See into the Future: The Crystal Ball of People Analytics, Part Two

Posted by Kathi Enderes, Zach Toof on May 21, 2020.

In part one of our blog series on people analytics, See into the Future: The Crystal Ball of People Analytics, we explored the use of leading versus lagging measures (to look beyond the past and toward future-oriented inputs and actions) and how to frame future-focused questions. Both actions allow organizations to sense future-of-work impacts such as automation, the open talent economy, and the virtual workplace. Now in part two, we’ll explore how a listening architecture can develop an ongoing and actionable approach to sensing the future.

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Creating a listening architecture

There are many ways to collect workforce information, from using HR information systems, enterprise / operational data, and workforce surveys to mining internal and external social media. Establishing a listening architecture can help organizations make the most out of these sources. A “listening architecture” is a structured approach to repeatedly collect information and derive meaning. There are a variety of ways to create a listening architecture, but organizations should consider four elements when designing theirs: purpose, channels, muscle, and governance.

Listening architecture considerations

Purpose: What are you listening for and why?
Asking “What is the future?” is not as insightful as asking “What capabilities and skills are most critical for our workers over the next few years?” When creating a listening architecture, partner with business stakeholders to identify the future-facing business / talent challenge you are trying to address (e.g., to get ahead of skill shortages, to partner humans with automations, to increase remote worker productivity) and define how insights gained from these challenges would be actioned.

If an organization has a poorly defined listening purpose—or jumps right into collecting data—it may struggle to identify what findings matter most and may lack leadership support for taking action. High-performing organizations are three times more likely than low-performing organizations to have both a clear vision and mission for people analytics and strong partnerships with business units and corporate functions.1

Channels: How will you collect information?
There are many options for collecting information, from active channels (e.g., surveys, interviews, focus groups) to passive channels (e.g., social media, job postings, communication metadata). On average, high-performing organizations use seven different channels, while low-performing organizations use three.1

Depending on your purpose, the information your organization needs will most likely not come from a single source—it will require accessing new information channels and / or the combination of different channels. For example, if you are trying to gain information on future skill gaps, that information is most likely not available through your HR system and may require new channels such as analyzing external job postings (i.e., to identify skill trends in the market) and comparing these insights to your workforce’s current skills (i.e., a proficiency survey or supervisor assessments).

Organizations can also consider how often they collect information so they can move beyond point-in-time measures to more frequent or continuous measures such as:

  • Pulsing: Shorter, more frequent surveys that may include sampling the workforce rather than including the full population
  • Life-cycle integration: Gathering data as it occurs—such as a new worker completing a survey posthire or real-time attrition metrics / trends updated information enters the HR system
  • Always on: Harvesting data from virtual collaboration spaces that are organized via topic-based categories so workers can share what is working well or poorly

Muscle: How will insights gained be put into action?
A listening architecture should not overlook the need to translate the information gained into insights and actions. High-performing organizations have stronger basic data literacy skills within both people analytics resources and their broader HR teams, and they are much more likely to use automated dashboards and self-service reporting tools.1 These strengths aid them in understanding and analyzing data to gain insights and in getting those insights into the hands of those who need to act on them.

As organizations consider developing their listening architecture muscles, they can start with smaller weights. High-performing organizations are more than three times as likely as low-performing organizations to test a variety of different solutions.2 They don’t have to go right into large-scale enterprisewide efforts; rather, they can start small by testing analytical methods with a few functions or groups, then scale and adapt the leading practices. 
Governance: How will listening be managed and improved?

Companies are facing the need to be agile, to quickly respond and adapt to change. A listening architecture can act as a sensing capability to continuously sense—and make sense of—what is happening inside and outside their borders.3 For this capability to operate effectively, it should be governed and continuously improved.

Governance can help the organization’s listening architecture to:

  • Define scope.
  • Create common data definitions.
  • Establish roles and responsibilities (for collecting, managing, and acting on data).
  • Monitor for data quality, security, and compliance.
  • Improve operations (e.g., utilize new technology or features, automate data collection or analyses, personalize dashboards).
  • Align to changing organizational needs (e.g., evaluating and adapting data practices to meet shifting priorities).

