles; they’re making localized switches among industries, or reshuffling, rather than exiting the labor market entirely; and, because of pandemic-related fears, they’re demonstrating a reluctance to return to in-person jobs.”
DONALD SULL, CHARLES SULL AND BEN ZWEIG – Toxic Culture Is Driving the Great Resignation
A fascinating research collaboration between Ben Zweig of Revelio Labs and Donald Sull and Charlie Sull of Culture X, which analyses 34 million online employee profiles to identify U.S. workers who left their employer between April and September 2021. The data enables company-level attrition to be estimated for the Culture 500 and reveals the top five predictors of attrition (see FIG 14) and four actions companies can take in the short term to reduce attrition. A powerful read with some excellent visualisations. Once you’ve read this article, I recommend delving into the two follow-up pieces on toxic culture by Donald and Charles: i) Why Every Leader Needs to Worry About Toxic Culture (written with William Cipolli and Caio Brighenti), and ii) How to Fix a Toxic Culture.
GIANNI GIACOMELLI – Why some quit, and some stay: a surprising take
Most of the more sensational headlines we read about the (not so) Great Resignation emanate from data based on intent to quit surveys, which study after study finds aren’t the best predictor of actual employee attrition. Instead, as Gianni Giacomelli writes, people analytics teams in the more data-savvy companies find that analysing network strength (as it relates to emotional support and ability to make an impact) is a more reliable predictor of flight risk. Gianni’s article breaks this down and provides a powerful visualisation (see FIG 15) to illustrate this. A spotter’s badge to Hung Lee for highlighting this resource in his excellent weekly Recruiting Brainfood newsletter.
ANTON SMESSAERT, IAN COOK, CARLINA KIM, MIKE EVERITT, ANDREA DERLER, AND MACGUIRE RINTOUL – Turnover Contagion Is Real: A data-based approach to reducing attrition
An insightful study by Visier Inc. on the phenomenon of turnover contagion, which finds that employees on the same team are 9.1% more likely to resign in the period after a colleague leaves. The study also finds that the peak risk of turnover contagion is 70 days after the first resignation, and that mitigation strategies should be targeted at 45 to 135 days after the first team member resigns. The report also provides tips for managers to mitigate the risk of turnover contagion such as conducting stay interviews, exploring internal mobility options, cohort onboarding and other ways to keep engagement up. Kudos to the authors: Anton Smessaert, Ian Cook, Carlina Kim, Mike Everitt, Andrea Derler, Ph.D., and Macguire R..
JONATHAN FERRAR, NAOMI VERGHESE AND NEREA GONZÀLEZ – Impacting Business Value: Leading Companies in People Analytics Article | Full Report
Insight222’s third annual People Analytics Trends study highlights the continued growth in the importance and influence of people analytics in global organisations. People analytics leaders are gaining more influence across the top of organisations, with 21% of leaders reporting directly to the CHRO, compared to 13% in 2021. Moreover, of the 184 companies that participated in the research, 88% have worked on topics requested by the board of directors this past year. The analysis found that Leading Companies invest, measure and scale people analytics more than other companies and display seven characteristics (see FIG 17) that enables them to deliver value on a consistent basis. Our research on Leading Companies – specifically the investments made in, and the financial value derived from people analytics, enabled us to identify four types of people analytics teams (see FIG 18). Download the full report for more detail. Kudos to the authors: Jonathan Ferrar, Naomi Verghese and Nerea González Sedano.
PATRICK COOLEN AND JAAP VELDKAMP – Crossing the Second Wall of HR
Patrick Coolen has been sharing insights about the people analytics journey at ABN Amro since 2014, which by happy coincidence is the same year I started compiling these data-driven HR compendiums. In his latest article, written with his colleague Jaap Veldkamp, ‘the Second Wall of HR’ (see FIG 19) is introduced, where an organisation shifts to deploying people analytics at scale. They share examples of ‘Deployed Analytics’ at ABN AMRO Bank N.V. e.g. a) a vector model to accurately classify open text comments by employees in surveys, and b) a personalised recommendation engine for internal mobility. Finally, Patrick and Jaap provide guidance on four factors that are helping ABN Amro to deliver deployed analytics successfully: i) augmenting the skills of the people analytics team with a machine learning engineer, ii) reinforcing the partnership with IT, iii) doubling down on privacy and ethics (“We only apply personalized analytics if it benefits the employee”), and iv) implementing a strategy for analytical models – both those built in-house and those bought from vendors – “to keep analytical models transparent, reusable, and easy to maintain.”
