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Well, welcome to your own show, David. It  is always fun to make you answer questions   rather than ask them. So welcome to  the podcast. How are you doing today? 
  I am good, thanks. It is always better asking  the questions than answering them, so I   look forward to this with some trepidation. 
 Excellent. Well it is always an absolute joy to   dig into your predictions. 
Once again, you have  gazed into your crystal ball and come up with some  

predictions for the year ahead, which we are going  to spend some time exploring today. But for anyone   that hasn't already read your article, many have,  on LinkedIn, please do go and check out David's   predictions for 2022. They are excellent and there  is a great lively debate on there. You are free   to add comments and add your own predictions  as well, which is something we will get into   towards the end of this episode, actually. So first question for you, David,   given that you do this every year, very  bold of you to do so, very brave. How  

well did your predictions from last year do? 
 Well, I thought you might ask that, so I did go   back a mark last year's exam paper. The first  thing to say, and let's get the excuses in now,   is trying to predict the future is a mug's  game. So that is a quote from Douglas Adams,   who is the author of Hitchhiker's Guide To The  Galaxy. A fantastic book, it must be said, where   I am probably showing my age by mentioning it. 
 But we all like to make the odd prediction and  

for me, I find it is a really good way to  reflect on the year that's gone, learn,   and plan for the year ahead. But to be  fair, and in my defence, many of last year's   predictions were reasonably accurate. Now, maybe  they were a bit safe, that could be something that   could be levied at me. But take these three. 
One,  there has definitely been an increased focus on   employee wellbeing. Certainly in the majority  of firms that we work with at Insight222 and we   have seen that consistently from the podcast  guests we have had throughout 2021. The one   that really sticks out I think, is the podcast  episode with Arianna Huffington and Donna Morris,   when Donna was talking about the efforts  they are making around wellbeing at Walmart. 

Second, and I know will cover this a bit later in  our discussion. You would expect me to say this,   people analytics has grown as a  function and the emphasis really   does seem to have shifted from a  focus on influencing HR activities,   to one that is primarily focused on  the impact and business outcomes. 
  And I think the third area, I know we are going to  dig into this one as well, is the continued shift   towards skills as a focal point. The  shift towards a skills based organisation  

is transforming the role and impact of HR.  So definitely seeing that happening even more   in 2021 and I think even more in 2022. 
 And if I could pick one of last year's   predictions that hasn't really come to pass fully  yet. I think I said, I better quote the words,  

“HR becomes more digital, more agile and more data  literate” It is happening but maybe not quite as   quickly as I predicted or as I hoped. For example,  in the annual people analytics trends research   that we do at Insight222, that is across a  hundred global organisations, although the   CHRO in 90% of those organisations has pretty much  mandated that people analytics is a core component   of the HR strategy, those same organisations  reports that only 42% currently have a data-driven   culture in HR. So plenty of work to do. So in summary Ian, I might give myself a generous   B or a B minus for last years prediction. 
 I think you are being very modest. I think,  

that is really interesting and we were  just talking about it a little bit before   starting the recording, which is it is very hard  to make these predictions because actually things   do change quite slowly and I think we will  dig into that in a little bit. As you say,   some of these trends are emerging, but  a long way to go for some of them still.  So let's get into what you were looking at for  2022. The first one that you went for, I do feel  

is a fairly safe prediction, a little bit of  examining the year as well as looking forward,   which is around hybrid working and the impact that  the pandemic has had on all of us and our ability   to actually go into an office and see others. 
But  as you think about how this evolves, obviously   I don't expect you to predict how the pandemic  is going to play out because that does seem to   be one that we can't all judge particularly well.  But if we do get to this point where we have more   choice around where we work, whether we go back to  the office or not, what are your thoughts on how   hybrid working will evolve in 2022 and beyond? 
 You are right it is quite a safe prediction   perhaps, but it is also probably one that  is the biggest topic whenever we talk to   our clients at Insight222. I did say that  last year, would be the year that firms   fully transition to hybrid ways of working, but  that hasn't played out. And as you mentioned,   that is largely due to the pandemic, the Delta  and Omicron variants have delayed the whole   return to office and postponed  hybrid working in many cases. 
  What is clear though, and this is where the  prediction really comes in, is there is a growing   chasm between employers, who yearn for a return  to significant in person working, and employees,   who don’t, at least according to the many numerous  surveys that we see. So when you then factor in  

the great resignation, and we can debate how real  that is or not. But when you cut through the hype   of that, it appears to be primarily about  the pandemic causing employees to reflect on   what they want from their lives. It becomes a bit  more interesting. And maybe that isn't the long   commute to work three or four days a week, or the  long hours, maybe people don't want that anymore. 

