By Daniel J. West
Why do we still rely on our gut when making decisions about employees, our most valuable resource, when every other major business decision is grounded in data?
The biggest concern that I hear from chief experience and resources officers is: How do we ensure our people are engaged and productive as we move toward remote or hybrid work arrangements?
Managers tend to manage the way they were managed, but with a shift to ‘the new normal,’ they will need to adopt a new set of tools that provide objective insights to make strategic people-related decisions. Alongside other traditional sources of people data, the digital collaboration data you collect across your office productivity tools like Office365, GSuite, Slack, and Workplace by Facebook (along with even project management systems like JIRA and Asana) is invaluable when applied effectively.
As teams continue to be fully or partially remote for the foreseeable future, Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) can be instrumental in identifying engagement, productivity, burnout, and attrition risk patterns, while driving innovation and success for your change initiatives.
Raising questions about how your network collaborates
Here are some starter questions that can be used to observe common patterns that arise and what they may imply:
- Which individuals or teams are disengaging from the organization?
- Are teams collaborating enough to drive successful cross-functional projects and innovation?
- Where are the bottlenecks in information flow across your organization? Are silos forming?
- Are future leaders being connected to the right people to ensure their success?
- Are your newly on-boarded employees and people from diverse backgrounds integrating well with the rest of your company?
Along with empowering you to optimize every aspect of the employee experience, ONA can also help identify which individuals or teams you should leverage as change agents to drive transformation across the organization.
Predicting attrition: Uber case study
In my previous role as Head of HR International at Uber, we analyzed metadata from the internal communications networks of people who had left the company over the last six months, and were able to zoom in on a specific individual’s activity over time.
For a particular key player, I noticed a sharp decrease in engagement three to four months before leaving. I interviewed their team and asked if they observed this disengagement; the team said yes, but only four to six weeks before they left. As an organization with this kind of data, we determined that we had two to three months between disengagement and when the team finally caught on.
Let’s say you observe that communication is increasing. This rise may be among individuals who are driving projects and departments forward. Another thought prompt would be to examine how people communicate during the onboarding process.
For example, if a high performer talks to 20 people regularly (even if they aren’t in the same department), it’s a great indicator of how those 20 will be needed for a newcomer to be as effective in a similar or replaced role, versus the ten or so on the individual’s direct team that the handbook prescribes.
In a broad sense, ONA gives you warnings with real-time information on how things are changing. Combined with data from traditional engagement surveys and managerial EQ, ONA can be an extremely powerful addition to your managerial and people analytics toolkit to engage, develop, and retain your top talent.
While it might not show you exactly why something is occurring, it can certainly provide a far more precise picture of what is happening, and this is just the beginning of what is possible.
Daniel is the Founder and CEO of people analytics platform Panalyt.
About the Author
Daniel is the Founder and CEO at Panalyt, a people analytics platform that helps companies drive desired business outcomes through strategic people decisions. Prior to founding Panalyt, Daniel has held senior HR Leadership roles at Uber, Apple, The Noble Group. and Morgan Stanley. He has also provided strategic HR consulting to several hyper-growth startups such as noon.com, aCommerce, and Sonder.