Crossing the second wall is about delivering continuous analytics at scale
PRASAD SETTY – People Analytics Amplifies the Human Aspect
When one studies the history of people analytics, as Jonathan Ferrar and I did extensively as part of the research for our book – Excellence in People Analytics, the seminal role Google played in popularising the field is evident. Examples such as Project Oxygen (on what makes a great manager) and Project Aristotle (on what makes an effective team) helped Google blaze a path that others have subsequently trod. Prasad Setty led the people analytics team at Google for over 10 years, and in this article shares insights into how Google has used data to drive people, culture and organisational strategies, and also reveals what the focus of people analytics at Google has been during the pandemic: “In the Google context, as we’ve been navigating the pandemic, there are three outcomes that we try to make sure we understand: productivity, well-being and connectedness. Each of these three things is measurable and individually important, yet at the same time, they are interconnected.”
People analytics shouldn’t be about substituting human decisions or replacing humans; it should instead be about assisting people to make better decisions
HENRIK HÅKANSSON – People Analytics: Building the right foundation
Henrik Håkansson who has led people analytics teams at companies including Sony and Delivery Hero, shares some of his learnings in an article that focuses on how to build the right foundation and the key considerations as you embark upon and travel on your people analytics journey. These include setting your vision (see FIG 20) and defining the drivers that will inform and push you forward on your journey, which Henrik distils into six categories: global, accessible, continuous, business driven, comparable and quality.
KEITH McNULTY – You Don’t Need a Data Scientist, You Need a Data Engineer
Our research at Insight222 on the people analytics operating model found that leading companies have data scientists and data engineers in their teams. Keith McNulty, who leads talent science and analytics at McKinsey, explains why it’s such an exciting time to be a data engineer, the skills they possess and three consequences for organisations of not hiring data engineers: i) Wasted effort in repeated data cleaning and restructuring by analysts, ii) Errors and inconsistencies in analysis, iii) Attrition of data scientists and analysts because of i) and ii).
Too many organizations are not hiring enough data engineers and do not fundamentally understand the value they bring to the table.
COLE NAPPER – You’re leading People Analytics: Now What? Part 1: Creating useful people analytics dashboards | Part 2: Strategy and implementation of people analytics | Part 3: Executing an effective people analytics project | Part 4: Building a Team | Part 5: Overrated vs Underrated | Part 6: The first principles of talent
2022’s breakout writer in the people analytics field has to be Cole Napper, now VP of People Analytics and Product Evangelist at Orgnostic and one of the intrepid duo (with Scott Hines) behind the excellent Directionally Correct podcast. Cole’s six-part series framed under the theme of ‘You’re leading People Analytics: Now what?’ is a must read. The first instalment looks at why many leaders start by creating a dashboard (“it’s an oldie but a goodie”) and how to do this using a three-step model: Data, Context, Story. The second article examines how the leader can design and implement a successful strategy including quantifying the impact of people analytics work – see FIG 21 – (“how do we pay for ourselves?”). Then, part 3 takes a closer look at how to execute a people analytics project, which Cole brings to life through a seven-step model: People Analytics Problem Solving Steps. Part 4 offers thoughts on the composition and competencies of people analytics teams in large companies and, also startups/SMEs, as well as the pros and cons of the people analytics business partner role (“People analytics leaders who discuss how incapable HRBPs are, and attempt to circumvent them consistently, are being elitist and impractical”). Part 5 discusses overrated (e.g. turnover prediction models) and underrated (e.g. ethics and privacy) concepts in people analytics. Finally, Part 6 presents six principles of talent and how they relate to competitive advantage.
