The best HR and People Analytics articles of May 2019

Given I am a lifelong supporter of Liverpool football club, I make no apology for starting this month's countdown by referencing the club's triumph in this season's Champions League Final.

Perhaps I should explain that this isn't simply because I want to glorify in the victory of Jurgen Klopp's magnificent reds over the gallant but ultimately inferior Tottenham Hotspur, but also because I want to highlight the role of data and people analytics in the resurgence of England's greatest football club.

According to a fascinating recent New York Times article, more than other major clubs, Liverpool incorporates data analysis into the decisions it makes, from the corporate to the tactical. Coupled with Klopp's inspiring leadership, strong team camaraderie and some wonderful talent, Liverpool's use of data and analysis has helped propel it back into the elite of European football.

Just like the best people analytics, Liverpool doesn't just rely on data alone. The article stresses that the tactics Klopp (a convert to data-driven analysis since joining Liverpool) employs "end up being a mix of the data-driven and the intuitive."

I'm pretty sure that if Klopp and Liverpool's director of research, Ian Graham took the seven-question survey (see FIG 1Jonathan Ferrar and I created as a taster of our Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics model, then I'm convinced they would score highly. To date, nearly 500 respondents have taken the survey and later this year, we will publish some research on the findings.

FIG 1:    Are you creating value from people analytics? - click on the image to take the survey (Source: Jonathan Ferrar, David Green, Insight222)

FIG 1: Are you creating value from people analytics? - click on the image to take the survey (Source: Jonathan Ferrar, David Green, Insight222)

If you'd like to take the 'Are You Creating Value from People Analytics' survey, click on this link (or FIG 1). The survey only takes two minutes to complete, and you'll be provided with a report highlighting your scores with tips on actions you may want to take.

Right, time to get on with this month's selection, which has a heavy focus on how people analytics is helping drive initiatives to understand, design and improve employee experience. Look out too for the 'From my desk' section towards the end, which highlights the Digital HR Leaders podcast and video series I host on behalf of myHRfuture, which launched in May.

If you enjoy this monthly selection of data-driven HR articles and don't already receive my weekly newsletter, click here to subscribe to The Digital HR Leader newsletter and please share with your colleagues.


PATRICK COOLEN & LUUK SOMBEZKI – The 10 Golden Rules of Continuous Employee Listening

Patrick Coolen only publishes one or two articles a year, but they are always worth the wait. One year on from his last masterpiece (a collaboration with Frank van den Brink) Patrick joins forces with his colleague Luuk Sombezki to share learnings on ABN AMRO’s Employee Experience journey including how they measure EX, how they have implemented continuous listening and how they are using people analytics to create value. If that wasn’t enough, Patrick and Luuk also reel off their ten golden rules of continuous listening (see FIG 2).

Employee Experience is not just another simple trick to boost engagement or performance. It takes time to adopt a service design mindset, collect data, measure the right things and work every day to increase the employee experience of your employees

FIG 2:    The 10 Golden Rules of Continuous Employee Listening (Source: Patrick Coolen and Luuk Sombezki)

FIG 2: The 10 Golden Rules of Continuous Employee Listening (Source: Patrick Coolen and Luuk Sombezki)


ANDREW MARRITT - Why Employee Experience demands new forms of measurement

Continuing the EX theme, Andrew Marritt (who is referenced in Patrick and Luuk’s article, and deserves huge kudos for highlighting the aforementioned Liverpool article to me) describes why the shift in a narrow focus on engagement to a wider one on EX has several implications for measurement. Instead of ineffectual traditional surveys (see more on this from Peter Cappelli and Liat Eldor in When Measuring Engagement Goes Wrong), Andrew advocates that effective EX measurement entails an exploratory, qualitative-first approach, which combines true listening of employee feedback, needs and ideas.

