The best HR & People Analytics articles of 2023 (Part 1 of 2)

2024年01月12日 833次浏览

Ten years ago, I stumbled upon an idea of collating a year-end compendium of 20 people analytics and data-driven HR articles from the previous 12 months and publishing it on LinkedIn.

Back then it was a challenge to find 20 articles. Today, it is an even bigger challenge to limit myself to 60 articles - such has been the growth of people analytics in the last decade. Indeed, as I reminisced by reading the nine collections to date for 2014, 2015, 2016 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 (Part 1 and Part 2), it became abundantly clear that the development in the field has been staggering.

The progress of people analytics has been mirrored by the human resources field in general as it transforms from a support function to a strategic partner. As I wrote in my article, 12 Opportunities for HR in 2024, the field has a huge opportunity to lead the way to a more productive, inclusive, healthier, and humane future of work. People analytics needs to play a pivotal role in this mission.

The 60 articles are assembled into two instalments: Part 1, which follows here has the first five sections: i) the future of work and people strategy, ii) workplace design and strategy, iii) AI and the world of work, iv) people analytics, and v) employee experience, listening and wellbeing. Part 2 has the second group of five topics: vi) the evolution of HR, HR operating models and the CHRO, vii) building a data driven culture in HR, viii) workforce planning, skills, and talent marketplace, ix) leadership and culture, and x) diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

I hope you enjoy reading the selections for 2023. If you do, please subscribe to my weekly Digital HR Leaders newsletter, which is published every Tuesday via Insight222, and tune in to the Digital HR Leaders podcast.


MCKINSEY - The State of Organizations 2023: Ten shifts transforming organizations

Let’s start with what’s on the mind of CEOs and business leaders. Research from McKinsey identified ten of the most important organisational shifts that businesses need to address today (see FIG 1), which are likely to shape business and people strategy in the coming years. A significant takeaway is how many of the ten shifts are either primarily a talent topic or one where talent is a significant element. This reinforces the importance of an effective HR function that is focused on employee experience, premised on developing a thriving, inclusive and healthy culture, and powered by people data and analytics. (Authors: Dr. Patrick Guggenberger, Dana Maor, Michael Park, and Dr. Patrick Simon).

Getting organizations right is not just about individual companies and institutions; it’s about the broader well-being of society.

FIG 1: Ten shifts transforming organisations (Source: McKinsey)

DIANE GHERSON – The New Deal of Work | SHRM PEOPLE + STRATEGY - Rethinking Work and the Workplace

Diane Gherson guest edits the fall edition of People + Strategy magazine, articulating in her   editor’s preface that: “New work models, new business requirements and new employee expectations are coming together at full speed, putting at risk our status quo arrangements in the organization—and even the role and scope of HR.” These themes flow through all of the articles in the edition including: (1) David Rock on what neuroscience can teach us about the tug of war between employers and employees on the return to office debate. (2) Josh Bersin examining the implications of “blowing up” the traditional model for full-time long-term employees (see FIG 2). (3) RJ Milnor presents four questions for CHROs about the growth of fractional work and its impact on talent strategy. (4) Judith Wiese explaining how Siemens replaced performance reviews with a new concept built on dialogues focused on growth.

New work models, new business requirements and new employee expectations are coming together at full speed, putting at risk our status quo arrangements in the organization—and even the role and scope of HR.

FIG 2: Creating a Strategic Workforce Plan (Source: Josh Bersin)

BCG AND THE WORLD FEDERATION OF PEOPLE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATIONS - Creating People Advantage 2023: Set the Right People Priorities for Challenging Times Article | Full Report

BCG’s bi-annual Creating People Advantage is consistently one of the best studies in our field. Two findings that stand out from the 2023 report are: (1) Only 35% of HR professionals agree that their company’s people management function is using relevant digital technologies. (2) Just 30% say that HR is using data and analytics to anticipate people challenges. This is despite People and HR strategy, planning, and analytics, being ranked as the #1 future people management topic (see FIG 3). The report also outlines five recommendations for people management leaders: (1) Leverage data to accurately plan for talent supply and demand. (2) Get better at talent acquisition. (3) Invest in upskilling and reskilling the current workforce. (4) Unlock value through AI. (5) Focus on change management and organizational development. (Authors: Jens Stefan Baier, Vinciane Beauchene, Julie Bedard, Jean-Michel Caye, Dr. Philipp Kolo, Fang Ruan, Alexander Alonso, PhD SHRM-SCP, Anthony Ariganello, Kai H. Helfritz, Bob Morton, Chartered CCIPD, Lucas van Wees, and Wilson Wong.)