NICHOLAS GARBIS – Measuring the Value of People Analytics Article | White Paper | Buying or Building A People Analytics Platform – A Story of Two Teams | Blueprint for Building A People Analytics Team
Congratulations to Nicholas Garbis, who recently announced towards the end of 2022 that he was moving to Ford to lead people analytics. His sojourn from being a practitioner was certainly productive as during Nick’s two-and-a-half years with One Model, he produced a number of compelling white papers all related to driving value with people analytics. Three of these were released in 2022. The first paper on measuring value presents a new line of thinking and challenges the commonly used ROI approach to evaluating investments in people analytics, whether they be technology, product design, training, communications, or change management. The second paper provides an insightful contribution to the build vs. buy debate on people analytics technology, and is framed around a story of two hypothetical teams that are contemplating the buy or build options and seeking to understand the value they will be able to generate for the business in each scenario. The third and final paper offers guidance on how to structure your people analytics team, including the roles and how to set the team up for success.
NAOMI VERGHESE – Eight Steps to Successfully Democratise People Analytics Data
The Insight222 People Analytics Trends 2021 study introduced a model on how to create a data driven model for HR. One of the three elements identified (alongside investing in the people analytics function and focusing on delivering value for the business) is embedding data driven decision making across HR business partners and managers. One of the key steps in achieving this is to democratise data across the organisation by investing in accessible and easy to use tools. In her excellent article, Naomi Verghese draws on insights from the likes of Steve Scott (Standard Chartered), Nerys Mutlow (ServiceNow), Vipin Sharma (Tata Steel), Jimmy Zhang (Takeda), Alexis Saussinan (Merck), Anshul Sheopuri (IBM) and Dawn Klinghoffer (Microsoft), and introduces an eight-step model to successfully democratise people data across the organisation (see FIG 23).
LEXY MARTIN – The Age of People Analytics: Practices leading to value from people analytics maturity | CATHERINE CHEEK – Four Critical Insights from the 2021 People Analytics Maturity Survey
One of the standout headlines of Lexy Martin (she/her)’s insightful report for Visier Inc., is that her research finds that adopting people analytics is strongly correlated to better business and talent outcomes. Other findings include: i) companies that are using people analytics to improve diversity and inclusion outperform their peers, ii) advanced organisations pull data from more data sources, and iii) HRBPs are becoming more skilled at using data and analytics (see FIG 24). While the report (and many of the visualisations) are framed through a Visier lens, the key findings (especially the need to create a data-driven culture) are instructive for organisations looking to derive more value from people analytics. Moreover, the comparison between the 2018 and 2021 research highlights the huge growth in the field.
PETER ROMERO AND ANDREAS KYPRIANOU – Systems Theory In People Analytics – Or: The Joys Of Open World Gaming
One of the articles that featured in my round-up of the Best HR and People Analytics Articles of 2021 was Peter Romero’s and Andreas Kyprianou’s Systems Thinking In People Analytics – Or: Exploring The Art Of Ripening An Avocado. Thankfully, there’s no ‘second album syndrome’ for this pair of intrepid people analytics leaders as their sophomore is more akin to Doolittle than the Second Coming. Peter and Andreas focus the follow-up on breaking down systems theory (the overarching theory that encompasses systems thinking), highlighting how it helps to provide clarity on where to direct exploration and experimentation when it comes to people analytics. The article is full of learning (e.g. understand why people analytics practitioners should focus on macrosystems, exosystems and mesosystems, as well as microsystems and individual systems), and practical tips (“Get on the ONA bandwagon”). Wonderful.
THOMAS C. REDMAN – Your Data Initiatives Can’t Just Be for Data Scientists
Tom Redman has published numerous articles over the years on enterprise data and analytics topics that can easily be applied to people analytics. This Harvard Business Review article is another to add to the collection. Redman outlines why analytics teams must work with their ‘regular’ colleagues (i.e. HRBPs and business leaders for people analytics) to develop an understanding of their challenges, identify opportunities for analytics work and provide them with tools that help solve their problems. He also advocates analytics teams asking two questions for each data project: i) Who will this effect? And ii) How can we get them involved as soon as possible?
ALEXANDER LOCHER AND ISABELLE STAIGER – How can people analytics put humans at the center of your ESG strategy?
