How Does Spotify use People Analytics?

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My guest on this week’s Digital HR Leaders podcast is Katarina Berg. The focus on HR continues to intensify, and with it does the importance of the role of the Chief Human Resources Officer. The CHRO role becomes even more critical in a hyper growth company where balancing culture and talent with the use of technology and data, can prove the difference between success and failure.

In this extract from our conversation, Katarina outlines some of the examples of how Spotify is using people analytics to really influence business decisions in the company around manager/employee interactions and making informed decisions around office locations. If you’re interested in learning more about how people analytics has been used at Spotify, then I urge you to watch the video with Katarina below, read the transcript in this blog, or to hear the rest of the interview on the podcast then you can listen or subscribe here.

David Green: In terms of an example, have you got an example of a project where you've used people data or insights from analytics, to help either solve a business challenge at Spotify or maybe help to improve employee experience, or maybe both?

Katarina Berg: Yeah. For instance, there're a couple of things that we see with the data, when it comes to leadership and also combined with when people feel less stress or more stress. And also where they find direction, and also if they live in a bit of uncertainty, which is a stressful place to be by itself.

So, for instance, what we saw, not quite early on but when we started to work with this in a different way was all the managers that have or contact one on ones, weekly or bi-weekly, all their employees that have managers or do that together with their manager, have less stress, have more clarity, feel much more satisfied with their work, and feel that they can impact more.

So, things like that, that when I say it, I feel a bit embarrassed because it sounds so easy, and it was in front of us all the time. But as soon as we say this to managers and employees, because we truly believe in self-leadership, people go like, "Maybe I should start to have those one on ones instead of having very time-consuming, giving formula-driven big meetings where everything is structured. We'll have them then do check-ins."

I think most of the managers, also at Spotify, use walks and talks. There're so few meetings where you do the check-in and you do iterations, or you do like mentoring or support, or just coaching, or pushing back, or challenging a couple of decisions, or ways of working. You don't have to sit down and you don't have to take notes. So, by having those, very few things come as surprises, and changes or iterations are not big things where you go, "I feel a bit insecure, what does this actually mean?"

It most likely comes from the employee themselves, right? So, that is one very simple example. A bigger one that actually has a lot to do with the business decisions and money is where to grow, right? So, the data gives us relationship with universities and high schools, and what attrition looks like in those pockets of the world, tenure, labour law, total comp cost, if there is something that is called total comp, which is fairly debated for good reasons too.

But also where we lose and where talent goes, and where we coach, and where they come from. So, when you put all that together, it gives us very good advice on where to grow and where to put our next office, no matter if it's more of content office or it's more of an R&D office, or if it's a mixed office.

Even competition has the same data, and I think this has been very good, both for board material but also for the lead team, but also for the managers that are heading up big chunks of departments where we sometimes find it to be tough to find talent in that pace, but also to those big numbers that we are facing all the time.


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 and podcast.