Asking simple, open questions will typically outperform analysing more structured, quantitative data

LEXY MARTIN - Creating an EVP for People Analytics

Lexy Martin cleverly adapts Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to create an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) for people analytics (see FIG 3). I’ve long advocated that if you can’t articulate the benefit of a people analytics project to employees, then you probably shouldn’t do it. This EVP, which Lexy co-created with Visier sparring partner Jan Schwarz, is a good start in helping mitigate against that.

A fully humanized people analytics practice gives a worker the tools to interpret and analyze her employee data to provide explicit value to her

FIG 3:    An Employee Value Proposition for People Analytics (Source: Lexy Martin, Visier)

FIG 3: An Employee Value Proposition for People Analytics (Source: Lexy Martin, Visier)


PRIYA BAGGA - The Future of Work: An Employee Perspective

Wonderfully insightful read from Priya Bagga on twelve factors driving the priorities, perspectives and expectations of today’s employees (see FIG 4). Lifelong employability, an inclusive culture and personalisation all rank high and the consequent need for a different style of leadership, a refresh for HR and a more data-driven approach are all clear pre-requisites. 

FIG 4:    The Future of Work - An Employee Perspective: 12 Factors to Create a Star Employee (Source: Priya Bagga)

FIG 4: The Future of Work - An Employee Perspective: 12 Factors to Create a Star Employee (Source: Priya Bagga)

TOM HAAK - Personalisation in HR: some ideas

A long but worthwhile read as Tom Haak presents some ideas on how personalisation can be applied across a tranche of HR programs (see example for learning in FIG 5). As Tom highlights, the way companies tailor services for employees is still eons behind what they do for customers, but there is movement and forward-thinking HR leaders are tapping into the expertise of their marketing cousins.

FIG 5:    The personalisation of learning: Micro learning: small learning interventions provided in the flow of work. Macro learning: learning something new, in the classroom or in another way (Source: Tom Haak)

FIG 5: The personalisation of learning: Micro learning: small learning interventions provided in the flow of work. Macro learning: learning something new, in the classroom or in another way (Source: Tom Haak)


JOHN SUMSER - AI Risks, Ethics, and Liability | Part 1 | Part 2

This is a quite brilliant two-part series from John Sumser on AI Risks, Ethics, and Liability. In Part 1, he tackles HR software product liability (‘from tools that could not hurt people to tools that can’) and lays out the ethics questions we should be asking ourselves (e.g. ‘Who owns employee data? How do you monitor the quality of the algorithm’s performance?’ Part 2 sees John dig into the questions you might want to ask your HR technology vendors as well as his own thoughts on how to manage new algorithms. Destined to become one of the most read and referenced articles of 2019. For more articles on ethics, check out a special edition of my newsletter entitled People Data for Good.

Some of today’s tools (and all of tomorrow’s) do much more than record and report. They suggest, recommend, decide, evaluate, prescribe, filter, analyze, monitor, and learn. Era 1 tools could not hurt people. Era 2 tools can


LEANDRA GRIEP – What is the ideal Span of Control?

What is the ideal span of control? This is a question that has long vexed HR and organisational leaders. This article by Leandra Griep describes a project Merck’s people analytics team undertook with their US sales organisation to determine the most effective team size to deliver the highest sales performance. Leandra’s article features as part of a recent edition of Visier’s digital magazine Clarity, which features a series of brilliant articles by the likes of John Boudreau, Manish Goel, Stela Lupushor and Amit Mohindra. A recommended read and hat tip to editors Karra Barron and Josie Sutcliffe.

People analytics is one of the top components of our Global HR strategic objectives (at Merck KGaA) to shape the people dimension of our business strategy


TIZIANA CASCIARO, AMY C. EDMONDSON & SUJIN JANG - What Cross-Silo Leadership Looks Like

How do leaders help their workforces break down silos and collaborate across functional and national boundaries to enable innovation and digitisation to thrive? According to the authors in this excellent HBR article, leaders need to do four things: i) develop and deploy ‘cultural brokers’ to help break down barriers, ii) encourage and train workers to ask the right questions (see FIG 6), iii) get people to see things through the eyes of others, iv) broaden everyone’s visions of networks of expertise inside and outside the company.

