The Best HR and People Analytics Articles of July 2019

I’ve compiled this month’s selection of articles on the plane home from India emboldened by my experience at the People Matters TechHRIN conference over the last few days. The appetite for people analytics globally seems insatiable and the possibilities endless.

Over 3,000 people converged on Gurgaon for TechHRIN making it the largest HR and Work Tech conference in Asia and people analytics was right at the forefront of discussions amongst speakers, practitioners and vendors alike.

A huge thank you to Ester Martinez and the People Matters team for inviting me to speak and looking after me during my stay, and an even bigger thank you to all the TechHRIN delegates who attended my sessions, joined my workshop (on a Saturday!) and took the time to seek me out over the three days.

Attendees of my workshop at People Matters TechHRIN with their certificates!

Attendees of my workshop at People Matters TechHRIN with their certificates!

All of you – and England winning the Cricket World Cup (sorry, I couldn’t resist it) – helped inspire the choices for this month. On with the show…


JOE FREED - It’s Time to Move Beyond “Digital Exhaust”

My Article of the Month is a really thought-provoking article by Joe Freed, CEO and Co-Founder of Cultivate, which points towards a possible future direction for the already burgeoning practice of Organisational Network Analysis. As Joe highlights, the growth of ‘passive’ ONA is currently restricted primarily to metadata from applications such as email and calendar, which he categorises as ‘digital exhaust’. Whilst acknowledging the challenges around privacy and NLP, Joe advocates a shift towards also analysing content (‘digital relationships’), which he argues will better serve and empower employees as well as the business. The vision Joe paints is enticing, and although the vast majority of companies (and employees) probably aren’t quite ready for this yet, the approach Joe recommends of complete transparency and building value for the employee first makes his ideas eminently feasible.

Build the value for the employee first, and the value for the company will follow


REINHARD MESSENBÖCK, AARON SNYDER, GREG MEYDING & CAMILA NOLDIN - Engaging Employees in Change Through an Open-Source Approach

This BCG penned article outlines an open-source approach (see FIG 1) to engagement that utilises real-time digital dialogue, content-based analytics, live collaboration platforms, as well as a mix of personal and business communication to drive interaction and collaboration between leaders and employees during change and transformation. Mission Control – one of the Four Enablers of Open-Source Engagement outlined in the article – seems perfect for an expanded role for the people analytics team to track, guide, nudge and recommend actions to leaders.

When you give people who will execute decisions a say in shaping them, they’ll be far more likely to embrace and support those decisions

FIG 1  :  Open-Source Engagement activates a self-reinforcing engagement cycle (Source: BCG Analysis)

FIG 1: Open-Source Engagement activates a self-reinforcing engagement cycle (Source: BCG Analysis)

ANDREW MARRITT - A guide to using sentiment analysis on employee text 

Sentiment analysis is increasingly being used on employee text but how useful is it in practice? If it is to be used what do you need to think about? My go-to on this topic is Andrew Marritt, and here he walks through the different types, uses and challenges of using sentiment analysis.

Sentiment analysis is useful but in most use cases we see with workforce data not of great importance


JOHN BOUDREAU - Key Findings: The Gains from Work Automation

As John Boudreau highlights, HR has the opportunity to lead on work automation by providing the guidance, frameworks and values to drive discussions within their organisations. In his article, John presents the findings of research into how business leaders and HR professionals make their decisions about work automation as well as how better-performing organisations do things differently. The results are both interesting and illuminating as is John’s astute analysis of the key findings.

HR has a golden opportunity to be a more significant leader in defining the values, decision frameworks, and goals of work automation

FIG 2:    Percent of respondents who said they are taking the action to prepare for advanced work automation (Source: John Boudreau/i4CP)

FIG 2: Percent of respondents who said they are taking the action to prepare for advanced work automation (Source: John Boudreau/i4CP)

DAVE ULRICH - Establishing an Organization Guidance System

In an audacious, exciting and much needed initiative, Dave Ulrich outlines his new moonshot to establish an Organisational Guidance System (OGS) encompassing four key pathways: Talent, Organisation, Leadership and HR. If successful, an OGS could perhaps shape the next-generation HR function just as Dave’s business partner model did after he published his ideas in the 1990s.  Read the article and learn more in my podcast with Dave, which will be available on 27 August.

An Organisation Guidance System is a bold ambition. It combines and moves beyond scorecards that report what has happened, dashboards that offer current information, and predictive analytics that show what might happen into an integrated guidance system that enables more effective organisations

JOHN SUMSER - HR Tech: What Puts the Intelligence in Intelligent Software?

