COLUMN | November 20, 2018 | 3 min read

Using data to create a better employee experience

Task automation and data analytics help companies help their employees

By Riva Froymovich, former editor of Workflow Quarterly

  • New tools can harness employee data to craft more personal work experiences
  • Humana is among the companies looking to improve employee experience with AI technology
  • HR platforms can save companies money in addition to allowing for new insights
To understand how companies are using digital technology to improve the human experience of work, we interviewed a half dozen Chief Human Resources Officers at companies leading those efforts. This is the last of four articles in a series.
More than 12,000 people work in the Louisville, KY headquarters of Humana, a national health insurance provider. Another 34,000 Humana employees work in other locations around the U.S.

What’s the daily work experience like for every one of those employees, and where are the biggest opportunities for improvement? That’s a big focus for Humana’s chief human resources officer, Tim Huval.

Employee experience encompasses a broad spectrum of activities and services that are often defined by questions: How long does it take for an employee to check on a healthcare benefit update? How engaged are workers in the company’s mission? Are supervisors supporting their teams? Are employees happy doing their work?

Huval uses sophisticated digital tools to answer those questions, rather than just relying on procedures, policies, and people. “Technology can be an accelerant for a great employee experience,” Huval says. In short, he is leaning on machines to create a more human enterprise.

Building great employee experiences helps HR leaders attract top talent. So does grounding organizational culture in people‑centric values and purpose. But achieving all that requires more than a big heart. CHROs say it also takes stockpiles of data.

“There are opportunities, using data and employee input, to more deeply understand employee experiences, including ‘moments of influence,’ unmet needs, and friction points,” says Huval. “Using this approach, it will be possible for us to create simple and warm experiences.”

That’s one reason why 57% of CHROs say that HR has become a driver of digital transformation, while 75% are digitizing or automating at least a third of their HR tasks, according to a recent study from ServiceNow.

Some companies are investing in technologies that aggregate employee data into a single platform, build AI processes from that data, and use them to design more personalized work experiences. The goal is to help create organizations that aren’t just more personal but also better‑performing.

“The idea is to systematize thoughtfulness, automating transactional elements of the employee experience, and prompting leaders and teammates to create personally meaningful experiences for their colleagues,” says Huval. For example, Humana’s Digital Total Well‑Being Snapshot tracks 60 goal‑based metrics and presents them in a scorecard that teams use to help their colleagues succeed.

At Singtel Telecommunications, the largest mobile network operator in Singapore, CHRO Aileen Tan says her team has been very focused on creating a single data platform for all employees.

“We have spent a lot of time diving into data to see what insight we get, and based on that, how we introduce interventions,” says Tan. Those interventions can mean the difference between keeping an employee engaged or losing a valuable team member. The data connects the employer with clear information on what workers value and how they define a meaningful employee experience.

At Ausenco, a global consulting, engineering, project delivery, and operations company headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, chief people and technology officer Neil Trembath collects annual data on the performance and potential of over 2,000 employees. Ausenco uses the data to rate technical employees relative to the global talent base, so that the company can align their compensation, identify learning opportunities, and rank organizational competitiveness.

Banco Santander, the Spain‑based global banking group, has also found that the technology investment is worth the heavy lift.

“At the end of the day, we are going to save a lot of money,” says Jaime Perez Renovales, Banco Santander’s CHRO. “It will require a big effort from current users to adapt, but the efficiencies that we can get by using one platform across the whole group will be very good for us in terms of management and in terms of results.”


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Riva Froymovich is the former editor of Workflow Quarterly, where she managed a research and digital publishing program at ServiceNow. A former journalist and author, she has reported for The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and other outlets.

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