How to improve employee experience the Google way
Est. Read Time: 3 min.
For the 10th year in a row, Google has landed a top spot on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list. No surprise there, right? With benefits such as free chef-prepared meals, an onsite beauty salon and nap pods, it’s no wonder Google is consistently recognized for their top-notch employee experience. But Google’s experience factor isn’t due to a bottomless benefits budget. In fact, the company takes a highly analytical approach to determining exactly which benefits and perks will make a difference for employees while protecting the company’s bottom line and employer brand.
Back in 2007, Google noticed a lot of women leaving the company. A closer look at their HR analytics revealed it was mostly new mothers choosing to quit. This prompted then HR leader Laszlo Bock to increase the amount of paid maternity leave from the standard 12 weeks to five months. The result? The attrition rate for women decreased by 50%, making it on-par with the attrition rate for men.
More recently, Google analyzed manager performance ratings, employee feedback and other metrics to uncover which leadership styles led to the most productive and engaged teams. Their findings informed a list of eight leadership qualities that the company requires all managers to adopt. After some training and coaching, 75% of their worst performing managers improved.
While you may not be charged with figuring out whether more vegan options in the café will increase morale, there’s a lesson for HR services: To optimize the employee experience, you must pay close attention to your data. Here are two ways you can go about using data to improve:
Spot the trends
When Google’s HR department noticed a stark increase in female resignations, they immediately took a deeper dive into their data to see what was really going on. By regularly reviewing your HR services data you’ll start to notice high-level trends and outliers, which can shine light on areas that need improvement or show you what’s working well. For example, if you notice the amount of overdue HR cases has increased by 15% over the same time period your workforce has grown, drilling into this data might suggest you need to add more staff to maintain your same service levels. It all comes down to monitoring your data consistently so you know when something is out of the norm for your organization.
Start with a question
Another way to use data to improve employee experience is to start with a hypothesis—an assumption you want to validate or disprove. Google’s leadership experiment started off with a hunch that there are common characteristics of top-performing managers that can be transferable to low-performing managers. Say you have a feeling there’s not enough sick leave policy documentation on your knowledge base. Before you invest resources in writing and publishing more knowledge base articles, you could take a look at the number of case management requests related to sick leave. If the data shows a disproportionate amount of requests regarding sick leave, it’s a good indication your hypothesis is right. More information on your knowledge base will likely decrease the amount of these requests and better equip employees to self-serve (which we know contributes to a positive employee experience).
Analytics: An imperative for HR
In the past, when HR Operations would do studies similar to those by Google, they were often one-off projects with a small budget, and the work was usually done by technical staff in their spare time, according to Josh Bersin, founder and principal at Bersin by Deloitte. Now, that’s changing. Organizations realize that people analytics is a vital part of running a high-performing company. According to Bersin by Deloitte’s new research, 69% of companies are integrating data to build a people analytics database and mature companies now use 7 different methods for capturing employee data.
What’s also changing is the need for HR professionals to possess analytical skills. Making the case for programs or changes that will impact employee experience requires a data-driven explanation. As Bersin puts it, “This has now become the new world of HR: If you can’t put data behind your work, business leaders just will not pay attention.”
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About Jolene Nicotina
Jolene Nicotina is the Content Marketing Manager for North America at PeopleDoc, Inc. She works on making sure HR professionals have all the latest information they need related to HR service delivery, HR technology, and PeopleDoc, Inc. Prior to PeopleDoc, Jolene worked in marketing communications for the healthcare technology industry.