In the epilogue of Excellence in People Analytics, Jonathan Ferrar and I presented four themes that we believe will drive the continued growth of people analytics. One of these is improving society through using people analytics to provide value beyond the organisation in areas such as inclusion, sustainability, and climate. In their article, Alexander S. Locher and Isabelle C. Staiger of EY Switzerland, explain how people analytics can support and enhance ESG strategy, offering insights beyond that found in typical ESG reporting: “A good ESG strategy is closely aligned with an employee’s experience through its different stages. Be it to measure the carbon footprint of an employee including the business travel (environmental), value and care for your employees wellbeing (social) or give the human factor in risk management the right attention (governance).”
EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE, LISTENING AND WELLBEING
MARK MORTENSEN AND AMY EDMONDSON – Rethink Your Employee Value Proposition
The powerhouse duo of Amy Edmondson and Mark Mortensen unveil the findings of their recent research, which highlights the need to shift from a predominantly material approach to attracting and retaining talent to a more sophisticated and systemic employee value proposition composed of four interrelated elements (see FIG 28). Alongside material offerings (e.g. compensation), the model has three other elements, which improve hiring and retention and can lead to a thriving and sustainable organisation. These are: i) opportunities to develop and grow (“All the ways an organization helps employees acquire new skills and become more valuable in the labor market”), ii) connection and community (“Their foundation is an energizing culture that allows people to express themselves candidly and engenders a sense of belonging”), and; iii) meaning and purpose (“They’re the answer to the core question of why employees do the work they do”). The article provides numerous examples to highlight the benefits of a systemic and integrated approach. Moreover, the authors have developed a free survey tool that will help you assess how well your company’s employee value proposition serves your needs. You can access this tool at Integratedevp.org.
Approaching employee attraction and retention as a system helps avoid a race to the bottom, makes a company’s employee value proposition harder to imitate, and helps create a clear narrative that reduces us-versus-them tensions between managers and their reports.
JENNIFER SIGLER WITH VOLKER JACOBS AND TIMO TISCHER – The Big, Bad State of EX: Findings from the State of EX 2022 Survey
An excellent report on the state of employee experience by Volker Jacobs, Jennifer E. Sigler, PhD and the teams at TI PEOPLE and FOUNT Global, Inc.. It confirms that the rapid growth of EX is set to continue with the current business environment being disproportionally favourable to investment with 81% of respondents reporting that the intense competition for talent is motivating more investment in EX. The corresponding figure for return-to-office/hybrid work is 63%. With EX in many organisations still being in its infancy, the report helpfully breaks down some of the key challenges organisations face in achieving their EX goals. The top five all centre on measurement, cross-functional collaboration, and experience redesign. Measuring the business/financial impact of EX improvements is the number one challenge – it is a struggle for 85% of respondents.
KATE GAUTIER, TIFFANI BOVA, KEXIN CHEN AND LALITH MUNASINGHE – Research: How Employee Experience Impacts Your Bottom Line
As the fields of employee experience and people analytics) continue to grow, HR can expect to increasingly be asked to quantify the business outcomes of EX investments. In this article, Kate Gautier, Tiffani Bova, Kexin Chen, and Lalith Munasinghe present the findings from their study of retail stores whose customer-facing employee base was more tenured, had more experience in prior rotations, was more highly skilled, and was more skewed towards full time, and how this led to a 50% increase in revenue. The authors conclude with a powerful observation: “With business cases like this, HR should finally be able to shed its age-old ‘cost-center’ reputation and start stepping up to its rightful place — a strategic function that drives both customer experience and revenue”.
By capturing and connecting the right data, executives will begin to see the link between employees, customers, and revenue.
MARK MORTENSEN AND MARILYN ZAKHOUR – To Craft a Better Employee Experience, Collect the Right Data
As organisations work to craft a better employee experience, are they collecting the right data? In their Harvard Business Review article, Marilyn Zakhour and Mark Mortensen share techniques and tools that have hitherto been used to understand users and customers, and turn them inward to help design employee experience. They outline four tools for collecting data: i) Auditing archival data (“Archival data provides an unbiased overview of the organization. The idea is to review existing artifacts and documentation and extract insights and opportunities.”), ii) Interviews (“They (interviews) allow you to get a sense of the stories behind the quantitative data you’ll collect later.”), iii) Day-in-the-life observations (“We typically use this to validate what we were told during interviews.”), and iv) Surveys (“Surveys are particularly effective at validating the stories and insights you gathered using qualitative tools.”). For more insights from Mark Mortensen, have a listen to his recent conversation with me on the Digital HR Leaders podcast: How to Foster Collaboration Within Hybrid Working Teams.
