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How can people analytics assist organisations through change? Businesses are facing unprecedented times during this global turmoil leading to a host of economic, global and political issues that are challenging business operations and strategies

By Nadeem Khan

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Businesses are facing unprecedented times during this global turmoil leading to a host of economic, global and political issues that are challenging business operations and strategies.

Deloitte's 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey highlighted that 84 percent of respondents felt the need to rethink their workforce experience to improve productivity, and that to become more agile, 80 percent believe the need to develop their leaders differently. Although these issues may seem timeless, yet today they are reemerging against a whole new workplace context; focusing organisations to move beyond their mission statements and reinventing themselves around the human focus and this I believe is possible through the assistance and application of people analytics.

  • Embracing Agile Work and Rethinking Organisation Design:

With people being at the centre of organisational success and their capability significantly effecting the ability of an organisation to compete. Especially at this point in time, where people need to work from home, it has become apparent that we have shifted to an agile way of working and now need to rethink our organisational design. For over two decades, agile methods have revolutionised IT and greatly increased success rates in technology quality, application and speed, and also boosted the motivation and productivity of IT teams. Today, businesses will need to go agile. So how exactly does agile really work? For organisations to implement this concept, they will have to look at the organisational design and the capability of their workforce as a strategic imperative towards delivering the business strategy.

The unpredictability of the aftermath of this pandemic warrants the workforce to become responsive. Therefore, Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) will need to be adaptable by supporting everyday operational planning and being able to carry out rapid scenario planning in key situations. Even with the best laid plans, things can change, such as failed assumptions, skill misalignment, incorrect resource forecasting, significant productivity changes and even organisational structure change. Agile organisations will be collecting all such people data and analytical insights to counter change using SWP that reinforces the evolving business goals and strategies.

  • Managing Remote Work Culture through ONA:

With the current global situation, it has become apparent that the traditional hierarchies and protocols will do more harm than good for organisations, as they hinder communication and decision making. There is now a need for organisations to understand that the paradigm shift required to become agile is far more than understanding agility. Today technology allows us to be able to implement this concept but HR will need to break the traditional hierarchies and move to a robust network system, whether that be teams, communities or clusters of knowledge experts. This will enable HR to position itself from a service function to a power function for their organisation as they will be the forerunners of merging digital technologies with organizational networks.

Organisational Network Analysis (ONA) provides a structured way to visualise how communications, information and decisions flow through an organisation and is certainly a priority for people analytics teams to consider. It will enable HR to look beyond the organisation structures and help understand how the business can operate in such turbulent times. ONA can be used to not only understand the challenges associated with effective collaboration, but also enable the management of the remote workforce to ensure business sustainability and growth. ONA and the use of data based insights relating to communication flow can help to influence the way organisations are designed for success. It is of the utmost importance to understand the implication of ONA as not only a tool to gather data but also to create and nurture work culture through highlighting employee networks and high involvement strategies for within this new remote settings.

A chaotic "new normal':

The context for change is here with the continuing global disruption due to the CIVID-19. This has caused a major systems level disruption that has ultimately lead us towards a transformation and evolution in organisational work patterns and design. We are now truly in a VUCAR (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous and Responsive) world, it pointless to look at all these challenges unless organisations make tangible and quick responses to these disruptions at play, hence, we added the R in VUCA. Those organisations that can respond the quickest and most effective way will reap competitive advantage from their workforce. This is a chaotic "new normal' that promises exciting challenges for the HR function, but only if businesses can embrace and utilise the power of people data and operate in an agile and strategic way. In our book, Introduction to People Analytics - A Practical Guide to Data Driven HR, we share best practices, provide expert guidance and discuss how using people analytics can assist organisations through this change.

Nadeem Khan

Researcher and industry writer for People Management magazine, UK

Nadeem Khan is a futurist, business author, keynote speaker, leadership coach and consultant in organisational strategy, digital transformation and the future of work. Over the past decade, he has advised and worked with many of the world’s best known organisations including Coca-Cola, Goeth Institut, Avery Dennison, PARCO and Avari International Hotels on improving business performance through their people.

Born in Pakistan and brought up in the UK, Nadeem received his initial education in Scotland. After returning to Pakistan, he received his MBA from the Institute of Business Management and qualified as an academic to kick start his career in academia and subsequently ventured into organizational development consulting. Nadeem was later awarded a scholarship by the Department of Leadership & Management at Lancaster University to take up a master’s program in Human Resources & Consulting. At Lancaster, Nadeem’s research interests were focused on understanding the importance of human capital analytics to improve organisational performance which culminated with a distinction. Nadeem resides in England with his family and has since been part of several globally recognised initiatives that are revolutionising HR, people management and the future of work.

A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and advance level 7 post graduate diploma holder in human resource development, Nadeem is a regular contributor to People Management magazine, The UK Domain and LinkedIn. He is an instructor and trainer for AIHR Academy, MBL Seminars and the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce. Nadeem also dedicates his time as a mentor to Lancaster University’s career mentoring programme. He is the co-author of ‘Introduction to People Analytics - A Practical Guide to Data Driven HR published by Kogan Page. Currently, he is the managing director at Optimizhr Ltd. – a data and people analytics solution provider offering services that amplify and align organizational strategy with capability towards business optimization.

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