FIG 3: Ranking of future importance of nine people management topics (Source: BCG)

ADAM GRANT AND TE-PING CHEN - What CEOs Are Getting Wrong About the Future of Work—and How to Make It Right

In an interview with Te-Ping Chen of The Wall Street Journal, Adam Grant cites research on how employee performance and retention improves in a hybrid environment to urge leaders to experiment more when it comes to testing new ways of working. Grant advises leaders to think like scientists when making decisions: “Every opinion you hold at work is a hypothesis waiting to be tested. And every decision you make is an experiment waiting to be run.” He also explains how employees can catalyse change from within and highlights the promise of the four-day week - a concept Grant has long championed: “Every experiment I have seen on reducing work hours suggests that people are as productive, if not more productive. I’d much rather have people do six focused hours a day or four focused days a week than eight distracted hours or five unmotivated days.

So many leaders just implement decisions. It is like life is an A/B test, but they just ran with the A, and didn’t even realize that there was a possible B, C, D, and E. Too many leaders feel like their decisions are permanent. As opposed to saying, “We’re going to test and learn.”

ELIZABETH J. ALTMAN, DAVID KIRON, JEFF SCHWARTZ, AND ROBIN JONES - Manage Your Workforce Ecosystem, Not Just Your Employees

In their article based on their book – Workforce Ecosystems, Elizabeth J. Altman, David Kiron, Jeff Schwartz, and Robin Jones, introduce the concept of an integrated workforce ecosystem. They highlight the three types of issues that need to be resolved: (1) Structural design (concerned with the division of labour, goals, and incentives). (2) Politics (relating to resources, power, and status). (3) Culture (affecting individuals’ search for identity and meaning). They then present a four phased approach to effectively orchestrate a workforce ecosystem (see FIG 4) and provide additional guidance on each phase. For more on this topic, tune in to Elizabeth and Robin on an episode of the Digital HR Leaders podcast: How to Build a Thriving Workforce Ecosystem.

FIG 4: Four Phases of Orchestrating an Integrated Workforce Ecosystem (Source: Elizabeth J. Altman, David Kiron, Jeff Schwartz, and Robin Jones)

DELOITTE - Beyond productivity: The journey to the quantified organization

A quantified organization takes a strategic approach to measuring what it should, not just what it can. It takes a responsible approach to using new data sources and AI tools to create value for stakeholders across the organization, improving workforce trust and driving the organization forward to new levels of financial, reputational, and operational performance.

This Deloitte report is divided into three sections: (1) New data, New Opportunities (2) Creating Shared Value with Data (based around four levels of shared value for individuals, teams, the organisation, and society - see FIG 5), and (3) Trust (based on four principles of responsibility). (Authors Arthur Mazor, Steve Hatfield, Philippe Burger, Simona Spelman, Nicole Scoble-Williams, and Robin Jones)

FIG 5: Four levels of Shared Value (Source: Deloitte)

PLACID JOVER - The Future of Work is Flexible

Placid Jover presents three innovations Unilever is making to embrace a move from owning to accessing talent. (1) The Skills Passport (“As companies jostle to build a complete picture of what they need and how to get there, we’re fast learning that the real currency is skills”). (2) The Internal Talent Marketplace (“We have already seen a 40% increase in productivity and a significant reduction in attrition directly linked to Flex Experiences”). (3) The Pixelated Workforce (“Breaking down work into its core elements or “pixels”, then dividing those up between permanent staff and contractors, with the AI recommending teams or individuals for missions based on how they work with others as well as how they perform”). For more from Placid, I recommend listening to: How Unilever is Creating New Ways of Working for Its Employees.

As companies jostle to build a complete picture of what they need and how to get there, we’re fast learning that the real currency is skills



Data increasingly shows a growing divide in terms of who gets to work from home. In their HBR article, Peter John Lambert, Nick Bloom, Steven J. Davis, Stephen Hansen, Yabra Muvdi, Raffaella Sadun, and Bledi Taska, Ph.D. present research on job postings, which finds remote work is far more common for higher paid roles, those that require more experience, are full-time, and require more education. Managers should be aware of this divide, as it has the potential to create toxic dynamics within teams and to sap morale. For more from Nick Bloom, tune in to his conversation with me on the Digital HR Leaders podcast: Unmasking Common Myths Around Remote Work, and check out the latest monthly data at WFH Research.

