During our Employee Empowerment Summit in late 2020, Prasad Setty, VP of People Operations at Alphabet and Google made an interesting statement about People Analytics, calling it “Analytics for the people, not of the people.” What did he mean?

The data that People Analytics teams collect shouldn’t just be used to inform decisions made at the leadership level – they can also help employees at all levels become more engaged and productive. In fact, recent data from RedThread Research shows that 67% of People Analytics technology vendors focus on employee empowerment as a primary talent area and 30% allow individuals to participate in the action-planning process. We believe that using data to empower your employees is beneficial for a variety of reasons, some of which are expanded on below.

How can People Analytics data benefit your wider employee base? Here are five areas to consider:

Help Reduce Employee Burnout
People Analytics data can help reduce burnout by identifying factors that contribute to burnout (like sending or receiving too many messages after hours) and giving that data to employees to help them set boundaries or change their behaviors before burnout escalates. People Analytics data can also help educate managers about the causes and effects of burnout. Since managers have a significant effect on reducing or encouraging burnout among their teams according to Gallup, providing them with more support can be helpful.

Reveal Groups That Need Assistance
At our 2020 Employee Empowerment Summit, Uber’s Head of People Analytics RJ Milnor explained that after Uber transitioned its employees to working from home, they found that employees with young children scored significantly worse than average on employee well-being metrics. In response, they implemented some flexibility options to help that particular group manage work-life balance more effectively. While they expected employees with children to struggle as schools were shut down, they weren’t expecting the effects to be so severe, or to hit employees with young children so hard. This data led to better accommodations for the group that needed it most – exactly the sort of thing People Analytics should be doing.

Help Managers Respect Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is a major issue that Covid-19 has only exacerbated. In his presentation at our Employee Empowerment Summit, Prasad Setty shared that Google strongly encouraged employees to log off at the end of each day and fully disconnect from work. People analytics data can measure how often managers and teams send and receive after hours messages and encourage them to better respect work-life balance. Perhaps a manager doesn’t realize how their late-night emails are affecting their team, or that employees need an extra reminder to close their laptops at 5:30 each day.

(Cultivate developed TeamDynamics to address this and similar issues. Users can input their preferences about meeting times, meeting lengths, focus time, etc, and managers can use this data to facilitate their team members’ best work. People Analytics data can also inform teams about their collective habits, and they can use tools like TeamDynamics to improve them.)

Help Create Focus Time
Another finding from Uber’s People Analytics team was that employee focus time (uninterrupted blocks of time without meetings or interruptions where employees could work) had a very strong relationship with productivity. But during the first few months of Covid-19, focus time decreased by 30% and meeting time increased by 20% across Uber. Not good for productivity! In response, they implemented some plugin apps that helped employees rearrange their calendars to create focus time. People Analytics data can point out patterns that employees may not be able to see and allow teams to implement solutions.

Finding New Ways to Help Employees
People Analytics data can look at digital behaviors (like after-hours messages, number of 1:1 meetings, amount of information shared in chat messages, etc.) to measure how business units are different from one another. Then they can correlate that with KPIs or data from employee surveys to see how those behaviors might be affecting that unit’s productivity. For example, maybe all of the business units across an organization with more 1:1 meetings than average also have higher employee satisfaction. This data could be used to design new programs to increase 1:1s in other business units and help improve satisfaction across all business units.

The data that People Analytics gathers can have tremendous value for employees as well as the organization as a whole, if deployed effectively. When employees are more empowered, happy and effective, everyone benefits.

Instead of keeping the data locked up with management, you can create a wide-reaching impact by sharing back insights with the individuals themselves. I encourage anyone reading this to evaluate if you and your organization are using People Analytics data to its greatest potential, and who else at your organization might benefit from having access to it.

Rachel Habbert, PhD
Rachel Habbert, PhD

Rachel is the Senior People Scientist at Cultivate. As a psychologist, she’s always been interested in people: how we think, grow, evolve, and interact. She is excited to help Cultivate users interpret their behaviors through a scientific, research-based lens.