by Mike Guglielmo and Luke Bellos
In a recent interview, Brigette McInnis-Day, the Chief People Officer for UiPath, shared her insights on the importance of people analytics and its potential to transform HR practices and drive organizational success. With her extensive background in leading global teams and leveraging data-driven approaches, Brigette sheds light on the value of analytics, the need for automation, and the critical role of culture in achieving desired outcomes.
Understanding the Significance of People Analytics
Brigette discussed the moment she realized the importance of people analytics during her career journey. Transitioning from a focus on total rewards and compensation, she recognized the need to understand how HR adds value to the business. “When I joined SAP, I took on the role of leading total rewards. However, it was during a meeting as an HR business partner that I realized I needed to demonstrate the value I brought to the business.” This insight pushed her to leverage analytics, including exit data and regression analysis, to assess time to revenue and evaluate factors such as talent, tenure, and sales performance to create a comprehensive HCM dashboard. By presenting this analysis transparently, Brigette fostered a healthy competitive environment within the organization, and the dashboard became a valuable resource for managing their people. Through this analytical approach, she measured the impact of HR initiatives on talent retention, revenue generation, and decision-making processes, ultimately understanding and showcasing the true value of HR in contributing to the overall success of the business.
The Role of Analytics in Driving Change
Brigette shared one of the best practices: using analytics to identify root causes and address specific issues. She stressed the importance of targeted analysis instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, as it uncovers valuable insights. Brigette highlighted the power of predictive analytics in proactively tackling challenges related to attrition, talent acquisition, and diversity. For instance, she explained, “Let’s take diversity, for example. While everyone claims to support it, having aspirational goals supported with transparency of data allows sources to find new talent markets and leaders better decision making as they hire and promote talent to promote diversity in a way that is right for the business, locations and customer needs.” Brigette advocated merging qualitative and quantitative data for a comprehensive understanding of organizational dynamics. Her approach involved leveraging automation to predict individuals’ potential and career growth, empowering leaders to make informed decisions about specific individuals.
Automation and the Future of HR
Brigette expressed her enthusiasm for automation and the great potential in merging qualitative and quantitative data effectively, transforming the HR landscape. Brigette envisioned a future where HR departments could leverage technologies like AI and automation to eliminate repetitive work, enhance employee experiences, and future-proof career paths. Illustrating the benefits of automation in HR, she explained, “At UiPath, we have automation onboarding that removes manual onboarding activities (including required training) for new employees and their leaders, ensuring career development discussions, mentoring and even reminding me of important employee anniversary dates.
Measuring and Enhancing Culture
Another area of emphasis for Brigette was the measurement of organizational culture, and her experience provided a remarkable example of its impact. “One instance that caught my attention was measuring the impact of culture,” she shared. “I joined a company where culture was frequently discussed, which I found intriguing. It seemed like they prioritized culture over financials, and perhaps that was the secret to their success.” To measure culture within the organization, Brigette and her team took an unconventional approach by linking culture to their interactions with customers, observing how every customer conversation revolved around their culture and generated different results compared to their top competitor. Through extensive data analysis and pulse surveys, they identified the main factors that affected the culture, consistently sharing the findings and breaking them down by demographics for employees and leaders. Their analysis revealed that the experience varied depending on an individual’s background and the prevailing approach within the organization, which was not acceptable to them. “We focused on moving in the right direction and visualizing what that progress would look like,” Brigette explained.
During these surveys, employees brought up specific issues that Brigette and her team addressed based on their grouping. By visually displaying the data, group by group, they showcased their progress as an organization every month. “It created a sense of accountability, as there was no place to hide when you had data to back it up,” Brigette said. This approach proved transformative, even for an organization as large as theirs with 40,000 people. Brigette firmly believed in using data meaningfully, and she was not a fan of superficial data usage at higher levels. By measuring and visualizing culture, Brigette demonstrated how it could have a profound impact on shaping organizational behavior and driving positive change. She mentioned the importance of transparency and honesty when assessing and communicating the cultural strengths and weaknesses, and through data-driven insights, organizations can identify areas for improvement, promote inclusivity, and align their culture with customer and financial outcomes.
Building a Data-Driven HR Team
For organizations in the early stages of implementing people analytics, Brigette advised starting with a few key focus areas, as she shared from her own experience with analytics and various technologies. “I used to do some coding and SPSS during graduate school. I believe those are valuable tools. If you know how to use them, they can provide you with useful information,” she said, acknowledging the significance of these tools. Brigette emphasized the value of predictive analysis, a key aspect that they focused on while working at SAP. “One of the key aspects of predictive analysis was incorporating external information to understand market trends, which was crucial for our digital boardroom,” she explained.
Automation also played a significant role in their analytical approach. “You could simply instruct it based on your objectives, and sometimes you would even be surprised by the outcomes, as they might not align with your initial assumptions. That, I believe, is the beauty of exploration and incorporating different variables instead of relying solely on assumptions.”
Brigette emphasized the importance of having a solid business case, particularly in the HR and organizational space. She pointed out the risks of relying solely on gut feelings for decision-making, stating, “Relying solely on gut feelings isn’t enough. You need to operationalize your instincts, while also engaging more stakeholders and fostering transparency and trust within the organization.” Brigette firmly believes that organizations can lay a solid foundation for data-driven decision-making by conducting regular pulse surveys, analyzing demographic variances, and identifying the top three areas of improvement. This approach, combined with the use of analytic tools and sharing outcomes with employees and leaders, not only enhances transparency but also builds trust and supports a more robust business case.
Brigette’s insights highlight the immense potential of people analytics in revolutionizing HR practices and driving organizational success. By leveraging data-driven approaches, organizations can make informed decisions, enhance employee experiences, and align their strategies with desired outcomes. The integration of automation and AI further empowers HR departments to focus on value-adding initiatives and foster a culture of continuous improvement. As organizations embrace people analytics, they position themselves at the forefront of the ever-evolving business landscape, equipped to address challenges, seize opportunities, and achieve sustainable growth.
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