FIG 6: Work-from-home opportunities are more common for highly-paid jobs (Source: Lambert, Bloom et al)

LYNDA GRATTON - Redesigning How We Work

In the follow-up to her seminal How to Do Hybrid Right article, Lynda Gratton cautions that the post-pandemic transition to new structures, practices and processes for hybrid work will take years. Indeed, the changes to workplace practices and norms will likely be more significant than anything that has happened in generations. Lynda offers four fundamental questions to guide organisations into this new phase of redesigning how we work: (1) What are our overarching values and principles? (2) What is special about the people we employ, the job we do, and the customers we serve? (3) What isn’t working, and what are the problems we’re trying to solve? (4) What experiments have we tried that we can share with others, and what are other companies doing that we can learn from?

Now that we know the transition to hybrid work will require a long period of constant experimentation and learning, companies should gather and analyze high-quality data if they want to understand what they’re learning, how work is getting done, and how employees are feeling.

MICHAEL ARENA - Effective Strategies for Intentional Collaboration in the New World of Work

Michael Arena discusses effective strategies for intentional collaboration in the modern workplace. He introduces the concept of Adaptive Teaming, which involves dynamically forming and restructuring teams to meet specific project needs. Four intentional collaboration modes are identified. (1) Discovery encourages knowledge exploration and idea generation. (2) Development focuses on individual and collective skill growth. (3) Diffusion promotes effective communication and knowledge sharing. (4) Delivery ensures efficient project execution. By incorporating these modes, Michael articulates how organisations can enhance adaptive teaming practices and succeed in the evolving world of work.

Adaptive teaming is a collaborative approach in which teams intentionally come together, shift, and reform based on the specific needs and challenges of a project or task.

MICROSOFT - In the Changing Role of the Office, It’s All about Moments That Matter

When does in-person matter? That was one of the key research questions Dawn Klinghoffer told me that her team was helping Microsoft to answer when she appeared on the Digital HR Leaders podcast towards the end of 2022 (see How Microsoft Created A Thriving Workforce By Going Beyond Employee Engagement). A few months on, the research highlighted three key times when bringing employees and teams together in person creates lasting connection at Microsoft: (1) Strengthening team cohesion. (2) Onboarding to a new role, team, or company (see FIG 7). (3) Kicking off a project. The article provides data points and examples of each with contributions from Karen Kocher, Jared Spataro and Maryleen Emeric Leal, with the latter providing a memorable analogy on the power of in-person time:

You have to think of your social capital like a battery. The longer you go without having in-person interaction, the lower the charge gets on your battery. These moments that matter—like a team week—allow us to recharge the battery.

FIG 7: Meeting In-Person Has Clear Benefits for New Hires


MICROSOFT WORK TREND INDEX – Will AI Fix Work? | KATHLEEN HOGAN - Microsoft’s Chief People Officer shares how AI will impact workers

Microsoft presents three key findings related to the question: ‘Will AI Fix Work?’ (1) Digital debt is hindering innovation, with organisations struggling to fully leverage AI technologies due to outdated systems and processes e.g. the study finds workers spend two full days a week on email and in meetings. (2) There is a shift towards a new AI-employee alliance, where employees see AI as a tool for augmentation rather than replacement. (3) Every employee needs AI aptitude, highlighting the importance of upskilling and fostering a culture of AI literacy to empower employees to effectively collaborate with AI technologies. Kathleen Hogan distils this into three elements to realise the benefits of AI for employees quickly: fostering an agility-based culture, reimagining how we work, and investing in deeper human skills.

AI is the defining technology of our time, creating a massive paradigm that will transform the way we work with even greater impact than the introduction of the PC

FIG 8: AI’s Productivity Promise (Source: Microsoft Work Trends)

BCG - How Generative AI Will Transform HR

“Generative AI has done what no other technology trend has: accelerate HR’s engagement with artificial intelligence.” BCG highlights three key areas for HR in relation to generative AI: (1) How GAI can transform HR into a more strategic function through increased self-service, enhancements to employee productivity and experience, personalisation of HR programs, and using skills data to power the talent ecosystem. (2) Its potential to deliver a 30% increase in productivity across the employee lifecycle (see FIG 9). (3), The dual role for HR leaders in driving generative AI transformation – for the enterprise and for the HR function itself. (Authors: Julie Bedard, Katie Lavoie, Renée Laverdière, Allison Bailey, Vinciane Beauchene, and Jens Stefan Baier.

