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Information is power. Those who have the insights can sometimes have the upper-hand. But the old way of siloing people data and the insights it produces is no longer the best people analytics strategy in this new world of work. For example, the top three external issues CEOs expect to influence or disrupt their business strategy over the next 12 months are a shortage of labor and skills, the ongoing pandemic, and supply chain disruptions, according to the Winter 2022 Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey. These seemingly uncontrollable issues involve several business functions, yet all have one thing in common at their core: the workforce.
The future of management requires a proactive, predictive people analytics strategy to empower organizational growth. When people data is only used by HR, a significant portion of business value is left on the table. Putting people analytics tools into the hands of managers at all levels not only increases transparency and accountability, it also aligns everyone in the organization to a single point of truth, while building trust in the data.
Arriving at this mindset requires a shift away from thinking that people data only belongs to the HR function.
The transformational power of transparent people data
“When everyone has access to data, data becomes more than just a single point of information. It becomes a North Star,” says Paul Rubenstein, CHRO at Visier. He’s passionate about what’s achievable when managers and leaders have access to people data. “By having everyone grounded in the same set of data, you can take the smallest moments and the decisions that happen every day, at every level, and connect them to a larger strategy and a bigger outcome.”
Mark Smith, Vice President, Workforce Strategy & Analytics at Providence agrees, explaining that people insights are part of the key indicators of overall organizational health. “You wouldn't hold anything back on your finance information. You wouldn't hold back on your quality information. So don’t hold anything back on your people information,” he says.
Creating transparency in people data helps everyone to get aligned more quickly to one story. When data is an organization’s “North Star,” as Paul says, it aligns disparate groups within an enterprise and enables higher levels of efficiency. “Building trust in the data is part of what we do to create speed in our actions,” says Mark. “And broadcasting data collapses the distance to impact for the strategies that are created in the C-suite,” adds Paul.
Another benefit of democratizing people data? Accountability. “When everyone can see how their individual decisions connect to a strategy, it helps change the way organizations think about accountability in DEI, revenue, changes in the workforce,” Paul says. When harnessing the power of many small decisions so they add up, “You're then harnessing connections with the larger enterprise goals. Arriving at this harmonious outcome, though, requires a reallocation of data ownership, and that’s not always an easy task.”
Barriers to democratization of people data
Creating a well-oiled machine of insights and actions requires a shift in thinking about the value of data and who should have access to it. In the past, coming from a Human Resources perspective, there was a mindset that data was a reactive service. Leaders would have a question, and HR would wait for that question before offering a report. That mindset made it much more challenging to create an environment where consistent, readily-accessible insights are available. It also prevented organizations from having one consistent story.
Those who currently “own” the data might like to be seen as the go-to expert, and giving up that sense of information ownership is often the first step to getting data into the hands of more people. Mark acknowledges that building this trust in sharing data more widely may require some effort. “We have to make the shift to say our higher value is in transparency. It's in consistent, actionable insights, and being able to teach our leaders how to use the analytics,” he explains. “That frees us up to continue to ask the questions that we need to ask, and to really be thinking about what will propel us forward over the next five-plus years.”
Data democratization is the future of leadership
At Deloitte, recent High-Impact People Analytics research found that high-performing organizations put people analytics tools in the hands of leaders, managers, and workers at all levels. “It is not easy for an organization to differentiate themselves on product alone,” says Pete DeBellis V.P., HC Insights Lead, Insights2Action™ by Deloitte. “Having the right people with the right skills and capabilities to do the work, as well as a process to get the information your workforce needs to do that work and achieve desired outcomes is critical for any organization.”
The future of leadership depends on this open flow of information from the top-down and the bottom-up. Access to people data tools and insights allows managers to, in turn, support, empower, enable, and—perhaps most importantly—unlock workers’ potential and performance in a rapidly-changing world of work. Pete says he foresees people analytics solutions spreading “beyond leadership and into the everyday work lives of employees to bring bite-sized, just-in-time insights for individuals and teams.” This expanded level of access can propel productivity and free people analytics teams to focus more on what they do best: develop models, provide more advanced analytical insights, and raise data literacy within their organizations.
People data as communication
Having a clear and consistent story is key to quick, effective decision-making. Sometimes people may fear transparency because they’re worried it will be seen as a competition—which areas of the company are better than others. But it’s an opportunity to spread good ideas more effectively. “We want to be able to look at our data because we may have areas where there are solutions in place,” Mark says. “Rather than coming together to try to create a new solution, we should learn about what others are doing and rapidly adapt so that everyone can realize the success. So there's no reason you can't be transparent. It should promote expert collaboration—hopefully with speedier adoption of best-known practices.”
From a future of leadership and management perspective, people data enables leaders and line managers to develop a better understanding of important employee challenges and make more informed decisions on a day-to-day basis. For the data-empowered organization of the future to thrive, however, HR leaders, managers, and ultimately workers themselves need a thorough understanding of their core people analytics strategy and the types of solutions available to support those activities.
On March 17, join Visier, Deloitte, and leaders from Providence and Protective Life Insurance Company for a discussion on how they distribute people data to people managers for improved decision making at every level. Sign up for the webinar here.