A typically pull-no-punches overview of the technologies being used in the HR Tech space from John Sumser. If you want a definition of Machine Learning, Chatbots and Natural Language Processing, this is the article for you.

A surface level understanding should be enough to evaluate a given solution as long as the fundamental question remains: “How does this create business value?”


DAVE WEISBECK - Why Relationships are The Next Great Advancement in People Analytics

As the shift to more agile organisational structures and cross-functional work accelerates, the need to better understand relationships in and between teams grows. Dave Weisbeckprovides a solid description of the reasons behind the rise of Organisational Network Analysis and the inherent possibilities it provides.

How do you measure the effectiveness of ad-hoc, cross-functional teams collaborating on a common goal - A starting point is Organisational Network Analysis

PHILIP ARKCOLL - Using ONA to Analyse how Managers Impact Employee Experience

With studies suggesting that 80% of employee experience can be attributed to managers, Philip Arkcoll explains how ONA can be used to provide fresh insights on the critical relationship between manager and employee.

FIG 3:    Example of a network analysis for detecting manager proximity. Comparing two extreme cases of highly detached and controlling managers (Source: Philip Arkcoll)

FIG 3: Example of a network analysis for detecting manager proximity. Comparing two extreme cases of highly detached and controlling managers (Source: Philip Arkcoll)


LEXY MARTIN - Why the majority of People Analytics initiatives fail without change management

As befits her status as one of the more astute analysts in our space, Lexy Martin once again hits the nail on the head by correctly identifying change management as the critical component in successfully implementing people analytics. The article summarises four of the nine leading practices, Lexy identifies in her new research paper on Leading Practices in People Analytics Change ManagementFIG 4 is taken from the paper and shows that organisations with advanced capability in people analytics are twice as likely to have a culture of change management.

Change management focuses on enabling organisational change to a data-driven mindset and fostering broad use of analytics to improve decision-making

FIG 4:    Degree of Change Management for People Analytics and Planning: Advanced vs. Emerging Organisations (Source: Visier, Lexy Martin)

FIG 4: Degree of Change Management for People Analytics and Planning: Advanced vs. Emerging Organisations (Source: Visier, Lexy Martin)

LITTAL SHEMAR HAIM & GAL MOZES - People Analytics Leader - Survive Your Onboarding!

As our research at Insight222 demonstrates and as Jonathan Ferrar writes here, the ability of the people analytics leader is one of the crucial factors in the success (or otherwise) of your people analytics function. But if you are a new people analytics leader trying to establish a new function, what should you focus on? In this revealing interview with Gal Mozes, who has recently taken on the role at Amdocs, Littal Shemar Haim draws out some of the key challenges, priorities and targets Gal will be focusing on in her first year in the role.

HR leaders should be able to review data, hold a conversation around data points and analytics and most importantly, find the relevant business questions

ALEXIS FINK & DAVID LUDLOW - How to Implement People Analytics in The Workplace

The second part (see also Part 1) of a series where David Ludlow interviews Alexis Fink, who leads people analytics at Facebook, about implementing people analytics. As ever, Alexis provides some salient advice on overcoming challenges such as disconnected data, which should help those seeking to create and grow a people analytics function.

You can do brilliant research, and have compelling, intuitive visualisations based on supremely accurate data, but without an organisational culture that is willing to bet on data over instinct, you are not likely to see much impact


SOPHIA LEE - Diversity in the workplace – benefits and challenges | EDWARD H. CHANG, KATHERINE L MILKMAN, LAURA J ZARROW, KASANDRA BRABAW, DENA M GROMET, REB REBELE, CADE MASSEY, ANGELA L DUCKWORTH, ADAM GRANT – Does Diversity Training Work the Way It’s Supposed To? | STACIA GARR & DAVID GREEN - How Can You Use Technology to Support a Culture of Inclusion and Diversity? | GREG NEWMAN - How organisational network analytics is transforming diversity and inclusion through data | DANIELLE GUZMAN - Culture is Key to Achieving an Unbiased, Gender-Equal Future of Work: A 5-Step Framework for Success

With advances in technology and the growth of people analytics, HR increasingly has the tools it needs to promote and embed diversity and inclusion initiatives, and perhaps most critically prove that it can be a significant driver of business performance. In the first article, Sophia Lee does a good job of setting out the benefits and key challenges associated with diversity. Then, newly published research from Wharton documents the findings of an experiment to measure the impact of diversity training, which had some surprising outcomes. Next, Stacia Garr reveals some landmark findings along with case studies from her recent research on the surge of technology products to support D&I. Greg Newman’s article focuses on one of these technologies – ONA – and provides several examples of how this is helping drive D&I initiatives in companies (see one example in FIG 5). Finally, Danielle Guzman outlines a five-step framework towards underpinning a successful culture.