FIG 6:    How to ask good questions (Source: Casciaro et al, Harvard Business Review)

FIG 6: How to ask good questions (Source: Casciaro et al, Harvard Business Review)

GEORGE WESTERMAN, DEBORAH L. SOULE & ANAND ESWARAN - Building Digital-Ready Culture in Traditional Organizations

As the authors state in this long but rewarding article in the MIT Sloan Management Review, culture change is the biggest challenge of digital transformation for legacy companies. How can a company become more agile and innovative without alienating its best employees or wrecking the best of its existing practices? In this coruscating piece, the authors define four key values of digital culture: impact, speed, openness and autonomy, how digital and traditional practices overlap (see FIG 7) and provide a series of excellent examples including that of DBS Bank.

Developing a digital-ready culture does not mean doing away with all that is good in a traditional company’s culture. Instead, it’s a matter of communicating the desired values and then introducing some new practices while fine-tuning others

FIG 7:    The Spectrum of Digital and Traditional Practices (Source: Westerman et al, MIT Sloan Management Review)

FIG 7: The Spectrum of Digital and Traditional Practices (Source: Westerman et al, MIT Sloan Management Review)


MAX BLUMBERG - How to assess the organisational impact of L&D programmes through Value Profiling

As Max Blumberg highlights, learning and development is a significant investment for most companies and the challenge of the fourth industrial revolution will only see spend in this area soar. Therefore, it is vital that this investment can be translated into value for the business – rather than just for the individual. Max examines the Kirkpatrick Model – and it’s focus on individual-level impact, and recommends that learning practitioners may want to transition to alternative models that examine value at the organisational level including the Human Capital Value Profiler (see FIG 8).

FIG 8   : The Human Capital Value Profiler (Source: The Blumberg Partnership)

FIG 8: The Human Capital Value Profiler (Source: The Blumberg Partnership)

BERNARD MARR - The 10 Vital Skills You Will Need For The Future Of Work

The prolific Bernard Marr emphasises the importance of committing to lifelong learning in order to succeed in the future workplace, and highlights ten of the most important skills that will be required. These dovetail nicely with the findings of the recent HR Skills for the Future study I worked on with Jonathan Ferrar and Ian Bailie for myHRfuture.

Start by adopting a commitment to lifelong learning so you can acquire the skills you will need to succeed in the future workplace


IAN BAILIE - What is the Effect of AI and Automation on HR? | TOMAS CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC & REECE AKHTAR - Should Companies Use AI to Assess Job Candidates? | MIRANDA BOGEN - All the Ways Hiring Algorithms Can Introduce Bias | MIKE WALSH - When Algorithms Make Managers Worse | McKINSEY, ROGER BURKHARDT, NICOLAS HOHN & CHRIS WIGLEY – Leading your organisation to responsible AI

There’s a lot of hype about the rise of AI in HR and it can be difficult sometimes to sort the wheat from the chaff, so this month’s ‘special’ focuses on a selection of articles on the topic. First, Ian Bailie describes how HR tech vendors are applying AI and machine learning to their products as well as the skills HR professionals will need to develop. Secondly, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Reece Akhtar examine the use of AI in talent identification. Next Miranda Bogen highlights how algorithms can exacerbate bias in the hiring process. Then Mike Walsh writes that without careful consideration of algorithms we could end up in a data driven dystopia. Finally, McKinsey provides guidance for CEOs and business leaders on how to use AI responsibly (see FIG 9)

Deploying AI requires careful management to prevent unintentional but significant damage, not only to brand reputation but, more important, to workers, individuals, and society as a whole

FIG 9:    CEOs should provide guidance to help analytics teams build and use AI responsibly (Source: McKinsey)

FIG 9: CEOs should provide guidance to help analytics teams build and use AI responsibly (Source: McKinsey)


DIANE GHERSON, BRYAN HANCOCK & ANNA TAVIS – Make it Personal: Lessons from IBM on Reinventing Performance Management

Strictly speaking this is more ‘webinar’ than podcast, but however you classify it this is well worth an hour of your time as Diane Gherson, IBM’s CHRO, outlines how the company overcame cultural as well as technical challenges in revamping its performance management system.


