Power of People, The: Learn How Successful Organizations Use Workforce Analytics To Improve Business Performance

Nigel Guenole / Jonathan Ferrar / Sheri Feinzig  
Total pages
May 2017
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Power of People, The: Learn How Successful Organizations Use Workforce Analytics To Improve Business Performance
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Business leaders today are seeking meaningful patterns in their people data that will help them gain a competitive edge. The answer is in the growing discipline of workforce analytics.

Much attention has already been paid to the technical requirements for implementing workforce analytics, now, there's a book that covers the organisational development and change management issues that will make or break your success.

Drawing on insights from dozens of experts in workforce analytics as well as their own cutting edge experience within IBM, the authors walk step-by-step through setting up and then embedding workforce analytics capabilities. 

With candid case studies and clear advice from those who have already faced and overcome the challenges associated with workforce analytics, you'll learn how to:

  • Begin with a vision, not data analysis
  • Pick your projects wisely, so you can 'earn your keep' with visible, valuable successes 
  • Build a team with the right skills to deliver the insights your organisation needs
  • Identify the right stakeholders and sponsors to ensure success 
  • Choose the best technology for your analytics needs
  • Handle some of the sensitivities around using employee data in analytics projects 
  • Run a successful workforce analytics function for the long term 
  • Use storytelling techniques to ensure you can influence organisational decisions or initiatives with the results of  your workforce analytics projects

Analytics are rapidly becoming pervasive in functions ranging from Finance to Marketing. Now, discover how HR can gain just as much value, by informing every key decision with the best possible insight.

Table of Contents

Foreword by John Boudreau     xv
About the Authors     xix
Interviewees     xxi
Vignettes     xxv
Preface     xxvii
Chapter 1  Why Workforce Analytics?     3
Adoption of Analytics     4
HR’s Contribution to Business Value     4
The Changing Nature of HR     7
The Future of Work     11
Summary     13
Chapter 2  What’s in a Name?     15
Focus of the Function     16
Activities of the Function     17
A Name Fit for the Future     18
Summary     18
Chapter 3  The Workforce Analytics Leader     19
Reporting to the Chief Human Resources Officer     20
Responsibilities of the Workforce Analytics Leader     20
Business Acumen     22
Leadership Attributes     23
Summary     26
Chapter 4  Purposeful Analytics     27
A Model for Purposeful Analytics     28
Project Sponsors     38
Why Do Analytics Projects Fail?     40
Summary     42
Chapter 5  Basics of Data Analysis     43
Research Design     44
Objectives of Analysis     47
Unstructured Data     52
Traditional Statistics versus Machine Learning     53
Social Consequences of Algorithms     54
More on Design and Analysis     56
Summary     56
Chapter 6  Case Studies     57
Eight-Step Methodology     58
Case Study: Improving Careers Through Retention Analytics at Nielsen     59
Case Study: From Employee Engagement to Profitability at ISS Group     65
Case Study: Growing Sales Using Workforce Analytics at Rentokil Initial     71
Case Study: Increasing Value to the Taxpayer at the Metropolitan Police     76
Case Study: Predictive Analytics Improves Employee Well-Being at Westpac     80
Summary     83

Chapter 7  Set Your Direction 87

You Have the Job! Now What?     88
Listening to Prospective Project Sponsors     90
The Seven Forces of Demand     91
Agreeing on the Scope of Analytics     95
Developing a Vision and Mission Statement     95
Summary     97
Chapter 8  Engage with Stakeholders     99
Who Are Stakeholders?     100
Stakeholders Served     101
Stakeholders Depended Upon     106
Stakeholders Impacted     113
Working Effectively with Stakeholders     118
Summary     121
Chapter 9  Get a Quick Win     123
Identifying Potential Projects     125
Complexity-Impact Matrix     125
Assessing Complexity and Impact     129
Summary     133

Chapter 10  Know Your Data     137

A Pragmatic View of Data     138
Solving Data Quality Challenges     138
Data Types and Sources     147
Data Governance     152
Remember the Basics     152
Summary     155
Chapter 11  Know Your Technology     157
Starting with Vision and Mission     158
Components of Workforce Analytics Technology     159
On-Premise Versus Cloud     164
Technology Vendor Relationships     165
Summary     167
Chapter 12  Build the Analytics Team     169
Six Skills for Success     170
Configuring Team Roles     181
Remember the Fundamentals!     184
Summary     185
Chapter 13  Partner for Skills     187
Why Consider Partners?     188
Options for Building the Team     188
Choosing Among the Options     197
Summary     200
Chapter 14  Establish an Operating Model     203
Defining Your Operating Model     204
Strategy     205
Governance     205
Implementation     212
Accountability     221
Summary     224

Chapter 15  Enable Analytical Thinking     227

Perspectives of Analytics in HR     228
The Translator Role     234
The Importance of Leadership     236
Summary     237
Chapter 16  Overcome Resistance     239
Resistance to Workforce Analytics     240
Stakeholder Skepticism     240
Financial Frugality     245
HR Hesitancy     246
Summary     252
Chapter 17  Communicate with Storytelling and Visualization     253
What Is Storytelling?     254
Effective Visualization     263
Knowing Your Audience     269
Keeping It Simple     273
Summary     275
Chapter 18  The Road Ahead     277
Analytics Provides New Opportunities for HR     278
Emerging Data Sources     278
Considering New Data Sources     280
Evolving Technology     282
The Workforce Analytics Function     283
Summary     286
Glossary     287
References     295
Index     301


Nigel Guenole is an executive consultant with IBM, where he consults with many of the world’s most successful organizations about improving organizational performance with psychological science. He is also Director of Research at the Institute of Management at Goldsmiths, University of London. Nigel’s consulting, research, and teaching focus on topics in industrial-organizational psychology and statistical modeling. He is an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS), a member of the Academy of Management (AOM), and a member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). His work on topics related to workforce analytics has been featured in the media and popular press, as well as in numerous scientific journals, including Frontiers in Quantitative Psychology & Measurement and Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice.