So I think we have arrived at a bit  of an inflection point about where,   when, and how work gets done. And employees  arguably have the upper hand in what seems   to be quite a buoyant marketplace. 
 So the prediction really is about   HR orchestrating that shift to hybrid and  brokering that deal between leaders and workers.   Hopefully we are seeing them using people data to  inform that transition. That comes into something   we are going to talk about later, having that  effective approach to continuous employee   listening, can certainly help shape that path. 
 And it really helps shape the context around  

future ways of working, not just for leaders  so that their policies can gain support from   the workforce. I don't know if you saw but  Microsoft talked about that hybrid paradox.   People are saying they want the flexibility  of working from anywhere, but they also crave   more in-person connections. 
So there is a balance  that as the pandemic plays out, you might see move   one way or the other, depending on  where we are from a health perspective.  But, the reason I put it at number  one is the prize could be significant   for the companies and HR functions that do it  well. If you get the approach to hybrid right,  

and that is not just the where, which we seem  very fixated on at the moment, but the when   and the how. Getting that approach right so that  it attracts rather than repels top talent, that   could turn for individual organisations, despite  the threat of the great resignation, and actually   attract people into their organisations. We have heard from companies like Salesforce,   IBM, Microsoft, and others on the podcast,  that are thinking like that and putting   employees at the centre of their approach to  hybrid working. There are other organisations  

that aren’t and it will be interesting to  see how that plays out in the next 12 months.  And the biggest wish of course, is  that the pandemic starts to recede. 
  Yeah, absolutely. And I think what we have  also seen anecdotally, I haven't actually   seen a lot of data on this yet but I think  it would be interesting to see, is just the   ability to attract talent now from wherever.  Particularly somewhere like the US, where maybe   someone needed to move from east coast to west  coast, actually to now hire people wherever they   are as long as they are within a similar-ish  time zone, or maybe in some cases even if they   are not. I think that is opening up opportunities  for employees, but also for employers, to find   different talent to fit those jobs. So, yeah, it  will be fascinating to see how that one plays out. 

I guess whilst we are thinking about  data, one of your favourite topics,   again it is not a big surprise to see  people analytics as one of your predictions   and for that to evolve further. It has definitely  been a phenomenal year for the field and we have   seen a lot of progression, a lot of different ways  that people analytics has really been used more,   and we have seen that field evolve. When you look now into 2022,   what do you think is next for people analytics?  What about themes like trust and ethics,   that you mentioned in your predictions, how do you  see all of this playing out in the coming year? 
  Well, I will come back to the  trust and ethics bit secondly, but   remind me if I forget as well. I thought it might  be helpful for listeners to actually just start   with the first part of the question and maybe  highlight some of the findings that we have   found in our people analytics trends report. 
 So that was published towards the end of last year   in October, and as I mentioned earlier, it was  informed by a survey of 114 global companies.   As you said, it really highlighted that  growth in the field and really builds on what   Jonathan and I wrote in Excellence In People  Analytics. The growth of people analytics,  

the investment in people analytics by leading  organisations, and the impact of people analytics,   are all rising exponentially. Long may  that continue. In just 12 months actually,   from doing the survey in 2020, we saw that the  ratio of people analytics professionals to overall   FTE in the companies we surveyed, had improved  to 1 people analytics professional to every 2,900   employees from 1 to 4,000, which is quite  a significant increase. 
And 75% of those   companies told me that those functions are going  to grow even more in the next 18 months. In fact,   only 1 of those 114 companies said that their  people analytics would shrink and they were just   about to divest a third of their organisation. So people analytics is growing pretty well,   certainly in the organisations that we surveyed,  which was quite a representative sample. 
  Also we found that CHROs are more or less  unanimous now that people analytics is important.  

The 90% figure I mentioned earlier, that is  saying it is a clear part of HR strategy.   And we also found that 89% of people analytics  either report directly now to the chief people   officer or a member of the HR leadership team,  and that was 75%, 12 months previously. So again,   everything is tracking upwards in that respect. And we know, because we hear the stories   in our privileged position at Insight222 and  we certainly saw in a lot of the case studies,   that Jonathan and I collected in the book, 30 of  them, that when it is impactful, people analytics   is contributing millions of dollars of value to  the top and bottom lines. If you can create that  

data-driven culture in HR, you can really  scale and enhance that value even further.  So, what does that mean about  2022? If we look at the clues   as to what to expect, maybe we should look at  some of what the leading companies are doing.   This is the question that Jonathan and I were  attempting to answer in the book because it is   a question that we get asked a lot. It is an area  that we really looked at in the research as well.  

It is basically but perhaps not surprisingly, the  leading companies invest more in people analytics,   bigger teams, more in technology, they productise  analytics at scale, which I think is key and we   are going to be talking about personalised  learning and personalised talent mobility.   Getting data into the hands of the HR business  partners, but also managers in the business,   so they can make more informed decisions, we have  really seen that in the leading organisations   and they have created that data-driven  culture for HR as well. I know we   are going to talk about that as well. So really lots of activity happening and those   leading companies are kind of pointing the way  a little bit. 
We are fortunate that we have had  

a number of people from those companies  on the podcast, Patrick, from ABN AMRO,   Ernest NG from Salesforce, just to mention two  we have had recently, Jeremy Shapiro from Merck   and Co and Alexis Saussinan from Merck KGAA. One of the areas that we are seeing   even more focus on is the ethics question, as you  mentioned, so I didn't forget it which is good.   Let's be honest with people analytics, employee  trust is hard to earn and easy to lose. So it has   got to be at the forefront of company's strategies  around people analytics. Creating trust is  