RICHARD THALER & CADE MASSEY - Better Decision-Making

My personal highlight of the 2019 Wharton People Analytics Conference was this absorbing discussion between Nobel Prize Winner, author of Nudge and father of behavioural economics, Richard Thaler and Wharton Professor Cade Massey. Thaler stated at the outset that HR is ripe for revolution and that most companies are still not paying as much attention to people analytics as they should be. He then described how nudge theory supports transformation in complex organisations through a series of small incremental changes that deliver significant and substantial business results. A must-watch.


ORGVUE – Making People Count: 2019 study on People Analytics

It’s definitely worth checking out the recent study by OrgVue on the state of people analytics in 2019. Whilst the findings concur with other studies that people analytics is going mainstream (‘89% of organisations say people analytics is already part of the planning process’), the research finds a number of common challenges including a lack of collaboration between HR and Finance and a high demand for analytical skills.


BEN TEUSCH - How to Use Statistics in your People Analytics Projects

We’ve been building the myHRfuture Academy for just under a year now. The Academy provides an on-demand platform where you can get access to short, bitesized learning content to help you build knowledge in the skills you need to equip yourself for the future of HR. I get a lot of correspondence from people eagerly seeking out learning opportunities especially in people analytics, so thought it would be helpful to highlight one of the new courses in the Academy. Ben Teusch, who works in Facebook’s impressive people analytics team, has created a course - How to Use Statistics in your People Analytics Projects – that provides a quick and practical guide to understanding how statistical analysis can be leveraged to inform people analytics projects. A taster where Ben describes what questions you should ask in a People Analytics project is included below.


Digital HR Leaders podcast and video series

May was a landmark month as it saw the launch of my new Digital HR Leaders podcast and video series on myHRfuture. I've been blown away by the positive response to the first three episodes, which if you haven't listened to yet you can do so by clicking on the links below. Tune in to the last episode of series one with Eden Britt (June 11th). As well as the podcasts, do also check out the accompanying video highlights on the myHRfuture YouTube channel.

How to build a People Analytics function

Whilst I was in Las Vegas for UNLEASH a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being a guest on my good buddy Lars Schmidt's thought provoking 21st Century HR podcast where we talked about what is involved in building a people analytics function. The podcast is a preview of the Fast Company article that Lars and I collaborated on (see next entry).

This is why data is now more essential than ever in HR

My aforementioned Fast Company collaboration with Lars Schmidt, which provides analysis on the surge in adoption of people analytics and implemented correctly, it can radically improve a company’s bottom line.

How can you scale people analytics in a global organisation?

Guru Sethupathy shares his two-year journey with me of scaling people analytics at Capital One including insights on i) how he grew the team from 25 to 75 people, ii) how and why he developed a Centre of Excellence, iii) his philosophy on hiring and developing the team, iv) the dual focus on creating business impact as well as supporting employee experience and career development, v) his key responsibilities as leader plus his views on enablers of success. Guru has built one of the leading people analytics functions on the planet, so there is plenty to learn from here.


Finally, a big thank you to Marc ColemanChina GormanPaige Richmond and the entire UNLEASH team for booking me to speak at the show and moderate the Smart Data track In Las Vegas. I can't wait for Paris...

Thanks also to Anders Bang-Larsen and the team at HRtechX for inviting me to deliver the opening keynote at their inaugural conference in Copenhagen, and congrats on delivering such a successful first show.

Looking ahead to June, I'll be having a fireside chat with Unilever's inspiring CHRO Leena Nair at CogX on London on 10th June before heading over to New York to record a few upcoming episodes of the Digital HR Leader podcast.



David Green 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, 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. You can follow David on LinkedIn and Twitter and also subscribe to The Digital HR Leader weekly newsletter.


I’ll be chairing and/or speaking about people analytics, data-driven HR and the Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics model at the following events until the end of October 2019.