At the 2019 Great Place to Work For All Summit, the room was filled to capacity for a focus session titled, “From Information to Insights: Leveraging Your Employee Experience Data to Unleash Innovation By All”. It was led by Greg Pryor, senior vice president, people and performance evangelist at Workday, and Paul Wolcott, president of Great Place to Work.
To understand why this session was so popular, I interviewed Paul about the role of data in HR and what he learned from his time with Greg.
From Information to Insights: Leveraging Employee Experience Data
Katie: Were you surprised by the popularity of this session?
Paul: Not at all. I say that for a few reasons. First, Workday is a leader in enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources and its technology always has people jumping at the chance to learn what the company is doing and where they see the industry going.
Even the attendees who aren’t Workday customers picked up great information and best practices that are applicable to organizations of any size, as this wasn’t a session about how to use Workday or Great Place to Work's culture management platform, Emprising.
Second, anyone who has met or seen Greg present knows what a dynamic, engaging and knowledgeable speaker he is. He is always inspiring and lives up to his ‘evangelist’ title.
Finally, we launched Emprising at our previous Summit, so we got a lot of requests for sessions that would help our customer community learn from us and each other about how to best use the data and analytical capabilities of the platform.
For a few folks I spoke with that aren’t deep into data analysis yet, they really appreciated getting to see what it looks like to build data-powered people programs.
Katie: There are many enterprise customers using both Workday and Emprising. Why do you think that is?
Paul: Workday and Great Place to Work are completely complementary and we support organizations in very different ways. Our partnership with Workday (and other end-to-end employee lifecycle solutions) is successful because companies love getting data and then validating results.
With Workday, companies have the insights they need to figure out what is happening at each stage of the employee lifecycle. Understanding an individual’s experience at work in a deeper, more interconnected way enables organizations to better care for and develop their people.
Then, they can overlay Great Place to Work data, which reflects employees' perception of their leaders, colleagues and job. We provide best-in-class benchmarking and the third-party validation that companies are creating a great workplace for all their employees and maximizing the potential of everyone.
Katie: Can you talk more about the benefits of using Emprising, the powerful culture management platform from Great Place to Work?
Paul: Part of what our customer community values about their partnership with Great Place to Work is our ability to quantify their culture, provide third-party validation of their employee experience efforts, and provide leaders with feedback on behaviors required to create powerfully magnetic cultures that produce fantastic business results.
Our model and methodology has been fine-tuned over 30 years of surveying employees at organizations of all sizes around the world.
We can definitively tell a company the elements of culture that are working for employees and where improvement is needed – specifically around people leaders, since we know that culture and the employee experience are disproportionately shaped by leaders.
Workday is a valued customer of ours, an important part of the Great Place to Work community, and supporter of our For All mission. During the session, Greg actually talked about how the data we provided to the company during a period of rapid growth provided critical insights to how its culture was scaling as it grew.
Those insights contributed to its decision to design new programs aimed at preserving its special culture through growth. People have always been central to Workday and I’m so proud that we could be part of that journey and help Workday continue to be a company that is an employee-first, culture-focused company.
Katie: Is there such a thing as too much data?
Paul: At times, yes. While there’s no doubt that data enables smarter business decisions, plenty of studies have proven that people overestimate the amount of information they need and, more importantly, will actually use, to make decisions. It’s about intent. There’s a saying, “Torture numbers long enough and they’ll tell you anything.”
We hate to see paralysis or over-analysis of data so we, like many data companies, focus on actionable insights and ensuring companies get a great high-level view of their culture strengths and weaknesses.
Then, with Emprising, we allow people to dig deeper to get at the root of the problems or the bright spots to inform or validate their efforts around employee experience. Our customers are telling us that they really appreciate the balance.
Katie: What would you say to HR leaders that aren’t yet comfortable analyzing data?
Paul: We encounter that less and less these days. It’s true that HR used to be thought of as more of a 'soft' science and leaders often led by gut instinct and experience, in large part due to the lack of technology available.
Today, however, HR leaders can collect, view, and make data-driven decisions, just like the rest of the C-Suite. In fact, I spoke with a CHRO recently who excitedly told me about a discovery she made after initially breaking out her company’s survey data within Emprising by gender and then by location to quickly see the differences across company locations.
She was able to instantly see where to focus her efforts and resources. Data can now be explored real-time, dynamically and granularly, which opens so many opportunities for organizations to create great workplaces for all their employees.
Katie: What feedback did you get after the session?
Paul: In addition to glowing remarks about Greg’s speaking skills, which wasn’t surprising, it was great to get feedback from our customers about the direction of Emprising. We are co-creating our platform with our customers and we take every comment or feature request very seriously.
When I reflect on how we supported customers just a couple of years ago versus how we do now through the dynamic SaaS platform we have today, I am really proud of our team at Great Place to Work and even more excited about what’s to come. It's powerful to supply leaders with the data they need to create world-class cultures for all.
Katie: What are you most looking forward to at the 2020 Great Place to Work For All Summit?
Paul: Because our theme is "For All Leadership," I’m looking forward to discussing how we can better empower people managers through access to data and employee feedback. Our experience and data tell us that the key to employee experience and workplace culture is leadership.
That’s why our For All model measures leadership effectiveness, how they’re living the organization’s values, exhibiting behaviors that foster high-trust workplaces, and why our platform is built to make it easy to engage leaders into the employee experience data so they know what they need to continue to do, adjust, or stop doing altogether.
Some of the organizations we’re fortunate to work with have incredibly transparent cultures and share all the data and comments openly. Others want to get there but don’t feel ready. Our product teams have worked extremely hard to develop features and functionality that allow organizations the flexibility to allow managers to have direct access to explore their slice of the organization’s data.
I’m looking forward to sharing more, learning more about how Emprising is helping our customers lead their organizations, and what more we could do to help leaders have and create a great workplace experience. Can’t wait to explore this, and much more, at the conference. I know this is going to be the best one yet!
Want to learn more? Reach out to us about how to drive meaningful impact with your business and people using Emprising here. And we would love to welcome you at the For All Summit on March 3 –5, 2020 in San Francisco.