HR Analytics - How It Matters In Google

HR Analytics - How It Matters In Google

The notion of making human capital decisions base on statistical data may sound like a crazy, futuristic concept with a science-fiction twist. In reality, such phenomenon happen continuously within our society, well radiated in this day and age of internet and social media. Just think about all the ads we see everyday on our web browser: We see certain messages because they are linked to our data and to statistic generated by our "user experience" (i.e. what kind of things we usually search on google, what music do we listen to, where do we live, what language do we speak…).

HR Analytics is a solid reality as businesses shift paradigm from a traditional corporate hierarchy to a work environment in which productivity is stimulated (and rewarded) by taking into account individual characteristics, as well as emphasising on the value of teamwork.

The Principles Applied

The following 30-min video presentation by Kathryn Dekas, Google’s People Analyst, offers insights on this particular philosophy of HR management.

Much like an ad that appears on the screen of a user according to his or her personal data, Google People Operations approaches decision-making based on statistics with diverse data sets coming from sub-functions such as Talent Acquisition, Benefits, Technology HR Ops, etc. This process is dubbed as the “analytic value chain”, and it helps to turn raw information into valuable intelligence to identify trends, generate insights and spur actions.

The Importance Of Individuality

I had illustrated HR analytics importance in providing valuable HR insights, but focusing on the data does not mean to lose sight of the “human factor”. Hello! We are talking about Human Resources here. Forward-thinking companies, like Google, are “people-centered”, as it appears from Kathryn Dekas ‘ insights. A case in point, Google People Operations came up with a sort of “manager's profile” through feedback gathered from their employees. Some of the most recurring qualities that Googlers look for in a people manager are:

  • A coach who empowers the team without micro-managing.
  • One who attends to the needs of the individuals and values communication and career development.
  • A leader of vision, strategic thinking and technical skills.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, a people manager might struggle if he or she:

  • Does not focus too much on settling into the environment
  • Does not put enough effort in communicating with the team
  • Lacks a consistent approach to performance management

In A Nutshell

It might sound kind of cheesy, but the number one ingredient for success is trust, within the working environment, as with any interpersonal relationship. Transparency is paramount, and Google has gone as far as focusing on busting corporate myths and at reassuring employees from unfounded rumours that might make them feel like their work is threatened or that their contribution is less valued than somebody else’s.

As aptly explained by Kathryn Dekas, the “analytic value chain” tries to avoid getting started from the unstable and subjective concept of “opinion”, getting the juice from solid data and statistic, but, ironically, this actually increases employee engagement. No wonder Google is pace setting.

Related resources on this topic

P.S. Thanks to Andrea Caccese for helping me to summarise the main points of the YouTube video.

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