Jonathan Ferrar is a respected consultant, speaker, and influencer in HR strategy, workforce analytics, and the future of work. He advises clients on how to establish human resources strategies that will improve business performance and make HR more relevant. He was listed as one of the global Top 50 HR Analytics Influencers on LinkedIn in 2014 and as one of the 15 HR and People Analytics Experts to Follow for 2017 by Jibe. Before he started his own consultancy business, Jonathan worked for more than 25 years in corporate business in IBM, Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), and Lloyds Bank, for many of those years in senior executive management roles in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Jonathan has worked with C-suite clients and business leaders across the globe on human resources management and workforce analytics. He holds a bachelor of arts degree and a master of arts degree from the University of Cambridge and a postgraduate diploma in human resources management from Kingston Business School. He is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (Chartered FCIPD).

Sheri Feinzig is a director at IBM, where she leads a global team of consultants, content development experts, and the Smarter Workforce Institute. Sheri has more than 20 years of experience in human resources research, organizational change management, and business transformation. She has applied her analytical and methodological expertise to numerous research-based projects on topics such as employee retention, employee engagement, performance feedback, social network analysis, and organizational culture. Sheri received her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York. She has presented on numerous occasions at national conferences and has coauthored a number of publications and white papers. She has served as an adjunct professor in the psychology departments of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois, where she taught doctoral, masters, and undergraduate courses on performance appraisal, tests, and measures. Sheri is a member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).

Reader Review(s)

The Power of People provides an exceptional primer for doing workforce analytics. It includes wonderful insights from thought leaders, and specific and usable tools for performing analytics.”
—Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and Partner of The RBL Group

“Data analytics is a crucial and fast evolving organisational capability. This intriguing and fascinating book demonstrates not only the power of people analytics, but also creates a clear blueprint for building action-taking capability. A must read for any manager determined to add this valuable skill to their portfolio.”
—Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice, London Business School

“Trusting your gut on people issues turns out to be a bad idea. Analytics on your workforce is the most rapidly growing field of analytics. The Power of People is an excellent guide to this important and burgeoning topic.”
—Thomas H. Davenport, Distinguished Professor, Babson College, and Research Fellow, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy

“I believe you will find, like I did, that the frameworks and insights in The Power of People offer valuable steps toward realizing the potential of your workforce to create sustainable strategic success.”
—Dr. John Boudreau, Professor, Marshall School of Business; and Research Director, Center for Effective Organizations, University of Southern California

“This is quite an exceptional book. Extremely well-researched, it constitutes essential reading for those involved in the burgeoning field of Big Data, giving first-rate advice on good practices for all those involved in Workforce Analytics.”
—Professor Peter Saville, Chairman 10X Psychology and Founder SHL and Saville Consulting

“To build an extraordinary workplace, you need to harness the power of analytics. The Power of People provides a comprehensive look at latest research, offering best practices for leveraging the wealth of data now within our reach. If you want to master HR, you need to read this book.”
—Ron Friedman, Author of “The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace”

“Today’s business executives are applying pressure to all aspects of their business (including HR and workforce areas) to use analytics to improve their bottom line. Despite this pressure there remain few resources for those looking to begin. The Power of People is an excellent primer providing definition and guidance for identifying, framing, and successfully deploying analytics solutions to solve workforce challenges.”
—Greta Roberts, CEO Talent Analytics, Corp.

“We are barreling along toward the collision between Big Data, Analytics, and the successful acquisition, development, and retention of people in our organizations. The Power of People gives data-led comfort and practical guidance to business leaders that shows we not only can survive the collision, we can harness its potential and emerge with a stronger workforce that is motivated for business and personal success.”
—China Gorman, Board Chair, Universum Americas

“Finally! An authoritative, thoroughly researched, clearly written book to help HR professionals be more data-driven. This volume discusses everything you always wanted to know about workforce analytics but were afraid to ask, with answers from top practitioners in the field.”
—Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Professor of Business Psychology (UCL and Columbia University), CEO of Hogan Assessments, and author of The Talent Delusion

“Today Workforce Analytics is an emerging discipline which, in a few years’ time, will become mainstream. The Power of People is exceptionally practical and inspiring— essential reading for those executives willing to take on the challenge of transforming their organisations. By leveraging the authors’ as well as other leaders’ extensive experience, this book is a true compendium for those wishing to navigate their transformation.”
—Manish Goel, CEO TrustSphere

The Power of People is a great book for those who want to build, refine, or fundamentally improve their HR Analytics offering. The authors have clearly undertaken some extensive research and are drawing on the experience of a wide range of people analytics experts. As a result, their book is full of great advice and can be considered a really good guide for those wanting to realise the full potential of workforce analytics in their organisation.”
—Dr. Martin Edwards, Kings College London Business School

“Listening to what employees tell us and acting on it distinguishes ‘average HR’ from ‘HR excellence.’ New analytical capabilities mean we can discern what people are telling us by their actions rather than what they say they would do. The Power of People is an excellent book describing how to harness organizational capabilities using workforce analytics to predict what workers are most likely to do in the future and therefore how to impact business outcomes.”
—Alan Wild, Vice President Human Resources; Employee Relations and Engagement, IBM