key to creating that sustainable success. 
 You will remember Ian, because you led this   piece of work. But when we created the ethics  charter, all the way back in 2018 at Insight222,   with some of the clients at the time, that  was partly catalysed by the EU introducing   the GDPR regulations in 2018. There is a lot more  regulation on the horizon. The EU is now looking   at regulating the use of AI by companies, not  just with customers but within the organisation.   The EEOC in the US, is also looking  at the context of AI in the workplace,   particularly around hiring algorithms. And New  York has actually just introduced legislation   related to the use of hiring algorithms,  so this is an ongoing case of legislating. 

Now that is not the only reason why companies  should be paying attention to ethics as well,   delivering benefits to employees through  people analytics, it isn’t just the right   thing to do it actually has a positive  impact on business performance as well.  One of my favourite pieces of research is a  study that Accenture did a couple of years   ago,I think it might have been in back in  2019, where they were looking at what is   the potential value of the workforce data that  organisations already had in their system. And   they found that where companies took a responsible  approach and put trust at the forefront of people   data, the trust dividends as they called  it, could be worth more than a 6% increase   in future revenue growth. Which if you  think about the amount of revenue some big   organisations are making, it is absolutely huge. 
 And a couple of quick examples. One of the 30 case   studies in, Excellence In People Analytics, comes  from Lloyd's Banking Group, and outlines how they   developed an ethics charter that protects  employees and drives value for the company. 

And then on the podcast, perhaps one of the best  examples that we have had was from Jimmy Zhang,   who at the time was leading people analytics at  Vertex Pharmaceuticals. He says that it is one   of the first priorities of setting up people  analytics was to create that ethics charter,   with those guiding principles, that they shared  with employees, and it helped drive that trust   and transparency around people analytics in the  company. Thinking about some of the things that   Jimmy was telling us that they were doing at  Vertex, building their own talent marketplace,   using sensing data to help the organisation  see around corners in terms of looking at   what competitors are hiring, you can see by  putting that ethics element right at the core   of what they are doing was so important. So yeah, I think we will see more talk   about ethics and trust in people analytics,  over the next year. And obviously of course,   one of the reasons for that is there is more  data available for organisations to analyse   in people analytics and some of that  data is arguably more sensitive than the   data that we have got in our HR systems. 
 Yeah, absolutely. And I guess what we are  

seeing more and more as well, and we have heard  this a lot in the last year on the podcast, is   that link to the business becoming stronger and  stronger, incorporating more than just HR data   into people analytics work as well. So, do you see it that it is the   business that is driving that shift  and demand for more information? Or,   do you see that it is HR, really trying to push  that information out? Or, is it a bit of both?  I think it is a bit of both. If you look at the  challenges that people analytics teams, certainly   the more developed people analytics teams are  studying, like hybrid work, like collaboration,   like burnout, like wellbeing, like inclusion,  and you need decent data for that, and you need   data that is not just typical HR data, to look at  that. Particularly, I know we are going to talk   about it a little bit later when we talk about  listening, but some of that collaboration data   like calendar, email, meta data, maybe data coming  from Slack and Teams and Zoom, and all the other   technologies that we are using to collaborate with  each other virtually, everything is trackable now. 

When you think about it, if we are all working  from home, pretty much the way we communicate with   each other now, you can track that and you can get  some great insight from it as well. You can get   insight that will really help employees. You can  identify burnout risk. You can identify manager   behaviours and the importance of managers checking  in and doing one-to-ones with people. Microsoft  

found this is even more important in hybrid work.  On-boarding new people. We have on-boarded new   people at Insight222, we have had to do that  fully remotely which is very different from   how we would have done it in the past. So, yeah, I think it is being driven by   the business, but also I think that as people  analytics teams become more sophisticated, as   HR does become more digital and data driven,  I think HR professionals themselves are   seeing the possibilities of some of these  technologies and then they want to use that   to help the business and to help the workforce. 
 Yeah, absolutely. I guess one of the areas that we  

have really seen grow in that respect as well,  particularly due to the pandemic, is the rise   of the talent marketplace technology. We have  seen learning experience platforms, LXP’s really   growing in the last few years as well. That was  kind of sped up quite a lot by the pandemic, for   some companies. And all of this starts to allow  us to focus a bit more on skills, which is again,  

