Ben Waber of Humanyze explores how to leverage workplace analytics to navigate through change management.
It’s no secret that an influx of changes to the way people work and think about the workplace have occurred over the last 18 months since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether employees are returning to the office full time, implementing a hybrid schedule, or staying remote, business leaders must determine the best ways to support their workforce both now and in the post-pandemic landscape.
They key to making the right calls when it comes to these critical workplace decisions? Data.
Although all of this data typically lives in different siloed systems, recent advancements in AI and workplace analytics allow companies to integrate and harness their data in more impactful ways than ever before.
While companies often survey their employees to better understand workforce sentiments, subjective data like survey responses becomes even more valuable when measured against objective insights, such as collaboration, meeting, and performance data. Combining the subjective with the objective allows leadership to factor in both how employees feel and how work actually gets done. By analyzing these insights in a holistic way, employers gain a factual understanding of how their organization works and make decisions based on what helps employees succeed.
As companies face continued uncertainty and an evolving work landscape, a data-driven and human-centric approach to workplace strategy that balances business objectives with employee needs will be essential for driving positive long and short-term results.
Discovering the Most Effective Work Model
No workplace model is one-size fits all. Through a holistic and ethical use of workplace data companies can make the right workplace decisions for their unique organization based on what drives performance and a positive employee experience. Embracing workplace analytics helps reveal the direct correlation between specific workplace initiatives, decisions, or changes and how they impact different areas of the company.
As an example, workplace analytics can provide a wealth of insights for HR, real-estate, and management when determining the viability of a hybrid work model for their organization. By measuring how teams collaborate and work together (whether via Slack, Zoom, e-mail, or in-person meetings), combined with things like performance KPI’s and survey data, companies can coordinate and tailor a hybrid approach based on which teams rely on each other most, which groups do their best work in-person, and which can work remotely without issue.
Remaining Adaptable and Iterative
Before the pandemic, many companies predicted that big organizational changes, like transitioning fully to remote work, would require at least a six-month change management exercise. During the pandemic people only got two weeks, proving employers must trust their people to make adjustments and succeed in times of change. The way companies work is always evolving, and workplace strategies should also remain adaptable and subject to ongoing validation and optimization. Using objective workplace data points to continuously validate the impacts of decisions is just as important as using it to inform the decisions themselves.
In another example, suppose a company implemented a scheduled return to the office where certain groups go into the office on specific days. Let’s say data shows that the highest-performing Sales teams regularly collaborate with the Product team, but both teams are scheduled to be in the office on different days without overlap. With this information in-hand, planners and managers have hard data supporting adjusting schedules for these teams to foster collaboration by having them in the office on similar days.
In order to drive performance and retain top talent, organizations must redefine how and from where they work in a way that’s data-driven and balances business objectives with employee needs. At the end of the day, it’s not about completely changing how work is done and how employees are managed, but improving overall collaboration.
Trust Your Employees, Follow the Data, & Lead with Transparency
While the pandemic has proven how resilient and adaptable people can be in the face of major and unexpected changes, companies are still under more pressure than ever before to get these decisions right. Employee attrition rates are sharply rising, 1 in 4 employees are reportedly looking for a new job, and a recent Future of Work survey revealed over 60% of employees lack full confidence in their company’s post-pandemic plans.
While it’s important to leverage corporate data holistically and continuously to drive better decision-making, using it ethically and leading with transparency around how decisions are made is just as vital. In addition to employee surveys helping to give the workforce a voice in decisions, it’s crucial to establish an understanding with employees about how corporate data is used and how their information is protected. This type of data-driven, people-centric approach helps inspire the confidence, trust, and morale needed for an organization to thrive in times of change and uncertainty.
In today’s continuously evolving work landscape, this strategic, holistic use of corporate data provides an invaluable blueprint for informing key workplace strategy decisions. As more leaders recognize the benefits of workplace analytics, it will become a must-have for organizations looking to make decisions that will drive long-term success for employees and the business.