Everything from the way an employee is recruited into the business through to their offboarding contributes to their employee experience, and whether or not they will stay or leave.
Did they have a clear and welcoming onboarding experience that was personalized to their role and team? Were they provided with continuous feedback to help them grow? Did they have opportunities for career development and progression?
Creating these unique experiences, though, needs to be data-driven to be successful, which is where people analytics comes in. HR software with real-time people analytics allows organizations to monitor and understand the employee journey and continually optimize processes based on real-time data and feedback. This, in turn, helps deliver great experiences that engage employees and drive performance and productivity.
In this post, we’ll show you three key ways to use a real-time analytics dashboard to gain insights, collaborate and share feedback to optimize your employee experience.
1. Track key workforce data points
First things first, in order to populate analytics dashboards that you can use to optimize the employee experience, we need to have the data to feed into them.
Much of an organization’s “people data” exists purely by virtue of employees moving through the lifecycle of employment. Capturing and tracking data points like who you are hiring and when, the source and cost of their recruitment, and attrition, provides a powerful base to work with.
This should be done in tandem with collecting regular, continuous feedback to build a rich, multi-layered dataset. Here are a few key data points we recommend tracking.
Productivity refers to how employees are engaging in certain HR tasks.
A key sign of disengagement is non-completion of lifecycle tasks (e.g., goals, employee pulse and engagement surveys, reviews, policy sign-offs), so it’s really useful to be able to see which workplace processes they are engaging with (if any) and which they are not.
This can also give you a good indication of possible friction points in the employee experience i.e. sending too many pulse surveys might create overwhelm or a negative employee experience.
By tracking goal setting, progress and completion you’ll be able to understand several aspects of the employee experience:
- Your employee’s career aspirations and personal development goals.
- If they need any training or support.
- Issues with workload or expectations (i.e. if they’re not achieving goals).
- Their level of engagement.
If a person is not actively setting development goals for themselves, this might mean that they’re too busy or overwhelmed to set goals, or that they aren’t invested in their own long-term success in the organization.
Whatever the reason, without tracking and monitoring these data points, it’s tricky for managers to identify potential issues in the first place that enable them to have the conversation with staff.
Performance naturally peaks and troughs throughout an employee’s tenure, but generally there is an upward incline after onboarding until they reach peak profitable performance (and start generating an ROI for the company).
As you can see in the employee lifecycle graph below, declining performance after this time comes with a high risk of disengagement, and without intervention/re-engagement, it may eventually lead to an employee’s exit.
This is clearly an overly-simplistic model, with many employees in fact disengaging before they reach peak performance. However the key takeaway here is that declining performance is a pretty good indication of disengagement or a failure in the employee experience.
Thus it’s essential to properly measure performance and collect feedback to be able to identify disengagement points and either re-engage (because you lose money when you lose good people) or offboard (while collecting feedback to improve the experience for future and recent hires).
As a side note, while the data might point to disengagement, this won’t always be the case. The key is having the alerts and tools to know when to look deeper – regardless of the end outcome.
Being able to report on the movements and changes in your organization is another great way to understand and unpack the employee experience. Are people developing and moving into new roles? Are we actively rewarding top performers either through career development opportunities and/or pay rises?
Normalized impact of pay rises
The financial and psychological benefit of a pay rise has diminishing returns over time. For example, a 10% pay rise might sound great, but if it’s the first one an employee has had in 10 years, it might only feel like a 1% increase to them.
By measuring tenure, pay rises and the time since last remuneration change, you can calculate the normalized impact of a pay rise, which will tell you how that pay rise might feel to them (intelliHR does this automatically).
This can also give you an indication of where your organization may be falling behind – allowing you to get ahead of it before the employees leave.
Tracking attrition in HR provides an understanding of if and when you are losing employees and whether those losses are regrettable. Although it’s difficult to change the past and win-back lost high performers, using analytics to identify themes or patterns that are common across exited staff, will enable you to improve the employee experience (and thus change the future!).
From a data point perspective, tracking things like tenure, recruitment source, age, or business unit will allow you to identify if the problems are clustering in one specific experience. For example, do you have high turnover in one particular business unit or under a certain supervisor? Or are employees who leave in their first six months all hired through the same recruitment agency (which might imply a misalignment in how the role is advertised and actual expectations).
Using this data in conjunction with exit feedback allows for key insights into why people are leaving, offering your organization a chance to improve the experience for future employees.
- Complete guide to employee turnover and attrition
- The real cost of losing new employees
- Free calculator: Employee turnover cost calculator
2. Ask the right questions and ask them frequently
Data is only as good as the questions you ask. So, in order to leverage your people analytics to optimize the employee experience, it’s important to ask the right questions, and ask them frequently in the form of continuous feedback.
Using powerful feedback forms to capture the answers to these questions during each phase of the employee lifecycle will help build a rich picture of employee sentiment and their experience in your organization.
Let’s take attrition as an example. As much as the numbers (i.e. your turnover rate) tell a story in and of themselves, asking exiting employees why they are leaving can provide crucial insight into ways you can improve the experience of employees and potentially prevent unwanted attrition.
This becomes really powerful when you are able to report on these reasons at a business level. Aggregating and analyzing what employees are saying will show you the key words they are using when exiting the business and the main exit drivers, from both the employee and manager’s point of view (intelliHR does this automatically in our Attrition analysis).
If you break this data down further using business-critical filters like department, seniority, diversity, or location, then you pinpoint where in the business you need to focus to prevent turnover. You’ll also have all the information at your fingertips that you need to pull together a plan of action.
If employee engagement is what drives strategy, the employee experience is how you’re going to get there.
What questions to ask
When crafting a survey to measure employee experience, the type and wording of the questions you use will affect the information you gather. Quantitative questions will give you measurable responses that can be tracked over time, think things like employee satisfaction “on a scale from 1-10, how happy are you in your role”, or eNPS.
Meanwhile there is real power in being able to dig into qualitative text responses as well. Asking for feedback on why someone provided a certain rating in their happiness or eNPS question can allow insights into keywords and phrases, or themes to be pulled to the forefront to provide the context behind the numbers, like you can see in the intelliHR word cloud below.
Asking employees what the company can do to support them, or if they require any additional training can also be a great way to find quick wins in optimizing the employee experience.
The keywords used in qualitative answers that address feedback and engagement are crucial in helping the organization determine not only the root causes of negative employee experiences, but also improve upon the employee experience in general. And when the right questions are asked against a continuous feedback framework (say, monthly or quarterly check-ins that repeat the same questions), that’s when analytics of the trends become the tool that let you keep your finger on the pulse of employee experience.
3. Manager and leader access to the right data
Data is great at an organizational level, but change and improvement in the day-to-day employee experience is ultimately going to land with leaders.
Providing managers with access to analytics dashboards for their team will allow them not only to gain insights for themselves, but also to then use that data to make informed decisions around their team. It will empower leaders to better manage their teams, all the while improving their own experience as employees as well.
This is particularly important for leaders with a large span of control, who will benefit from being able to see at a glance:
- How their team’s happiness is trending – has anyone has moved down relative to their normal rating and why?
- What key words are the team using when it comes to the support they require?
- Wellbeing metrics.
As a people leader, frequent 1:1s can seem daunting if you don’t know where to start – but giving your leaders the data to facilitate 1:1s will not only make their job easier, but can also lead to them having more successful conversations (and be sure to grab a copy of our free manager 1:1 check-in template).
When organizations use analytics proactively, leveraging the right tools and sharing those tools with their team, they are able to deliver better, more efficient and tailored employee experiences that engage, drive performance and productivity.