a topic that has been talked about for a few years  now, but has been quite hard to get a grip on.  And so, as we move beyond the legacy  of competency frameworks and move   more to understanding skills of the workforce, how  do you see that playing out in 2022? And, can you   give any examples of companies that you think are  really doing this well and are at the forefront? 
  I am preaching to the converted a little bit here,  talking to you Ian, because I know you actually   started doing this at Cisco years ago, back in  what, 2015, 2016 you were looking at this? 
  But the increasing shift of focus on skills  is arguably leading to a pretty radical   transformation of HR. Arguably we are only  at the early stages of this transformation.   I know from the research that you did  for the workforce planning playbook,   which I will probably ask you about  in a minute, to turn it back to you.   90% of companies told us they want to build  skills based workforce planning, but only a   quarter were currently doing so. So that shows  that there is a lot of room to grow there.  One organisation that is obviously doing this  well, we had Anshul Sheopuri of IBM, on the   podcast recently and he talks about skills acting  as a silver thread that connects all aspects of   the employee journey. We have talked before Ian,  and I think we talked on this episode last year,   about how this focus on skills is breaking down  some of those traditional silos in HR. Basically  

what IBM have done, is through natural language  processing and machine learning they have been   able to infer the skills of all employees within  the organisation, which is over 300,000 people. So   much better than asking people for their skills  and actually apparently, from what Anshul was   telling us and what Diane Gherson told us last  year, it is actually more accurate as well.   
Then IBM has developed technology that provides  these employees with recommendations on learning,   or career paths, mobility, mentors,  and it has linked all that together,   which makes sense, doesn't it? Anshul, told us  it has even enabled them to shift from pay for   performance, to pay for skills, that kind of  gives you an indication of where this could go.  So that is an example of a company that has built  technology focused on skills and I know Salesforce   and Vertex have done something similar  in that respect. I understand Spotify  

have just announced that they have built  their own talent marketplace as well.  Others have chosen to partner with companies  like Gloat, Degreed, Eightfold, Fuel50,   there are others as well who collectively are  behind what arguably, is one of the hottest   technology innovations in recent years, the  talent marketplace. We have had HR leaders from   Schneider Electric, IQVIA, Standard Chartered,  who have all implemented talent marketplaces,   but I think certainly in terms of what they  actually publish publicly, I think it is probably   Unilever that has the best example here. I remember the podcast discussion we had  

with Jeroen Wels, back in March 2021, where he  explained that they had used talent marketplace,   and had been for three years I think, to  create that culture of internal mobility   at the company. One powerful example that Jeroen,  gave was how their talent marketplace had enabled   Unilever to redeploy over 3000 people from  parts of the business with low demand to areas   experiencing really high demand, due to  the pandemic. 
And I know for Jeroen,   one of his proudest moments was that it had such  an impact that Unilever CEO Alan Jobe, mentioned   it in one of their quarterly earnings calls. I would love to turn it back to you for comment,   because I know that this is an area that I do bow  to your extra expertise than mine on this. How do   you see the focus on skills playing out in 2022?  And are there any other examples that you can   think of, that you would like to add to the mix? 
 So, I am not going to let you off the hook   too much, I am going to answer this one  quickly and then get back to grilling you.  But, as you mentioned, we did do a big piece of  research around workforce planning and what one   of the biggest central themes really, was this  shift to a skill based workforce planning model.  

I think exactly as you said, and as we  talked about last time, and we have heard   others talking about, I think what is really  fascinating about the skills conversation,   is that it is breaking down silos, and that  it is touching many different parts of HR,   or indeed bringing together many different parts  of HR. And really, if you start to think about it   through the eyes of the employee, which obviously  more and more companies are doing with a more   human centred design approach, you realise  that employees don't want to think about   learning over here and recruitment over  there. Diane talks about that as well.   It really is about understanding your job,  your career, where you are going to go next,   what you can learn. Performance management can  even creep in there as well. There are so many   different factors and so I like what Anshul  said, around skills really being the thread.  Something that we saw in the research was that  people will come at it from many different angles   and so very few people are actually saying, oh, I  am going to tackle workforce planning and make it   skill-based. Actually the entry point in is, oh,  we have got to introduce this learning system that   allows us to start to build that skill taxonomy.  Or, we are going to go with talent marketplace  

because we are keen on assignments, or internal  mobility, or some other focus. And it could be   recruitment for example, but that allows them  to then start to build this muscle of skills.  It is a really big topic, it is a really big nut  to crack and I think what has happened over the   last few years, which I think is really helping  the rise, is that technology has got a lot better.  

And so to think of that IBM example where they  are inferring skills, rather than asking people   to fill out forms, then actually as we see  machine learning becoming more capable, we see   this technology advancing, it becomes something  that you can start to understand more about what   people are doing, the work they are doing, the  skills they have, without having to ask them.  And I think for me, that is the bit that is  going to be really interesting because really   all we are trying to do with all of this, is  get a better understanding of work, what is   what we need from people, whether it is a job, a  task, whatever it might be. How do we understand   that in its various parts? How do we define that?  It is not just actually about skills, it is about   knowledge, it is about experience, it is  about all of these things and we are just   scratching the surface of being able to really  understand them. That is why competencies and  

competency frameworks have been so popular  because they try to be more than skills,   but by doing that, they almost become intangible. And so as we start to double down on skills,   how will we start to understand all these  other aspects as well. I think ultimately,   get a better understanding of the work that  we need people to do and then understand what   people can do and what they are doing. And  that at its very simplest form is what we   are trying to do and it is great to see that  starting to play a role in workforce planning. 

