Data insights to drive sustainable transformation

  • Posted on April 5, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

This article was originally written by Avanade alum Bart-Jan Bosch and Mirjam van Olst.

This is the second blog in a series that I am writing with Mirjam van Olst about Avanade’s people focused and data-driven employee experience and how this has evolved since the start of the pandemic for Avanade Netherlands.

Listen to your employees
In her last blog, Mirjam van Olst talked about the impact of remote working on the day-to-day operations within Avanade from her perspective as COO. And while we were quickly able to cope with remote working from a technical perspective, the people perspective required us to listen more closely than ever to our employees and rethink our Employee Value Proposition.

Companies that listen to their employees and focus on a great employee experience have proven to be more successful than their peers. In a study done by Willis Towers Watson (Better employee experience proven to drive financial success) they identified a clear correlation between a company’s Employee Experience and their financial performance. We have seen similar results in a study conducted by Avanade in 2020 where this was even more apparent after COVID-19 hit. Our research shows that companies in the top 20% of Workplace Experience scores have outperformed their peers during the COVID-19 crisis, achieving an improved median stock price difference of 112.29%.

Data insights
At Avanade we run our regular ALLI (Avanade Listens Learns and Improves) employee surveys. This helps us shape our strategy by providing our employees the opportunity to reflect on their experience at Avanade, share what is going well, what isn’t and where we can improve. Our leaders then listen and act on this feedback. Recently we have added data insights from Workplace Analytics to further improve our understanding of how our employees are adapting to the new ways of working. This combination has proven to be very valuable in shaping our new Employee Value Proposition.

Microsoft Workplace Analytics aggregates and anonymizes workplace data and provides analytics that show how our employees are collaborating and communicating. When your people use collaboration tools like chat, email, and calendar, they generate a “digital exhaust” that is captured in the Microsoft Graph.

Data at face value
When we look at the data at face value, we can observe information about meetings, working hours and teamwork. What we saw (not surprisingly) is that a lot of our colleagues are in back-to-back video calls most of the day. At first, that may seem like a productive day. In reality, the lack of focus time (uninterrupted blocks of 2-3 hours to get work done) actually decreases productivity.

A study of Gloria Mark, a professor at the university of California, shows it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after an interruption. I have now asked Cortana, the Microsoft digital assistant, to schedule regular focus time blocks of two hours in my agenda automatically.

Another insight was that 25% of Avanade employees structurally work at least 8 hours per week extra outside of regular office hours. These insights, together with our ALLI surveys have led to our flexible workweek pilot that Mirjam mentioned in her last blog.

Team comparisons
We also use Workplace Analytics to compare the behaviours of different groups to learn what sets apart high performing teams. A Microsoft study on “what great managers do daily” shows the importance of regular one-on-ones between managers and their team to keep employees engaged. Workplace Analytics can provide insights into the engagement between managers and their teams and help leaders and their teams to grow.

At Avanade, we also combined these Workplace Analytics engagement insights with other HR and project data sources to quantify the risk of unmanaged attrition. By combining multiple sources of data, we are now able to predict the unmanaged attrition rate for a team with 95% accuracy.

From insights to behavioural change
The true value of these insights comes when employees use it to change their behaviour for the better. At Avanade, our next step is to use nudge theory to influence the decision making of groups or individuals. To do this, we developed a nudge engine directly into Microsoft Teams to not only identify moments that matter, but to also make it easy to do the right thing. As mentioned earlier, we know from the data that teams that have regular one-on-ones with their manager are generally more engaged and successful. Our nudge engine can present the manager with an adaptive card in the flow of work showing the team members that have not had a one-on-one in the last two weeks. With one click a one-on-one can be scheduled at a time that fits both.

The workplace analytics data can be a very powerful source to continuously improve the employee experience. Both from a productivity as well as from a wellbeing perspective. We use this data, not to judge our employees but to better support and inspire them.

Let’s connect
If you are interested in discussing how Avanade is dealing with the changes of the last year, both from a people perspective as well as from a tooling perspective, please leave a comment or contact us and we'll set up a no-strings-attached session with myself and Mirjam van Olst, our Avanade COO.

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