Tom Haak: For Improving the Employee Experience HR Analytics are Key! #wfaforum

As you may notice from the language of today’s post – the interview series on our speakers at Workforce Analytics FORUM is going international! We are very happy to feature the answers of our keynote speaker Tom HaakDirector of the HR Trend Institute and listed on the HR Gurus A-Z List for Q4 2017 by CakeHR. He will give the opening talk at the Workforce Analytics FORUM and a wrap-up of the recent trends that drive HR Analytics.

In our interview we drew the line from the objectives to the needed prerequisites for the evolution of HR Analytics.

(1) Tom – you will be one of our keynote speaker at the Workforce Analytics FORUM. We asked you to share your insights on the latest trends in big data analytics in HR. Briefly – what can we expect?

Tom Haak: I am looking forward to speak at the Workforce Analytics FORUM. I will give an overview of the trends we see in big (and small) people data analytics in HR. Analytics are very important to improve the employee experience, and I will give examples of clever data gathering and analysis in the different legs in the employee journey. Man + machine + AI can improve life at work a lot! I will also talk about the limitations, as data and clever analytics are not enough.

(2) When we talk about trends in HR in a broader sense, is the Employee Experience approach the new overall objective to align all operative actions with?

Tom Haak: In the last decades the focus has shifted too much away from the employee. HR was more focused on pleasing the bosses, than on making sure the employees have a worthwhile positive experience. More employee intimacy is required. HR can learn a lot from marketing, where they are further ahead in developing the customer experience. Using data to get better insights in the individual expectations, requirements and wishes of customers and employees is key. Not one-size-fits all, but a tailored individual approach.

(3) What types of data do I need to measure and to support optimizing the overall employee experience? Where do I start?

Tom Haak: Start with asking very frequently how candidates and employees are experiencing the process. NPS (Net Promoter Score) is a very simple way to do this. Combine this with people data that is already available (like: ‚Who was the recruiter?“, „Who is the manager?“, „What is the personality profile?). Try to detect patterns. Add more data later, like the individual preferences of employees. When you are more sophisticated, you can add real time mood measurement tools (e.g. by analysing e-mails, or by organisational-network-analysis). Always be aware of privacy issues of course. Always be very transparent.

(4) Who do you see in charge for this analytics journey? Who should be involved? And needs to be on board to get the authority to gather all the data?

Tom Haak: You need several capabilities. IT, data analytics and HR domain expertise. Actuaries and econometrists usually are very valuable. HR, IT and Marketing should work closely together, as spreading scarce resources does not make sense. I see HR in the lead here. Some organisations have already appointed a Chief Employee Journey Officer.

(5) In other interviews with Thomas Faust and Daniel Mühlbauer the data-driven mindset in HR as a needed prerequisite was mentioned. Would you resonate with this? Or disagree and insist that an „Employee Experience“ objective will naturally lead to a data-driven and analytics approach?

Tom Haak: Yes, of course, a data driven mindset is a must. Of HR and management. A data and scientific mindset. Many scientific findings are not applied in the workplace. The psychological aspects should not be neglected. People should be willing to accept the outcomes of thorough analysis, even if the outcomes are counter-intuitive.

(6) In your last HR Trend Scan the adaptation of smart tech in HR was fairly low – therefore my polemical question: Is HR ignoring the signs of the times in moving towards a data-driven and scientific approach of HR management?

Tom Haak: Ignoring is strongly stated, but adaptation seems slow. Organisations are caught up in the traditional mental models. The heritage of Taylor is still very visible. Unfortunately new scale-ups are often trying to do what their big brothers are doing. On the bright side: there is a lot of room for improvement in most organisations, and we might reach a tipping point in the coming years.

(7) So what are your key recommendations for HR professionals that are being interested in going for a deeper dive into HR Analytics?

Tom Haak: My recommendations are the following:

1. Focus on burning business issues.
2. Don’t start to big.
3. Look what you can do with available data.
4. Make sure you have access to analytical capabilities.
5. Create surprising insights.
6. Work closely with Marketing and IT.

5 Steps to People Analytics (Source: HR Trend Institute /

(8) What are your expectation for our upcoming event?

I am looking forward to learn a lot at the event, meet some old friends and connect to new people.

We like to thank Tom Haak for this interesting interview.

Meet Tom Haak at the Workforce Analytics FORUM on 18 April in Frankfurt and register your ticket today!

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