The last thing I will say is that with  all of that, what we are also seeing in   the workforce planning space, is a shift  to be more continuous. This is less about   an annual plan that ends up in a drawer, three  to five year timeframes. We of course need to   be looking further out, but the reality is that  people are really focusing on the next 6,12,18   months a lot at the time and they really want to  be able to plan for that organisation. 
And so   being able to do this on a more continuous  basis, ultimately it needs data and that   is where all of this starts to pull together. So yeah, I am really excited to see how this plays  

out and I think it is technology and analytics  that is ultimately going to pave the way here. 
  Yep. You are doing this episode next year  Ian, and I am going to ask the questions. 
  No chance, no chance. So let’s shift gears  and allow you to keep talking. I wanted to   talk a little bit about employee listening  and employee voice. Again, it is a topic we   have spoken to a lot of leaders about, heard a  lot of people on the podcast talking about it.  

This last year in particular, you mentioned  at the beginning, the shift to focus more on   employee wellbeing. Obviously the pandemic  has just brought that front and centre.  How do you think this is going to play out if  the pandemic starts to wain and we start to get   back to a more normal life, then do you see  that companies are going to keep going with   this? Have we really made a change that is going  to be here for the future? And, what else do you   think people might start doing in this area? 
 I think if there is a positive consequence of the   pandemic in the workplace, it is that leaders seem  to be even more genuinely interested in seeking   feedback from their employees and pay more  attention to wellbeing. So that is good.  Do I think it will stay? Yes, because I think  once the genie is out of the bottle, it is going   to be very hard to put it back in. And actually  there is business benefits of doing so and there   has been plenty of research. Ethan Burris, from  McCombs School of Business, at The University of   Texas at Austin, he did some research which showed  that when companies keep that forum for employees   to be able to speak up, the company benefits. It is pretty obvious, I suppose, in some respects,   isn't it. If you have got employees on the  frontline, working with customers and you are  

making it easy for them to give feedback and make  suggestions, then why wouldn't that be helpful?  So you could also make a strong case that  we are in the midst of the pandemic, and   I think we will be for the foreseeable future,  and all that focus on the great resignation   so companies will step up their employee  listening programs even further next year.  As you said, there has been some powerful  stories throughout the last two years.   The examples that really resonate with me  and perhaps this gives a clue as to where   employee listening and continuous listening may  go, are those that are combining survey data from   either, doing far more regular surveys, pulse  surveys, even to the extent that some companies,   like Microsoft, are doing it daily.  But combining that with some of the   collaboration data that we talked about earlier,  to gain insights around topics like wellbeing,   collaboration, innovation, burnout risk. There is a great example at Uber, where  

the analysis of survey responses and data from  some of the collaboration tools that they use,   highlighted the pressure on focus time due to  remote working. And that basically was having   an impact on employees self-reported  saying they didn't feel as productive,   longer working hours, burnout risk. They then  actually tried to address that, partly through   education, by actually helping employees  understand the importance of focus time.   But then enablement, actually creating a tool  that re-arranged people's calendars for them.   And that helped the employees cope  with some of the collaborative   overload that they were dealing with. 
 You will remember that we had Microsoft,  

Chief People Officer, Kathleen  Hogan, as a guest on last summer.   She explained how that daily pulse, that I just  mentioned, of two and a half thousand employees,   coupled with the analysis of that  collaboration data, has really helped   shape Microsoft's approach to hybrid work. 
 Certainly we have seen lots of stuff from   Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, talking about the  future of work and that we won't be going back   to what it was, prior to the pandemic. Which is  different from other CEO's that I could mention.  And then just before Christmas, Microsoft’s people  analytics leader, Dawn Klinghoffer, she had a   really fascinating article in Harvard Business  Review, which I really recommend anyone listening   to check out. During 2020 Microsoft saw a 13% fall  in employee satisfaction with work life balance.   So the people analytics team really dug into some  of the collaboration data and the survey data.  

Over several months, they identified that there  were three triggers of that. Over collaboration,   so similar to Uber. Lack of focus time,  similar to Uber. And not taking vacation.   So they rolled out three strategies, but  I think what is really good about these   three stressors is they didn't just communicate  this to employees, they actually made managers   accountable for it, to make sure that the change  that they were trying to affect was systemic.  So, that was around managers helping their  teams prioritise their work and accepting that,   if we are going to do this, what do you want  me to drop? Because we can't do everything.  