Accelerating the listening architecture

Taking these listening architecture considerations into account can help organizations sense the future, but creating the right listening channels, analyzing complex data, and scaling practices is a journey. The good news is that the growing field of people analytics solution providers can help make this journey easier.
More than 75 percent of surveyed people analytics solution providers offer capabilities on data management and reporting.3 Solution providers can also help in putting these insights into action: 88 percent offer results interpretation. Many also have advanced capabilities.4

  • 47 percent offer sentiment analyses (identifying worker feelings / emotions through text analysis)
  • 44 percent offer natural language processing (breaking up sentences to identify key words, parts of speech, or phrases)
  • 41 percent offer network analyses (visualizing the relationships between workers)

The future doesn’t need to come as a surprise. Through a strong listening architecture that is empowered by people analytics technologies, organizations can sense trends and monitor scenarios to plan for whatever the future may bring.

What does the future hold for people analytics?

Organizations can better sense and navigate the future through an effective listening architecture, but what about the key questions surrounding people analytics itself? For example:

  • What are organizations focused on solving?
  • How are data skills changing?
  • How is people data being governed and ethically used?
  • What leading technologies and cutting-edge methodologies are helping organizations to realize impacts?

The future of work is here, and it’s more analytical than ever.
Take our High-Impact People Analytics survey (intended for leaders or individual contributors involved with people-related analytics) to receive an instant snapshot of how your organization compares with others and to be invited to a free webinar on key findings.

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Kathi Enderes, PhD, is a vice president and the talent and workforce research leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Zach Toof is a manager and people analytics research leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP.
1 High-Impact People Analytics study, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2017.
2 High-Impact People Analytics study, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2017.
3 Six Top Findings for Designing Tomorrow’s Companies Today, Deloitte Consulting LLP / David Mallon and Timothy Davis, 2019.
4 People Analytics Solutions: Market Capabilities and Differentiators, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Kathi Enderes, PhD, and Matthew Shannon, 2019.

5 Ways to Enable a Human-Centered, Virtual Workplace

Posted by Kathi Enderes, Nehal Nangia on May 8, 2020.

When unexpected disruptions make business-as-usual impractical, it’s time to define the new normal and make it work for you. Whether it’s as a response to changing workforce expectations, the need to keep workers and society safe, or to support collaboration across teams spanning different geographic locations, many organizations today are looking at workplace flexibility in a new light. New ways of working often warrant new strategies, capabilities, behaviors, and mindsets to be successful. Here are five ways in which organizations can enable their people to work and collaborate effectively in a remote / virtual environment.


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See into the future: The crystal ball of people analytics

Posted by Kathi Enderes, Zachary Toof on April 20, 2020.

What if you could look into the future? Imagine if you could:

  • Identify which job applicants may have the greatest likelihood of success.
  • Predict which workers may be most at-risk of leaving.
  • Know how many resources you will need when business conditions change.
  • See how the labor market is shifting and the impact this has on in-demand skills and capabilities.

These insights and more can be gained today through people analytics. However, the vast majority of organizations are not taking full advantage of the power of people analytics (either through provider or internal capabilities): Only two percent of organizations are at the highest level of people analytics maturity.1

Continue reading “See into the future: The crystal ball of people analytics”

Machines Can’t Do That!

Posted by Josh Haims on April 14, 2020.Workforce Innovation 200x200

16 Hours That Made a Difference:  Lessons Learned on Pivoting a Live Executive Forum into a Compelling Virtual Experience

Deloitte’s 9th annual Workforce Innovation Forum (previously the Chief Learning Officer Forum) was converted from an in-person to a virtual event as a response to the evolving COVID-19 crisis. All within the span of 16 hours. The Forum team had an opportunity to sit down (virtually!) with Deloitte Consulting LLP Principal and Forum Co-Dean, Josh Haims, to reflect on this high-stake transformational experience.

Continue reading “Machines Can’t Do That!”

How CMOs can use behavioral design to enhance the human experience (HX)

Posted by Anton Doss on April 14, 2020.

