Driving Change Through Employee Insighting

Driving Change Through Employee Insighting

Organisations in transition are fighting daily battles with Change Management in the VUCA economy. Change Management is primarily concerned with analysing people dynamics of managing change through Project Management using tools and processes. With the rapid advent of technology and its applications, Human Behaviour, the unpredictable nuance of successful change, largely tends to undermine the success of most Change programmes. A lot of the resistance to Change has got to do with the way people experience Change, and, its implications to their daily existence. Applying Insighting can be an invaluable tool when it comes to driving the Change agenda.


There are many concrete ways HR data and People Analytics can support Change Management; engagement data can help identify likely resistance, the new generation of real-time employee sentiment tools can help assist in the implementation phase, network models can identify useful change agents/ambassadors, evaluation of effectiveness of training classes, predictive models for adoption usage, effective dashboards for usage of the new solution and many more.


The new era is all about “Designing for Experience.” It is important to remember that while one can Design for an Experience, one cannot Design the actual Experience in itself, as an Experience involves an interplay at an emotional level. HR Departments are battling two sets of challenges in their journey in enhancing the experience of stakeholders with an organisation. On the one hand, there is a drive towards dashboards and metrics and increasing quantification of what is essentially a deeply subjective experience, while, on the other, numerous studies have shown that there are direct linkages between establishing an enhanced experience and a business outcome such as customer satisfaction. Organisations today are deeply aware that employee experience impacts Customer experience, and, the focus is on working Inside out, from Employees to Customers. EY's Macpherson has said HR departments should think in terms of "employee lifetime value" similar to the way marketers think about customer lifetime value.


In Quotes “The new era is all about “Designing for Experience”. It is important to remember that while one can Design for an Experience, one cannot Design the actual Experience in itself, as an Experience involves an interplay at an emotional level.


HR processes by themselves only create limited measurable value, and, do not lend themselves to the experience. Organisations have largely been so wrapped up with the game of numbers that they have lost out on the essence of the subjective quality of insights. Customer Insight, which is now a fairly established function in large organisations, looks to examine, "a non-obvious understanding about your customers, which if acted upon, has the potential to change their behaviour for mutual benefit”. Customer Insight interacts between the customer and the brand, and, in many ways, has been instrumental in changing the way companies think about brands and Markets. Likewise, an Employee Insighting function in HR can supplement the organisation’s change Management charter and drive the outcomes of a successful “design for experience” in the larger organisational context.


Futuristic organisations have started building Employee Experience Engines that go beyond predictive analytics to look at meaningful personalised transformation, and, one such model is institutionalising the Employee Insighting function in the organisation. Broadly, the role of the “Employee Insight” function is to build a deeper understanding of the workforce in order to enable delivery of a personalised Employee Centric experience resulting in greater competitive advantage for the organisation.


In order to do that effectively, Employee Insighting would:


1. Validate assumptions or key questions about employee behaviour patterns

2. Assess impact on HR processes and actions to help us determine the appropriate mix of HR measures across the broad spectrum of R functions e.g. TA, R&R, L&D, OD, and Emp Engagement.

3. Facilitate change management measures that enable an enhanced employee experience, while directing long term workforce planning and strategic decisions in terms of workforce composition, the terms of engagement, the assessment of performance, growth and development.


What can Employee Insighting achieve?


There are some basic principles on which Insighting would operate:

1. Non-obvious: So it does not normally come from just one source of information and often does not come from just analysis or research; rather there is a need to converge evidence to glean insights.

2. Actionable: True insights need to be “actionable”; hypotheses which stay theoretical and cannot be tested in practice are not insights.

3. Powerful: Should be powerful enough that when they are acted upon employees can be persuaded to "change their behaviour".

4. Beneficial: The goal of such experience change must be "mutual benefit" in order to make it sustainable. Organisations need to work at retaining deep Trust in the Employee and enhancing the whole experience agenda with repeatable actions that are consistent, and constantly build feedback and process change in the loop.