Which is quite a grown up conversation to have  in an organisation. Re-evaluating meetings.   Protecting focus time. And encouraging vacation. I think we can all probably think about how   beneficial vacation has been, even if you are  not leaving the house in the last two years,   it is just getting the break from the screen  and the grind of email and everything else.  I think that, that example does provided clues  on where employee listening could go in 2022   and beyond. That passive data increasingly  being incorporated into continuous listening   and if it is focused on benefiting employees,  as it has in the examples that I have mentioned,   it is going to be much easier to gain  support from privacy, info security,   works councils and employees. And I think that  is the challenge for people analytics teams   to make sure the work is directed around there. The potential is enormous, not only can it help  

companies maybe turn the supposed great  resignation, the other way round, but it can   help them with things like inclusion, wellbeing,  and collaboration too. And frankly, as I said   at the outset, business outcomes, better customer  outcomes, product development, all these sorts of   things. 
So I do think that employee listening is  going to be a huge focus going forward and there   is no coincidence that the co-creation we  are doing this year with clients of the   people analytics program, is employee listening  because we are getting so many questions about   it and so much interest. 
 So again, I don't know   what your thoughts are around employee  listening? Because I know it is a   topic we are all passionate about at Insight222. 
 I think the fact that things are changing so much   at the moment on such a constant basis and the  need to therefore listen more to employees,   although I think you could argue the need has  always been there, but I think companies have   recognised that need and have moved accordingly. 
 You mentioned inclusion but we have obviously seen  

a massive focus from organisations  around diversity, equity, inclusion,   belonging, all of these topics, really  surfacing in the last year as well.  How do you think that is evolving?  And, what do you think companies will   be doing differently to keep tackling that? 
 I think it is almost like companies are moving   now beyond rhetoric to action. I think people  analytics is playing a huge role in enabling that   shift, which is about time, frankly. Again, let me refer back to our people.  

analytics trend research. Perhaps the finding that  bought the warmest glow to several of us, was that   when we asked those companies the top three areas  where people analytics is adding value, it was   diversity, equity and inclusion that emerged as  the top area. With 54% of companies placing it   in the top three. I think it was 22% last year, if  I remember my numbers. That is a massive increase   and I think, the evidence of the business value  of diversity and inclusion continues to mount up.  

You factor in employee expectations, the catalyst  provided by the social injustice movement in 2020,   and the capability that people analytics provides,   from the help companies go from just  counting numbers to understanding inclusion,   doing lots of work around pay equity and  belonging. And maybe it is not a surprise   that there is more focus and success in this  area and it maybe brings you know back, to   what potentially could be the broader societal  benefit that people analytics and HR can bring.  There is diversity, equity, and inclusion. You  could add hybrid work and mental health to that.  

Complex topics are increasingly important  to CEOs and chief people officers,   and they require a deep understanding of the  workforce and evidence. Which is why people   analytics is so critical and perhaps one of the  reasons why people analytics is growing so much.  So, yeah, I would expect that  to continue again in 2022. 

Yeah, absolutely. And I think one thing that we  have also really seen evolve this year, is just   the ability for people to have a voice on those  issues, more on those companies to be listening.   I think what we are seeing as part of that,  is a change again, in the way that people are   thinking about their employees and what employees  want from work and from the experience of work.  And if we think about that and how HR technology  is playing into that, we have already talked to a   little bit about this, but we have seen the HR  technology market really increase in terms of   value and adoption, in the last few years. Now,  seeing quite a few unicorns, actually starting   to see, not surprisingly, quite a few mergers  and acquisitions happening this year as well. 

What is your prediction for how we will see the  HR technology market continue to grow and is it   around this theme of employee experience that we  will see driving that, or do you think there are   other things that that will impact that? 
 One thing I should have said around   diversity and inclusion actually related to  technology and analytics is, you are looking   at some of the collaborations data, you can start  to understand inclusion in teams. 
You can start   to understand inclusion of new hires and stuff  like that. And I think that is one of the drivers   that is certainly growing HR technology. But yeah, 2021, wow. What a phenomenal year.   According to one report I saw, I think it was from  Jason Corsello at Arcadian, VC investment is set   to top 15 billion in 2021, which is 300%  increase apparently on the year before.   
So, I think it is pretty safe to say  there will be more investment next year. 

We saw some consolidation in 2021. Peakon was  acquired by Workday. Emsi and Burning Glass,   two companies I know that you know well, merged.  So I think we will see more consolidation   in 2022. It seems like there is a lot  of very successful, small to medium  

technology companies now, they are getting a lot  of traction, they got quite a lot of investment   in 2021 so the big boys and big girls  will be around looking to snap them up.  And I think the areas to watch. Anything skills  related, so that external labour market data,   the talent marketplace, technologies that  actually help skills inference and maybe help   companies then use that data and  recoup some of the investment they   made in some of the other technologies,  that they bought over previous years.  I think employee listening. We saw a  lot last year, I mentioned Peakon SAP,   Qualtrics. We have seen other movements in that  area too, obviously we saw LinkedIn buy Glint,   a few years ago. These companies are being very  successful. Culture Amp got more investment,  