Executive teams are looking to HR to be a deeper, more insightful partner throughout the business.

FIG 9: The potential of Generative AI to deliver productivity gains across the employee lifecycle (Source: BCG)

MERCER - Generative AI will transform three key HR roles

Generative AI (GAI) is set to reshape the HR function with a study by Mercer finding that 58% of firms plan to use GAI in HR by 2024. The article reimagines three HR roles – HRBPs, the L&D specialist and the Total Rewards leader - to highlight the impact of GAI. The study estimates that 36% of the HRBP role could be augmented or replaced - generating potential savings of $30,000 per annum. The authors debate the broader opportunity for GAI (see FIG 10) and makes the critical point that instead of seeing GAI as a tool to reduce headcount, HR leaders should instead look to develop an optimal blend of human and tech to reimagine the HR function of the future. (Authors: Ravin Jesuthasan, CFA, FRSA, Helen White, Kate Bravery, Jason Averbook, and Todd Lambrugo).

Generative AI may not cause job reductions, but there is no doubt that HR professionals who use it will be more in demand than those who don’t.

FIG 10: The changing nature of work and the transformative role of generative AI (Source: Mercer)

ANDREW MARRITT AND DAVID GREEN - The Impact of GPT and Generative AI Models on People Analytics | ANDREW MARRITT - GPT for People Analytics: Four concepts you need to know

Two articles featuring Andrew Marritt on the role of generative AI in people analytics. In the first article, Andrew and I explore what GPT models are, where they will be used in people analytics, the importance of training data, the weaknesses of LLMs, and more. While in the second article, Andrew highlights four concepts people analytics professionals need to know: i) Prompting (“the best way of finding a good prompt is by experimentation”), ii) Context Windows, iii) Fine Tuning, and iv) Embeddings.

The big shift for most PA teams is that using these large language models really requires engineering skills over traditional data science skills


INSIGHT222 - Investing to Deliver Value: A New Model for People Analytics | Article | Full Report | Diagnostic

The key findings of the fourth annual Insight222 People Analytics Trends study, which was informed by a survey of 271 global companies were: (1) People analytics continues to grow despite a challenging global economy. (2) Measuring and delivering value, from people analytics efforts, is key for the impact of the function. (3) Developing relationships with C-suite and senior stakeholders is essential to deliver on key business priorities. (4) There are eight defined characteristics that Leading Companies display to create impact (see FIG 11). Kudos to my colleagues and authors of the report: Jonathan Ferrar, Naomi Verghese, and Heidi Binder-Matsuo, as well as the practitioners who contributed case studies: Jane Puckey, James Reynolds, Sharon Doherty (she/her), Alan Susi, Jaesun HA, Laura Wright Shubert, and Eden Britt.

FIG 11: The eight characteristics of Leading Companies. Source: Insight222 People Analytics Trends Report 2023

THOMAS RASMUSSEN, MIKE ULRICH, AND DAVE ULRICH - Moving People Analytics From Insight to Impact

While I wouldn’t normally include a resource that isn’t open access in this compendium, I’m making an exception for this must-read paper by Thomas Hedegaard Rasmussen, Mike Ulrich and Dave Ulrich, which can be accessed for a very worthwhile fee of £29.00. The abstract to the paper (see below), which can be considered a follow up to the seminal paper, authored by Thomas and Dave, which was published in 2015: How HR analytics avoids being a management fad, provides a compelling narrative.

HEIN KNAPPEN - Boosting Growth: How People Analytics Elevates Enterprise Value

Hein J.M. Knaapen, formerly chief human resources officer at ING and now Managing Partner, Europe at, provides a compelling narrative on the profound impact of people analytics on business success. Hein sets out that when used effectively, people analytics (1) Uncovers strategic opportunities driven by effective people management. (2) Provides actionable insights into performance challenges. (3) Enhances employee engagement and productivity. (4) Establishes a robust link between business needs and HR solutions.

People analytics helps build a more solid bridge between business needs and HR interventions. It values evidence over assumptions. It moves HR professionals from supporting the overall business to providing specific, data-driven solutions to true business challenges.