Recently, companies have begun to broaden the lens they use to view their customers and see them as humans with real emotions, values, and needs. This shift is taking place as brands move from a narrow, interaction-based, customer experience to a broader understanding of their customers and their personal values—their human experience.  This new focus on elevating the human experience helps organizations to cultivate a greater connection with customers. By aligning with the human values that matter most to customers, they are more likely to foster increased loyalty and growth.

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COVID-19: Using Technology to Maximize Virtual Learning

Posted by Michael Griffiths, Jason Magill, Emily DeWeirdt, Elam Lantz, and Kriti Vij on April 6, 2020.

In our last post “Learning Technology to the Forefront” we discussed launching and enhancing an integrated learning technology strategy as part of your organization’s response to COVID-19 (coronavirus). Many virtual platforms are highly mature and can be mobilized quickly as organizations and the workforce adjust to new realities. 

In this post, we will discuss some options to consider as you aim to replace in-person learning, meetings, and events with virtual and digital alternatives. As people adjust, it is important to act quickly while also thinking strategically about the needs of your organization, employees and culture. A shift to virtual will involve flexibility as workers continuously adapt and strive to enhance their use of these platforms.

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Work disrupted, education disrupted

Posted by Robin Jones on March 25, 2020.

The pace of disruption caused by digital technologies in virtually every business sector is accelerating as AI and robotics gain ground in the enterprise. Cloud, mobile, and social computing have already driven workplace changes that have made the skills gap a pressing issue for managers. The rise of cognitive technologies adds urgency to the challenge of ensuring that employees have the talent and skills needed to create value. Robin Jones, principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital Practice and Leader of it’s Workforce Transformation practice, recently sat down with MIT Sloan Management Review in an interview for a special collection on Developing the Future Ready – Resilient – Workforce. Robin starts by citing research, which shows that a majority of employers believe that at least half of their workforces will need to be reskilled for new jobs in the future.

“Work is being changed in some very fundamental ways,” says Jones. “Nearly all the work that we do will involve people working with either a smart machine or a robot. Many businesses are really challenged by this shift, even as they provide employee training and development. And educational institutions are a lagging indicator of this disruption. We need to think about the approaches we’re taking, the resources we’re investing, how quickly we’re moving, and [whether we are] fit for purpose. Are we asking the right questions when we’re thinking about this challenge of education and work disrupted?”

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Leading Practices for Remote Learning during COVID-19

Posted by Michael Griffiths, Julie Hiipakka and Elam Lantz on March 19, 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak is resulting in an ever-increasing list of companies, conferences and other engagements to turn to remote learning. For some organizations that already leverage remote  learning, this may not be a significant change. But for others whose rely on face-to-face collaboration, in-person knowledge sharing, or management by proximity, providing learning opportunities virtually may not come naturally.

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Social Distancing for COVID-19: Learning Technology to the Forefront

Posted by Michael GriffithsJason Magill, Richard Mitchell, Minoo Italia and Elam Lantz on March 19, 2020.


Serious businesswoman working late at computer in office

The impact that COVID-19 has had on peoples’ lives and work in recent days has been precipitous and significant. As organizations rise to meet the challenges associated with this disruption, one powerful strategy they can employ is leveraging the capabilities of digital learning technologies to enhance new ways of working and support business continuity by providing an engaging alternative to in-person programs.

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Your Cloud Journey does not have to end after Deployment

ind_TMT_glb_ho_2267_loPosted by Jeffery Hall , Martin Kamen  and Ramona Cheatham on March 18, 2020.

For many, cloud is no longer an option—it is becoming inevitable. But cloud strategies differ broadly based on the context of your organization. Organizations considering a move to cloud computing may need to embrace a different approach, and failing to establish a plan and framework for deployment may lead to challenging implementations. Drivers such as deployment planning, risk tolerance, and the way companies do business tend to predict your organization’s implementation pace and scope, as well as the technologies you need. Yet cloud strategies may not account for an organization’s cloud maturity level after deployment. When we talk about cloud maturity, we are trying to understand what organizations are doing after deployment.

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