Perceptyx got more investment. Medallia has  emerged as a technology in that space. 
So   I think we will see them  increasingly incorporating   passive data into the offering, whether that  is through acquisition or whether that is   through products, I guess we will wait and see. Again, that organisational network analysis space   has threatened to take off for years, so maybe  2022 will be the year that finally happens. 
  But Ian, I am going to turn  this back to you because again,   you have studied the HR tech market for a long  time. Initially as a buyer and then you actually  

analysed the market for a while and obviously  part of what you are doing at Insight222, one of   the many things you are doing at Insight222,  is making sure you understand that market   well, so I would love to hear what you think? 
 Yeah. I obviously agree with everything you have   said. I think the only thing I would add really  is, I think what we have seen from the increase in   different types of HR technology, particularly  some of the newer point solutions that people   are plugging in, is we now have even more data  than we have ever had before. 
You could argue  

the problem a few years back, particularly  when I was spending more time on this,   was that we just didn't have a lot of data  on people. We were really just relying on   those core HR systems and they didn't really  have much of any interest, to do a lot with.  Now, it is completely different. There is an  abundance of data that we are generating all   the time, all of these new tools and technologies  are enabling companies to build those datasets. I  

would say, what is next is, how do we use that  data, understand that data, but ultimately use   that data to make people's lives better. It is  the “what's in it for me” side of things. And   what I am not talking about is, what can the  people analytics team do with the data, which I   know they are starting to spend more time on, but  it is really, how do these tools start to build   actual usability and functionality into their  platforms that mean you are not looking at   reports about how many meetings you are in, but  actually there is something happening as a result,   more on the recommendation side. We hear people  all the time say, it should be more like Netflix.   It should be more like Spotify. And I think it  has become a bit of a trite statement, I guess.   
But the reality is when you think about  a lot of the technologies you do use   the, the amount of data that they are looking at  and then using that behind the scenes to then do   something, and we could argue sometimes they even  get it wrong, but it is quite phenomenal and I   just don't think we are at that stage at work yet.  Really it is still very rudimentary, in terms of  

the types of analysis and insights that we are  getting back as users of these technologies.  And so for me, I think that is the  area that I am most excited about now   and how that is going to play out.
 Yes, I think you are right and actually how   better to benefit the people than actually provide  the data for employees and making it usable   for them to actually do something with it. 
 And make it better for their experience at work,   to find a job, to find training,  to manage their careers, and just   ultimately have a better experience at work. Okay, so you always give me a bit of a hard   time on the podcast, David, about how I am going  to cut you off and whether we are keeping the   episodes to time or not. So I am going to play  that role now, particularly as I am actually  

getting to interview you and say that we are  nearing the end of time. And so we have just   got a couple more questions to get into today. One is really around the need for HR to upskill,   be more data-driven, be more digital. Obviously  this is something we have talked about a lot and   you know that I spend a lot of time working on  this for Insight222, but I think we are seeing a   shift here. You have cited some of the information  from the survey around the appetite now for CHROs,  

for HR to change. And we are seeing more of a  push coming from a lot of different organisations.  What are you seeing from your conversations  with HR leaders around this and what is   your prediction for how it might evolve?
 I think for all the reasons that we have   talked about, the increase from the C-suite during  the pandemic, for people data and insights. More   focus on inclusion and wellbeing. Understanding  what hybrid work is going to be in each company.   The desire for HR to be data-driven now  is high and there is that delta between   what the CHRO is mandating versus the  reality at the moment. And I suppose  

that the prediction is we will start to close  that gap, hopefully quite significantly in 2022.  From the research and conversations we have had  with leaders on the podcast, and actually in the   research we identified three interlocking elements  that all need to be managed together to drive that   data driven culture. 
Number one, you need to  invest in your people analytics function. That   is people, that is skills, that is technology,  but it is also the productisation we talked about   earlier, to scale and put stuff in the hands  of managers and employees, as you just said.  Two, embed data driven decision making across HR  and managers. Well, how do you do that? Yes, we   can support, we can upskill HR professionals, that  is an important part of it, but you can't do that   on its own. And yes, that is not training  people to be data analysts necessarily,   that is helping them be more data  literate and improve their consulting,   influencing, and storytelling skills. Also, by  democratising data across the company, investing  

in technologies that are accessible, easy to  use, user-friendly as we have talked about.  It is a change, so we have got to invest in  supporting that change management process in HR,   clear communications from the CHRO,  it is celebrating success. Again,   referring because maybe it was  one of the more recent episodes,   Anshul Sheopuri at IBM, was saying to celebrate HR  professionals that embody a data-driven culture,   at meetings that the CHRO is hosting or at all  hands. Show the way that it is incentivising   that career journey for HR professionals,  that this is something that is going to help,   not just in their careers, but in their day-to-day  work as well. So I think that is really important.  And then if we can start to be better at  demonstrating the business value. So that   was the third thing we found. Calculating  the ROI from a people analytics perspective,  

I guess which means working with finance at  the outset of a piece of work and agreeing   how are you going to measure value. Really  interacting with the stakeholders in the business,   not just stakeholders in HR. And doing it together  with HR business partners and then communicating   the value of data-driven HR across the company. So Microsoft have a hashtag, #data-drivenHR, which   they do to communicate any story about people  analytics. That is really nice and simple. We   have had others on the show, again, I go back to  Alexis Saussinan at Merck, talking about how they   do that. They set the expectations. They provide  the tools. They develop communities of practice   and recognise it is a journey, it is not something  you can just give someone a training course and   a week later they are data-driven HR professional. But it is not just data, that is the thing. 