PATRICK COOLEN - Establishing people analytics as a common practice (part I)

Patrick Coolen presents his model for people analytics (see FIG 12), which is based on his ten-year career as Head of People Analytics at ABN Amro and his recent Ph.D. research (see first paper). In the article, Patrick provides a deeper dive on the first component of his model - People Analytics FIT, where he emphasises that “To be successful in people analytics, having strategic fit or alignment is not enough.” As such, Patrick outlines three other areas in addition to Strategic FIT: Internal FIT, Organisational FIT, and Environmental FIT.  You can also read Part 2, where Patrick discusses the benefits of integrating evidence-based HR services as an important step in establishing people analytics as a common practice.

To be successful in people analytics, having strategic fit or alignment is not enough

FIG 12: Establishing People Analytics as a common practice (Source: Patrick Coolen)

ANGUS BAUER - Human capital management research: how people are our greatest asset ARTICLE | FULL REPORT

A fascinating study by Schroders, the Saïd Business School, and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), which sets out the case that: “human capital can act as a clear driver of company productivity and profitability and that companies with durable management frameworks create stronger returns and value for investors.Angus Bauer lays out the key findings in his article, including the top one: “Human capital is a critical source of competitive advantage and fundamental resilience.” The full report provides evidence, models, and visualisations to answer four key questions: (1) What is human capital and why should investors care? (2) How can we measure human capital and its effects on performance? (see FIG 13) (3) Can we assess the financial materiality of human capital? (4) How can organisations drive positive change in human capital management?

FIG 13: Source - Schroders

LEXY MARTIN – How People Analytics Unlocks Manager Effectiveness: The Next Driver of Value

A compelling report from Visier Inc. written by the incomparable Lexy Martin, which finds that data makes people managers more effective and more human while supporting them to deliver productivity and profitability. The report clocks in at 33 pages and is crammed full of insights and examples from several leaders including Dawn Klinghoffer, Eden Britt, Melissa Arronte, Matthew Hamilton, Anna Lena Fritzsche, and Michael Salva, Intriguingly, the report also provides a worked example of a 10k person organisation and the value that can be realised by successfully democratising people data to managers. The study finds that this amounts to $400 million in cost savings, and almost $200 million in revenue expansion (see FIG 14). For more, tune in to Lexy in discussion with me on the Digital HR Leaders podcast: How to Democratise Data for People Manager Effectiveness.

Data makes people managers more effective and more human while supporting them to deliver productivity and profitability.

FIG 14: Value table of savings and revenue (Source: Visier)

TINA PEETERS, KARINA VAN DE VOORDE, AND JAAP PAAUWE - The effects of working agile on team performance and engagement

Tina Peeters, PhD, Karina Van De Voorde, and Jaap Paauwe present their paper on agile ways of working, which won the outstanding paper award in the 2023 Emerald Literati Awards. The paper found that working agile improves psychological safety, which consequently increased engagement and performance.

MAX BLUMBERG - What to Avoid When Choosing a People Analytics Operating Model

A short but instructive article by Max Blumberg (JA) ?? on the key areas to consider when evaluating whether to implement a people analytics model including trust, investment and the extent of change management required.

Regulations continue to evolve - models that appear compliant today may not be tomorrow.

PEOPLE ANALYTICS PRACTITIONER COLLECTION: BEN TEUSCH - An incomplete starter's guide to attrition metrics | LAURA STEVENS - Playtime is over. Moving People Analytics beyond the hype. | AMIT MOHINDRA - Shapely Values: Game Theory in People Analytics | LYDIA WU - Seven Lessons I Learned About People Analytics | ADAM MCKINNON AND MARTHA CURIONI - Using AI to Make Better Promotion Decisions | STEVEN COMINGDEER – Integrating Data Science into Your People Analytics Function | GIOVANNA CONSTANT - - Can Synthetic Data Be the Ethical Game-Changer for People Analytics? | SCOTT REIDA - Zero-based workforce planning with ChatGPT in Tableau

