Flying through clouds
Director of Employee Wellbeing
On occasion, an aircraft will fly directly through a cloud.
This might make some passengers nervous as they’ll no doubt wonder what the risk is by the pilot not being able to see the sky ahead of him. The basics of flying require a pilot to be able to maintain a safe altitude, avoid obstacles, to know where exactly they are, and to find their way safely to a runway. A pilot does all of this through the instruments in front of them, and could easily fly a plane without ever looking out of the window. Pilots of commercial airplanes work to Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, IFR means "to govern flight under conditions in which flight by outside visual reference is not safe. IFR flight depends upon flying by reference to instruments in the flight deck". The data that’s displayed in front of a pilot is enough to tell him all the info they need to know in order to fly safely.
The data that’s now available to HR means they too can navigate and develop people strategies without having to be stood on the ‘shop floor’. In 2017, HR has a culture that’s driven by data. So important is data to HR that many now consider the skills of a HR manger to include data analysis. If we look at a retailer for example, their customer data is so rich, it’s referred to as an immersive data set. Many retailers know vast amounts about their customers, but nothing about their own employees. The attention spent on improving the customer experience was fuelled by data, and the employee experience needs it, too. At the recent People Analytics conference in London, Avon revealed that they knew how many lipsticks they sold around the world every minute, but didn’t know anything useful about their employees.
77% of executives now rate people analytics as a key priority, according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report.
The visibility of data within HR is key. However, showing this data to people at a time when they need it, and in a way they can interpret it is a challenge. HR data can be vast and complex, and showing your colleagues a detailed data set isn’t the way to get them to understand you. The data you use must be easily identifiable and help you punctuate a narrative. This is especially important when the data is being used outside of HR with teams and leaders who don’t understand what the figures mean.
Data is your warning sign. Data tells you what things are going right and what things are going wrong. Just like your cockpit controls, the data tells you when something is about to fail. Open access to the data (via visible dashboards) means HR can continuously listen. Continuous listening means we can pay attention and react to what the data is telling us. Retailers have used customer data to track shopping patterns, plan resource, and predict future spends for years and now HR are able to use data to make the same kind of predictions. Within OneHub’s analytics manager, HR can see more than 20 points of data to inform their decision-making, warn them of issues, and help them prepare for the future.
It's got to be real (time)
We now live in a world where we can access real-time data easily. Banking apps mean we no longer have to call the bank between 9 and 5, or go to a cashpoint to see how much money we have. We can access this information wherever we are and whenever we want it. The feedback that data gives us isn’t useful unless we are able to react to it immediately.
For example, many years ago, if an employee benefit was performing poorly, HR wouldn’t know about it until the election window closed and the data was shared. In 2017, OneHub can show you real-time benefit take-up data which allows you to act quickly and correct mistakes or improve communications. For example, if you realise that one department or country has lower take-up than the rest of the business, you can react to that in real time. Providing additional communications to increase awareness or education of a benefit means you can immediately improve the experience for an employee. You’ll recognise how retailers do this when you leave an item in your online shopping basket, and a few hours later you get an email reminding you and offering assistance or discounts to complete the transaction.
Just a 24-hour delay in providing data to HR can negatively impact the employee and employer experience. Waiting for a system to collate data from numerous sources or countries means valuable time is lost. Imagine finding out your benefit take-up was struggling, or that people were finding it difficult to access your system 24 hours after your window had closed? How useful is that data then?
Data can help HR link what it’s doing to the overall business strategy. This means that HR can not only align its strategy with the wider business, but it can help shape it.
‘Regrettable attrition’ refers to those employees who leave when you really didn’t want them to. Through services offered by the likes of PwC, data can now famously predict the circumstances by which an employee might leave your organisation based on how much they are paid and how long their commute is. But with OneHub, you’re also able to use the data in front of you to see how the actions of an individual may be leading towards disengagement. Lack of interest in the platform or ignoring communications can lead HR to examine other datasets like absence and performance, and then you can start to build a picture of a flight risk employee, and react to that.
As technology continues to dominate the workplace, data can start to reveal how your employees are engaging with it, and this in turn will drive how your organisation uses technology going forwards. Since OneHub went global in 2013, Benefex have seen more than 60% of employees accessing our platform using a mobile device. As we delve deeper into our own data, we’ll be able to communicate to specific employees at a time when we know they are most engaged in the platform, using media that our data tells us they respond to the best.
Gethin is a psychology graduate who has been helping some of the world’s largest organisations to improve their employee experience and wellbeing for almost two decades. The last 8 years have been spent working as part of the senior leadership team here at Benefex. As a frequent writer and speaker on employee experience and employee wellbeing, Gethin has been featured in The Guardian, The Huffington Post and The Financial Times as well as major HR, Reward and Pensions publications. Gethin is also a regular keynote speaker and guest lecturer at events, and a founding member of the Engage for Success Wellbeing Thought Action Group. He is also listed on the Employee Engagement Powerlist and one of Cardiff Life’s ‘One to Watch In The City’.
In 2018, Gethin published his first book - the 5 star rated Amazon HR bestseller ‘A World of Good: Lessons From Around the World in Improving the Employee Experience’, which has gone on to inspire HR and Reward teams at some of the world’s best known brands.