Leveraging Employee Experience

Leveraging Employee Experience

Strategic HR deliverables focus around creating Human Capital value and creating HR systems and processes that deliver and unlock that value. For ages, organizations have focussed themselves on delivering value to the HR framework through additional processes, rigorous compliance, and metrics. This has gotten frustrating for the line managers who are questioning whether complicated processes actually enhance efficiency or add real value.


The article is an insight into strategic HR processes and their organizational impact. Drawing from multiple methodologies and using modern data science techniques such as sentiment polarity, contextualized in a classical OD Weisbord framework, it highlights the challenges faced by organizations in strategic HR planning and process efficiencies. A diagnostic is a pathbreaking approach combining text analytics (sentiment polarity) with a traditional OD interventionist approach to provide a more evidence-based approach to intuitive Change Management processes.


HR is experiencing a paradigm shift from being a “people science” to being “data science about people”. It is possible to reshape employees’ attitudes and outcomes by suitably modifying the employee experience. Integrating HR analytics and Insighting into the broader strategic human resource management (HRM) function assists in the accurate diagnosis of employee experience.


People discuss and talk about their experiences, including their jobs. In this article, we see an estimate of the factors that affect the effectiveness of Strategic HR processes factors in an OD Weisbord diagnostics of sentence-level sentiment analysis that are implicit in employee feedback on these processes. These representations are given as input to a state-of-the-art supervised regression algorithm, which finally maps text/sentiment to factors isolated from the classical Weisbord framework of OD.


Problem Statement


The client organization hereinafter referred to as ABC, is a large diversified group that has business interests in different sectors. In the last few years, it has driven a strategic HR framework that emphasizes multiple processes to unlock value in Talent Management, Career and Succession Planning, and Performance Management. ABC has been following a very tight calendar on HR deliverables and has a large HR engine to deliver the same, both at the group level and the company level.


Despite the thrust and emphasis, the organization has been facing constant challenges in terms of delays in the implementation of processes, and a constant push/pull with line managers with regard to ensuring process compliance. The HR function is constantly spending productive time and energy in pushing deadlines and making sure that the metrics are met. At a corporate level, the organization decided to do a deep dive into the root cause of why Line Managers delay processes. The problem statement could be framed as follows: Why do Line Managers delay people processes?


Scope: The scope of the diagnostics were all the line managers across the group’s companies, comprising a total of about 900 senior level line managers.


Objectives: The objectives of the diagnostics were as follows:


Identify the root cause(s) of constant delays


1. Examine the efficacy of processes in the backdrop of user experience


2. Isolate the most relevant factors to enhance process delivery


3. Devise an action plan for Change


4. Steer stakeholders through Change Management agenda


Methodology: The current diagnostics were carried out using qualitative research of employee experience feedback across six of the group companies.


Hypotheses Framing: Multiple hypotheses were framed to perform initial testing using the Training dataset.


Sampling: The stratified sample of line managers was divided into two sets as per normal practice in any data science Analytics model. The sample for this study was constituted as follows:


The size of the sample in individual companies was proportional to the number of managers in each company.


Journey Mapping: Employee journey mapping is a discipline that can help organizations assess and make sure that employees have positive experiences all through the employee lifecycle. In order to elicit the experience journey, line managers were made to undergo a 30-minute one-on-one interview, in which they were asked to draw from recollection. No leading questions or pointers were thrown at them. Responses were captured verbatim.


Clustering: The verbatims of the employees were cleaned up to eliminate specific labels, gender, or any pointers to their business unit, location, or other demographics to make it neutral. These verbatims were then broken down into sentences, which were clustered in a spreadsheet along the six dimensions of the Weisbord Framework as shown below.


Analysis: Analysis of the clustered Responses was carried out using Machine Learning in R, wherein the following techniques were used:


1. Topic Modelling

2. Term Frequency and word pair correlations


3. Sentiment Polarity


4. Word Clouds


Humans tend to possess unconscious biases and are unable to accurately evaluate the sentiment of a piece of text. The subjectivity is the result of personal experiences, thoughts, and beliefs. For the purpose of this study, an aspect-based sentence level Sentiment Analysis was utilized. In order to provide the first level classification of the verbatims (opinions), a Weisbord framework was been deployed to classify the text.




Elimination of Hypotheses: Clustering of sentences in the Weisbord Framework and a detailed sentiment polarity revealed that there are no challenges in structure, leadership, and relationships. Negative polarities were elicited in the areas of purpose, rewards, and helpful mechanisms.


As can be seen above, the broad areas of negative experiences of processes were in the areas of purpose, rewards and helpful mechanisms. The overall Sentiment Polarity about HR Processes is Negative​.


1. High linkages between rewards, department, performance, and appraisal​ 


2. Line Managers not perceiving Purpose​


3. Processes are “not clear” ​


4. Rewards not differentiated​


5. Too much on quantity, less focus on quality​


6. Processes ineffective as no outcomes perceived​ 


Sentiment about Purpose is Negative


1. 3600 feedback is perceived to be non-value added and lengthy​


2. Appraisals are not seen as leading to outcomes​


3. Line Managers do not perceive interlinkages between different HR processes​


4. They do not perceive differentiation of rewards​  


5. Appraisal seen as “just an exercise” ​


In order to obtain more granularity of helpful mechanisms as a whole, they were further classified as HRBP, technology, and processes. Negative sentiments were elicited in all three areas.


The most common theme that emerged from the paired words (bigram) analysis is a lack of clarity. Managers seem to view filling in employee performance reviews as a wasteful and purposeless exercise, as there is no outcome or consequence (attitude), so managers procrastinate the process of completion (behavior), resulting in poor reviews in terms of quality of feedback (results).




1. Employee Experience is not about having user experience in HR Technology. Introducing new systems with a changed interface will not change the business outcome of poor quality and lack of adherence to core HR processes.


2. Emotional responses to employee experiences cluster in distinct groups: ‘seeing’, ‘feeling’, and ‘doing’. An effective Strategic HRM framework delivers on all three sentiment clusters, and failure in any one cripples the overall employee sentiment.


3. Changing the experience by working a larger cultural change will involve things like creating purpose and reinforcing a sound reward system with senior management process sponsorship, can influence the attitudes, change the behaviors and drive the desired outcomes towards better acceptance of strategic HR initiatives.


4. A large, complex company might have many different personas, from frontline personnel to corporate executives to even plant workers and more, each with varying motivations and needs. Plotting touch points to identify every interaction the organization has with each employee persona creates personalization and impacts strategic HR interventions in terms of the effectiveness of delivery.




Kalpana Bansal is Head - Competency Assessment and Development, Reliance Industries Ltd. She comes with an experience of more than 20 years and has worked in organisations such as Tata Unisys, Star TV, IMRB, Mudra Communication and Watson Wyatt (I) Pvt. Ltd and the RPG Group. Kalpana has an MBA and has completed her Executive Masters in Consulting & Coaching for Change from Said Business School, Oxford University.


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