Employee Insighting is the foreseeable future of the HR function, and as such, needs to build out and evolve across various stages of the growth pyramid. In its primitive form, it is essentially a diagnostic approach, which equips HR Business Partners with inputs to enhance process interventions or quality of dialogue between them and the line managers who implement the Change agenda. It is deeply embeeded in the organisational Culture, and, initial efforts might often meet with setbacks due to the Cultural blocks. As it evolves, Employee Insighting derives insights that form the basis of driving OD interventions in the organisation, and at a later stage, may actually lead the process transformation and change pyramid. Significantly, Employee Insighting can drive business outcomes from a futuristic standpoint. Employee Insight is a multi‑disciplinary approach that goes across a broad spectrum of functions to derive meaningful insights that adhere to the principles of Insighting and draws from various domains to drive this insight.


In Quotes “As it evolves, Employee Insighting derives insights that form the basis of driving OD interventions in the organisation, and at a later stage, may actually lead the process transformation and change pyramid. Significantly, Employee Insighting can drive business outcomes from a futuristic standpoint.


Behavioural Economics


Behavioural Economics (BE) uses psychological experimentation to develop theories about human decision making and has identified a range of biases in the manner in which people think and feel. It provides new perspectives into the way people think about perceptions of value and expressed preferences, and also adds a time dimension to the nature of changing preferences. Most of our choices are not the result of careful deliberation. We are influenced by readily available information in memory, automatically generated affect, and salient information in the environment. We also live in the moment, in that we tend to resist change, are poor predictors of future behaviour, and affected by physiological and emotional states.


Festinger in 1957, explored “rationalisation” as a concept and talked about the human susceptibility to feedback. It is our desire to maintain a positive view of who we are as a person. When the outcome of an action threatens this desire, we may change our behaviour. Behaviour change is usually a result of a change in our attitudes or beliefs. We are social animals with social preferences, such as those expressed in trust, reciprocity and fairness; we are susceptible to social norms and a need for self-consistency. Behavioural Economics has provided pathbreaking insights into analysing Behaviour, which when used in conjunction with Psychology, can give deeply meaningful insights into Human Behaviour, Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning, such as Sentiment Analysis, have provided us with means of isolating trends in evidence, both structured and unstructured and give us new insights into the way people think. When interspersed with sound statistics and change management principles, Employee Insight can provide deep revelations into transformational ideas on Change.


Transformation through Employee Insighting


    1. Validating assumptions or key questions about employee behavior patterns
    1. Assessing impact on HR processes & determining appropriate mix of HR measures across HR functions e.g. TA, R&R, L&D, OD and Emp Engagement.

Guiding strategies for long term workforce planning & decisions in terms of composition of the workforce, terms of engagement, assessment of performance, growth and development


Transformation through Employee Insighting is achieved using the many stages of People Analytics, as outlined by Michael Housman, Chief Analytics Officer, Cornerstone OnDemand: -


1. Ad hoc Q & A (surveys, FGDs, one on one, social network analysis, social media reviews)

2. Retrospective data analysis (performance data, employee engagement data, exit interviews, boarding experience)


Both these steps help us to deepen knowledge of employees, plus uncover and clarify opportunities. Research, secondary and primary, includes in-depth interviews, focus groups, surveys, system data and industry analyst sources.


1. Predictive analytics - Apply to Employee / candidate and other data sources to identify predictor variables and isolate those that impact most.


2. Experimental design - Choose an opportunity based on analytics and research, design one or more experiments, measure and document the results, feedback to refine future experiments. Repeat. Determine strategies to enable change, through re-designing processes, interventions and changes in policy and implementation


Employee Insighting is an ongoing journey to understand what drives employee experience and engagement and retention. At the heart of Insighting is a deeply compassionate and tacit acceptance of the fleeting nature of human emotions and the interrelationship between physical, mental and emotional dimensions that define Human experience. Embarking on an Insighting journey is courageous, exploratory and fascinating, and organisations that onboard will stand to gain from the rich dividends it yields.


Kalpana Bansal manages the HR Analytics domain and the Employee Insights programme in the RPG Group. She has 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. 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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