2023 saw a growing number of people analytics leaders and practitioners writing about their work, which is to be celebrated as they typically act as a spur and inspiration for others in the field. Eight are showcased here: (1) Ben Teusch, part of Meta’s people analytics team, provides a helpful to attrition metrics (see FIG 15). (2) Laura Stevens PhD distils three critical abilities that provide the foundation to help people analytics teams establish credibility and enhance their impact including the ability to focus on the right problem (Does it relate to company strategy? Can we scale it?). (3) Amit Mohindra explores how people analytics can benefit from the connection between cooperative game theory and machine learning (4) As part of her excellent 'Oops, did I think that out loud' series of articles, Lydia Wu documents seven lessons she has learned from working in the people analytics field – my favourite is: “Stakeholders are more important than numbers”. (5) Adam McKinnon, PhD. and Martha Curioni outline how people data together with machine learning can play an important role in enhancing the conditions for minimising bias in decision making at all stages of the employee lifecycle. (6) Steven Comingdeer explains how Accenture has fully integrated data science skills and talent into its people analytics function, and the benefits it has provided. (7) Giovanna Constant discusses the practical advantages of applying synthetic data in People Analytics. (8) Scott Reida, provides a practical and open-source guide on zero-based workforce planning with inputs from ChatGPT and outputs in Tableau.

FIG 15: A guide to attrition metrics (Source: Ben Teusch)


AARON DE SMET, MARINO MUGAYAR-BALDOCCHI, ANGELIKA REICH, AND BILL SCHANINGER - Some employees are destroying value. Others are building it. Do you know the difference?

According to McKinsey, employee disengagement and attrition could cost a median-size S&P 500 company between $228 million and $355 million a year in lost productivity (see FIG 16). The authors (Aaron De Smet, Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi, Angelika Reich, and Bill Schaninger, Ph.D.) then demonstrate how by segmenting employees into six archetypes across a spectrum of satisfaction, engagement, performance, and well-being, companies can re-engage workers, improve productivity, and amplify the impact of top performers.

FIG 16: The cost of employee attrition and disengagement (Source: McKinsey)

MICHAEL MANKINS, ERIC GARTON, AND DAN SCHWARTZ - Purposeful Work: The Secret Weapon in the New War for Talent

Writing for Bain, Michael C. Mankins, Eric Garton, and Dan Schwartz explain that the primary reason why employee attrition remains high and most employee retention strategies fail is because of a fundamental misunderstanding of what motivates most of us to work – namely meaning, purpose and engagement in what we do (see FIG 17). The authors outline three keys to purposeful work: (1) Make work interesting, (2) Connect jobs to the company’s mission, and (3) Build learning into work, and then describe each of these highlighting examples from Walmart, USAA and Shopify.

FIG 17: The Employee Value Pyramid (Source: Bain & Company)

TI PEOPLE - The APEX model: How organizations can systemically improve employee experience Website | Summary Report

I always learn from TI PEOPLE’s research and analysis on employee experience ever since the company was formed by Volker Jacobs in 2016. In their 2023 study, Stephanie Denino, André Fortange, Timo Tischer and Maris García, present the APEX (Activities driving the Practice of EX) model, which is comprised of 3 focus areas, 6 goals and 28 activities (see FIG 18). The model is designed to identify what it takes to improve EX in ways that are sustainable and replicable. Two important threads run through the model: being data-driven and human-centred. The report also covers big questions like “Is an EX leader essential?” and explains that guided by this model, EX leaders can bring about an EX-centric operating system in their organisations.

FIG 18: The APEX model for Employee Experience (Source: TI People)

NICK LYNN Listening Strategies and Conversation

The ever-thoughtful Nick Lynn presents a framework to support organisations looking to establish conversation as a key component of their culture and employee listening strategy (see FIG 19). As Nick explains, the issue leaders are trying to address when looking to adopt a continuous employee listening strategy is: “How do we build trust and encourage employee voice?” Nick’s model and article breaks this down and highlights how to reach the upper right ‘Conversation’ quadrant through focusing on the Why, the What, the When and the How, and by involving people to the max. I also recommend subscribing to Nick’s EX Leadership Newsletter.

FIG 19: Source: Nick Lynn

PHIL ARKCOLL - The Importance of Passive Listening

Philip Arkcoll of Worklytics extols the virtues of combining active listening (via surveys) with passive listening tools that allow forward-thinking organisations utilising both to understand the real-time behavioural drivers of employee attitudes. For more from Phil, tune in to his discussion with me on the Digital HR Leaders podcast: How to Successfully Lead the Return to Office.