Andrew Marritt, founder and CEO at Organization View, is my go-to expert on applying text analytics to people data, and a mainstay in my annual compendium of resources since the first one was published in 2014. In one of his 2022 articles, Andrew provides a ‘how to’ guide for practitioners looking to use verbatim data from employee surveys (as well as other employee lifecycle surveys such as exit or onboarding) to help understand, shape, and improve employee experience. The article provides guidance on areas such as how to classify text into themes and co-occurrence of themes (see example in FIG 31), identification of key topics and those that link cause and effect, building personas and potential options, and combining other data sets. If you enjoyed this article, I can also recommend digging into two other articles Andrew published last year: i) The most important analysis you can do with employee pulse surveys, and Four ways to use qualitative data in People Analytics.
DAWN KLINGHOFFER AND ELIZABETH MCCUNE – Why Microsoft Measures Employee Thriving, Not Engagement
When it comes to listening and acting on employee feedback – and then sharing its work with the external community, Microsoft is an exemplar organisation. In this article for Harvard Business Review, Dawn Klinghoffer and Elizabeth McCune, PhD explain why the pandemic and emergence of hybrid led Microsoft to move from measuring employee engagement to measuring employee thriving. Defined as “to be energized and empowered to do meaningful work,” Dawn and Elizabeth explain how their mindset shifted around this topic, what they’ve discovered among their employees, and what your organisation can learn from their research. For more on this topic, listen to Dawn in conversation with me on the Digital HR Leaders podcast: How Microsoft Created A Thriving Workforce By Going Beyond Employee Engagement.
Employees who were thriving and not thriving were both talking about culture, but in vastly different ways
JACQUELINE BRASSEY, ERICA COE, MARTIN DEWHURST, KANA ENOMOTO, BARBARA JEFFERY, RENATA GIAROLA AND BRAD HERBIG – Addressing employee burnout: Are you solving the right problem?
Despite unprecedented investment in resources to support employee mental health and wellbeing, burnout is at an all-time high – a situation only accelerated and exacerbated by the pandemic. As such, this extensive global study of nearly 15,000 employees and 1,000 HR decision makers in 15 countries by the McKinsey Health Institute is a must-read. Findings from the study include: one in four employees globally report experiencing symptoms of burnout, there is a 22% gap between employer and employee perceptions of wellbeing at work, and there is a strong correlation between toxic work cultures and burnout (see FIG 1). The report highlights eight questions for reflection and provides recommendations on how firms can address employee mental-health and well-being challenges by taking a systemic approach focused on changing the causes rather than the symptoms of poor outcomes. For more on this topic, do listen to one of the report’s authors, Jacqui Brassey, PhD, MAfN, in conversation with me on the Digital HR Leaders podcast: Creating a Supportive Work Culture by Nurturing Mental Health & Wellbeing.
With collaboration and shared commitment, employers can make a meaningful difference in the lives of their employees and the communities they live in.
EMILY KILLHAM – New Data Reveals the State of Employee Listening
Emily Killham summarises the key findings of a 2022 Perceptyx study on the state of employee listening, which was conducted with over 600 global organisations and presents a maturity model for employee listening (see FIG 33). Definitely worth a read.
DAVE ULRICH – A Blueprint for the Emerging Mental Health Agenda: Why, What, and How for HR and Business Leaders
The focus of organisations on improving employee wellbeing and mental health has intensified significantly over the last two years. As such, this extensive blueprint from Dave Ulrich, covering the why, what and how for HR and business leaders to address mental health in their organisations is extremely timely. As ever, Dave provides a wealth of practical tools, guidance and powerful visualisations to help HR be better mental health proponents (see examples in FIG 34).
Part 2 of my 60 best people analytics and HR articles of 2022 will be released next week.
Thanks to all the authors and contributors featured here in Part 1, and also in Part 2 as well as across the monthly collections from 2022 – 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 and sponsors of the Digital HR Leaders Podcast in 2022 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 2023.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Green 🇺🇦 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 90 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.