FIG 5:    Comparing the networks of promoted and not promoted female employees at the same level in an organisation (Source: Greg Newman)

FIG 5: Comparing the networks of promoted and not promoted female employees at the same level in an organisation (Source: Greg Newman)


STACIA GARR & AL ADAMSEN -The PAFOW Podcast: People Analytics Technology Research | BECKY CANTIERI & LARS SCHMIDT – Rethinking Performance Management | JORDAN PETTMAN & DAVID GREEN – The People Analytics Journey at Nestlé

A trio of podcasts for your aural pleasure this month. Firstly, Stacia Garr reveals to Al Adamsen some early findings of the research she is undertaking on the people analytics technology market. This research will be invaluable in helping companies sift through the forest of vendors to create a healthy ecosystem of technologies that's right for them. Secondly, in the latest episode of Lars Schmidt’s superb 21st Century HR Podcast, he speaks with Becky Cantieri, Chief People Officer at Survey Monkey, on their shift to agile performance management and other emerging people programs. Finally, Jordan Pettman, Global Head of People Analytics at Nestlé, walks through their people analytics journey and provides a compelling case study of how Nestlé used people analytics to measure gender pay gap and equity.


KELLY MONAHAN – The Future of Management: Using Behavioural Science to Unlock Enduring Human Capabilities in your Managers

One of the highlights of the Wharton People Analytics Conference earlier this year was the inaugural White Paper Competition, featuring practitioners presenting real case studies of people analytics projects they had undertaken within their firms. The winner in a very strong field was Kelly Monahan of Accenture Research. See why in this video where Kelly walks through how behavioural science was used to analyse the attributes of effective technical managers and highlighted the importance of coaching.


MERCER – Connectivity in the Human Age: Global Talent Trends 2019

Although it was released a couple of months ago, I only finally managed to read Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2019 report on the flight to India for TechHRIN. It was worth the wait, because it’s a terrific report by Kate Bravery and the team. It highlights four key trends (see FIG 6), and has a wealth of interesting findings, case studies and analysis including a global view of what makes employees thrive at work. A recommended read for sure.

FIG 6:    Four key talent trends for 2019 (Source: Mercer)

FIG 6: Four key talent trends for 2019 (Source: Mercer)


Analytics has moved from the periphery towards the centre of HR

An interview I did with Shweta Modgil for People Matters covering some of the latest trends in the people analytics space including the growth of the field, the questions HR leaders should be asking themselves to ensure they’re on the right path and business challenges typically solved (see FIG 7).

FIG 7:    Typical uses of People Analytics in organisations (Source: David Green)

FIG 7: Typical uses of People Analytics in organisations (Source: David Green)

Six Factors for the Adoption of People Analytics

This article presents six factors influencing the adoption of people analytics, as well as highlighting the short survey we are undertaking into this topic at Insight222. The aim of the study is to provide guidance for HR leaders on how to create a data-driven culture and build adoption of analytics amongst HR professionals. The first results of the survey should be available in September.

Digital HR Leaders podcast and video series

I continue to be blown away by the positive response to the first ten episodes of the Digital HR Leaders podcast and video series. Tune in to the next episode with Dave Ulrich on 27th August and watch the accompanying video highlights on the myHRfuture YouTube channel.


My next gig is certainly one to savour as my co-conspirator Al Adamsen and I take the PAFOW roadshow to Philadelphia on 5-6 September. Al has once again compiled a formidable program and group of speakers, which includes luminaries such as Rob Cross, Stacia Garr, Ian O’Keefe, Geetanjali Gamel, Tomas Chamorro-Premusic, Dafna Aaronson, Amit Mohindra, Stela Lupushor, Brad Hubbard, Nicholas Garbis and Elizabeth Jones. If you want to join me, click here (or on the image below) and use DG200 to get a $200 discount on tickets. See you there.


As I’m just about to embark on a summer holiday with the family and as such am feeling suitably jolly, it seems apt to leave you this month with an uplifting summer tune from yesteryear…


Invest in your career and learn the HR skills of the future. The myHRfuture Academy, of which I am part, provides you with an on-demand platform where you can get access to short, bitesized learning content to help you build knowledge in the skills that you need to prepare for the future of HR. Join here to get access to exclusive content on People Analytics, Digital HR & HR Technology, Design Thinking, Workforce Planning, Consulting & Influencing and Stakeholder Management.



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.


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. 

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