No it is not. And I think that point you just  made then around, yes, training is going to play   a role here. There is a lot of capability  building that needs to happen, new skills.   And data is one that is pretty new for HR,  not many people got into HR because they liked   dealing with data. And so to your point,  that it is not going to happen overnight,   this is a multi-year journey for HR but I think  there is a lot of other areas to throw into that   mix. Understanding the impact of digital, really  getting into that employee experience piece is  

really still so new and taking a more user centric  design approach to everything that we do in HR.  And then I think it is the communication of  all of this back to the business as well.   You have talked a little bit about  it, but the stakeholder management   really understanding the business and really  being able to tell a story about what is going on   and make sure that that drives action that  ultimately adds value to the business. 
  So I think those are some of the areas that we  are seeing all come together. I am sure more  

are going to get added over time, of course. The  fact that HR is now focusing a bit more on itself,   I think is great as well, and not just  focusing on the skills of the organisation.  But I do think it's a multi-year journey.  It is a big shift for the function   and we are only just getting started,  but it does feel like the appetite   is now really bubbling up and people are seeing  more of a need for it, which I think is great. 

Okay, so last question to bring us home on  this. When you posted your predictions out   on LinkedIn, we have seen as I said, a massive  number of comments and discussion going on,   which is always great to see. But you actually  invited others to add their own predictions,   of which we have seen many too. When you looked  through all of that and with everything else   that we have been discussing today, is there  anything else you would like to add around   what you are going to see evolve for the role  of HR and organisations in the future? And   particularly highlight any of the things  that the community have added as well. 
  Yes. The first thing to say is a huge thank you  to everyone that has taken the time to contribute   a suggestion. There are numerous on there.  I never would have thought there would be as  

many as they are and most of the ideas are  actually really good as well and actually frankly,   much better than my predictions, so it is going  to be quite hard to choose the two that I add   to the list. Which makes me think maybe I  should crowdsource everything next year.  I think what they do and I think  what we have talked about as well,   is that HR has been on a long journey from a  function that was focused on compliance, process,   standardisation, and intuition, to one that is  going to be, and already is in some cases, focused   instead on skills, products, personalisation, and  data. As you said, that is not a, this week we are   a compliance based function but next week we are a  product based function, so that is a long journey.  I think that has accelerated since the start  of the pandemic. The pandemic has elevated   he role of the HR function and we can see that  from all the work that we do, we can see that from   a lot of suggestions and comments on the article.  Particularly where those functions are well led,  

they are already data-driven,  have good people analytics teams,   invest in those people analytics teams, they  are focused on creating personalised experience,   and they are focused as well, actually  on having an impact on business outcomes   which I think is the big leap that  HR generally, still has to make.  That actually extends probably to the broader  societal areas that we talked about, like   inclusion, but also climate and sustainability.  That was certainly a suggestion a few had made.   HR has got a real big role to play here, not  just to help the organisation achieve its goals,   but actually to make sure the  organisation is listening to employees who   are increasingly quite active about this and they  want to work for companies that are actually good   for the climate and actually care about it. 
 And actually that kind of leads to a couple of  

suggestions I have pulled out and these are the  ones that I can remember, off the top of my head.  So again, Diane Gherson former IBM chief  human resources officer. Her suggestion   was related to that. How will HR cope  with these increased employee activism?   Particularly in the US where this is happening,  where maybe they don't have those works councils   and the employee representative groups in place.  She highlights this as a challenge for HR and I   think it is, but it is one that HR should embrace  because it could almost help be the collective   voice of the employee, on these topics. 
 And then our friend Dave Ulrich, I have to   mention Dave because he has been on the podcast,  I think more times than any other guest. He  

suggested that, HR needs to shift to an increased  focus on outcomes rather than activities. I think   a lot of what we have talked about over the last  50 minutes or so, actually plays to that. 
But   I think there is still quite a long way to go. And actually, what is quite interesting. I don't   if you look at the Edelman Trust Barometer,  which is quite well-respected in business.  

Last year for the first time, they claim the  employees are now the most important stakeholder   to a businesses success, more important than  customers, more important than shareholders and   I think it is not hard to see that this creates  a huge opportunity for HR. Maybe also shows why   HR is arguably the most exciting place to work  in business. So, I am confident HR can rise to   these increased expectations. 
It will take  time and there are some great examples out   there and hopefully we highlight some  of them on the podcast every week. 
  Yeah, absolutely. Well, what a great place to  finish, David. I agree, I think a very exciting   future ahead for HR and hopefully we will see  a lot of your predictions play out in 2022. 

So that just leaves me to say, happy new year. It  has been a delight putting you on the spot today   and looking forward to the year ahead. 
 And thanks for going easy on me, Ian. And   for anyone listening, we will put  links to some of the research so   if people want to delve into  that themselves, they can.  Happy new year to all the listeners  and happy New year to you as well, Ian.

2022-01-14 21:49

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