FIG 20: A model for continuous employee listening (Source: Worklytics)

EMILY KILLHAM - The State of Employee Listening 2023 Article | Full Report

Emily Killham presents the second annual State of Employee Listening report by Perceptyx. Findings include: (1) Over 3 out of 5 leaders place a higher value on listening during a recession. (2) 70% of organisations studied now do some type of listening event at least once a quarter. (3) 7 in 10 organisations plan to further accelerate their listening over the next year. The report also presents the employee listening maturity model (see FIG 21), which has four types of approaches: Episodic listeners (20% of companies surveyed), Topical listeners (30%), Strategic listeners (27%), and Continuous conversationalists (23%).

FIG 21: Employee Listening Maturity (Source: Perceptyx)

ROB CROSS AND KAREN DILLON – The Hidden Toll of Microstress

Reading this article by Rob Cross and Karen Dillon gave me a real a-ha moment. It’s all about ‘microstress’ – small moments of stress that seem manageable on their own but compound over time. In this taster from their book, The Microstress Effect: How Little Things Pile Up and Create Big Problems — and What to Do About It, Cross and Dillon outline the science behind why microstress can be so debilitating and induce a ripple effect (see FIG 22), introduce 14 key microstresses that hold us back, and offer solutions and guidance for reducing microstresses in your life while maintaining your relationships. For more on this topic, listen to Rob and Karen on the Digital HR Leaders podcast: Empowering HR and People Analytics Leaders in Managing Microstress.

Microstresses may be hard to spot individually, but cumulatively they pack an enormous punch

FIG 22: The Ripple Effect of Microstress (Source: Rob Cross and Karen Dillon)

THOMAS ROULET AND KIRAN BHATTI - Well-Being Intelligence: A Skill Set for the New World of Work

According to data cited by Thomas Roulet and Kiran B. from the University of Cambridge, absence and mental health issues continue to rise in the workplace. They contend that this requires a greater focus on well-being and present their concept of well-being intelligence for managers as a skill set and tool to understand and improve their own and employees’ well-being (see FIG 23). The model summarises the core skill sets of well-being intelligence: (1) Identifying core mental health challenges, such as stress and anxiety; (2) Acknowledging their root causes; and (3) Designing approaches to address them at the individual, team, and organisational levels.

Organizations that promote well-being intelligence don’t just create a healthier and more productive workforce; they build a competitive advantage for the future.

FIG 23: The Overlapping Circles of Well-being Intelligence (Source: Thomas Roulet, Kiran Bhatti, MIT Sloan Management Review)


Following on from their companion piece With Burnout on the Rise, What Can Companies Do About It?, Dawn Klinghoffer and Katie Kirkpatrick-Husk PhD turn their attention to manager burnout. With more than 50% of managers experiencing burnout, this is a significant challenge that requires fixing. Dawn and Katie highlight some of the causes of manager burnout, the different ways it can be harmful and the impact of the three burnout dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and professional efficacy. The article also presents five ways to mitigate manager burnout: meaning, learning and career development, flexible work, psychological safety and support, and self-care.

When a manager is experiencing all three dimensions (exhaustion, cynicism, and professional efficacy), they are 5.3 times more likely to leave the company compared to a manager experiencing none.


Below is a selection of seven articles I penned or co-penned in 2023:

  • Four Elements to Building Data Literacy in HR at Scale - Data literacy is set to be the most in-demand skill in the workplace by 2030, with 85% of C-suite executives believing that being data-literate will be as important in the future as the ability to use a computer is today. This applies just as much for HR practitioners as it does to other business professionals. This article presents the key findings of research by Insight222 on four elements to building data literacy in HR at scale – plus links to access the full report.

52% of the companies we surveyed are using talent marketplaces and skills inference technologies to bring skills, learning, and careers together to create better mobility for employees and bridge talent gaps.

HR organisations that use AI well will have an advantage in the battle for talent. But to realise this potential, you will need to be well-managed and invest in governance.


Part 2 of my 60 best people analytics and HR articles of 2023 will be published as part of this newsletter next week (on January 14).


Thanks to all the authors and contributors featured here in Part 1, and also in Part 2 (available on January 14) as well as across the monthly collections from 2023 – see January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December - your passion, knowledge and expertise continues to inspire. Thanks also to my colleagues at Insight222, the guests and sponsors of the Digital HR Leaders Podcast in 2023 and the great many of you that share and engage with the content I share. It’s much appreciated. I wish you all well for a happy, healthy, and successful 2024.