What Is People Science Really All About? | Featured Image

What Is People Science Really All About?

Written by Adam Hale, EVP of Sage People.

What Is People Science Really All About? | Main Image

You’ve heard the phrase ‘People Science’ and have maybe even seen job postings for a ‘Head of People’ or ‘Chief People Officer’. But what does People Science really mean and why does it matter?

People Science is an approach organizations use to relate to their employees instead of seeing them as just human resources. Our Becoming a People Company report found that 87% of HR leaders think more should be done to put people at the heart of their business and that’s what People Science is all about. It looks at every part of an employee’s experience and goes beyond traditional HR in reach and influence, becoming a business-critical strategy that integrates with every part of the organization.

If you’re just starting to wrap your head around People Science, below are 6 ways to understand the power of the approach and the impact it can have on your workplace.

1. 3D not 2D

When you’re looking to engage with people, rather than manage people as resources or capital, you need to know about an employee’s skills, pay scale and reporting lines, and then look more deeply at the individuals themselves. When using People Science, every employee is treated as a multi-dimensional personality, not just a flat outline. The best HR and people leaders understand cultural fit, working styles, strengths, values and the goals each person brings to an organization.

2. Home cooking, not takeaway meals

When you cook at home, you need to collect the right ingredients and add them at just the right time and in the right proportions to get the perfect result. You know how each ingredient reacts, what brings out its best and how to avoid burning or undercooking it. You can learn from your results and refine your recipes, knowing which elements work well together.

People Science is like home-cooking your organization’s culture and values, balancing the people in teams and ‘shopping’ for top-quality hires who have the potential to add depth and flavor to your projects. It’s got a strategic long-term side, as well as a skillful day-to-day process. And while it takes a little more time and effort than grabbing a takeaway snack for instant relief, it’s a more sustainable way to nurture your organization’s long-term health.

3. Sherlock Holmes with DNA fingerprinting

Sherlock Holmes is a genius who can use deduction and logic to unravel murder mysteries with his mind. But imagine if he had a DNA forensics lab and Big Data at his disposal. Intuitive talent plus hard data? He’d be unstoppable.

In today’s business climate, it’s now unthinkable to not use data to analyze customer behaviors, but many companies don’t apply this same logic to understanding their own people. Why are so many overlooking this? If companies want to attract and retain the best people, the use of people data to improve the employee experience is no longer optional.

People Science takes the intuitive power of HR and adds data evidence to support ideas, investigate theories and take pre-emptive action. Because it’s data-backed and evidence based, it can provide iron-clad answers to back up your hunches about things. It can also predict outcomes, so you can foresee and prevent issues like flight risk or talent shortages.

4. Google vs. your multi-volume leather-bound encyclopedia

Google is an essential reference tool, much like your trusty set of encyclopedia books. It knows the answers. But while you can use it to look up facts about ancient Egypt, there’s so much more to it than that.

Like Google – and the technology industry in general – People Science is always changing and innovating. Instead of sticking to rigid processes, HR and people leaders who take a People Science approach are reinventing things according to movements in their industry, in technological tools and in People Science itself. It’s nimble enough to respond to the transforming world of modern business.

5. The X-Men vs. your favorite sports team

Your favorite sports team consists of players with finely-honed skills in shooting hoops, blocking passes or scoring goals. But only in (or on) their own field. Pit them against an unexpected challenge like, say, an evil supervillain intent on world destruction, and they’ll probably be out of their depth.

People teams are multi-disciplinary, with an array of superpowers including data analysis, marketing, building relationships, social media and talent scouting (not to mention saving the world on a regular basis). Think of them as your all-star team of people superheroes, ready for anything life throws at your business, even game-changing digital developments that fall outside the traditional HR field.

6. A hotel, not a dorm room

Like a hotel, a business with People Science knowledge understands that its commercial success depends on keeping people comfortable, feeling valued and leaving with a great experience. Hospitality is vital, not just a nice-to-have – unless you want your people, like the students in a basic dorm room, to upgrade to a nicer workplace once they’ve finished learning from you.

See how your company stacks up in the journey to become a People Company with our free People Company profiler.

About the Author:

Adam Hale, EVP of Sage People

Adam Hale, EVP of Sage People, previously acted as Executive Chairman and Non Executive Director having spent over 30 years in the technology industry. He was formerly Head of Software and European Technology at Russell Reynolds Associates, the leading executive search firm and before that ran large system implementation projects at Accenture. Adam is also a committee member of the Technology Leadership Group (TLG) for the Prince’s Trust.


If you want to share this article the reference to Adam Hale and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

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Unlocking Business Growth through HR and People Science

Unlocking Business Growth through HR and People Science

Written by Adam Hale, EVP of Sage People.

Why fast-growth companies are bounding ahead?

For businesses to sustain growth, be more productive, and attract and retain the best talent in today’s increasingly global and competitive climate, they need to use data intelligently. Data analytics has been happening for a long time in marketing, sales and finance, but now we’re seeing HR wake up to the benefits. Traditionally, HR functions capture information about employees passively in order to meet legislative requirements but organizations are now realizing it has far more potential with data analytics which is also leading to the rise of the Chief People Officer role.

While 83% of HR leaders recognize that all people decisions should be based on data and analytics, the reality in the workplace is very different. Recent research Fairsail (now Sage People) conducted amongst 500 global HR leaders for its report ‘The use of people science in fast growth companies’ showed that only 37% of those surveyed claiming to already use a data-centric approach.

Why fast-growth companies are bounding ahead

However, there is one business group making the most of its people science capabilities: the fast-growing ‘gazelle’ organizations – companies which have increased their revenues by at least 20% annually for four years or more. The research shows that these organizations are far more advanced in HR than the average company. They have full HR automation (80% v 53%) so they can report faster and more easily on a range of influential HR metrics. If asked to report on headcount within a single day, 84% can do it; that’s 16 percentage points better than non-gazelles. They can more easily report on high potential employees (58% v 42%) and on personal growth (58% v 41%).

These gazelle organizations can see what’s working and what needs to change and can take action confidently to make sure they’re supporting employees to achieve their potential. While gazelles are the one’s bounding ahead, all is not lost as almost every organization we spoke to did have an awareness of the potential to use people and HR data to improve their business.

Use Chief People Officers to close the gap

Even if they haven’t yet marshalled it effectively or decided exactly how they’ll use it, a staggering 92% said they’d like to use people science to improve their business. And another 65% said that in the next 12 months they need to achieve greater data visibility.

The research also positively showed a movement across all organizations to make a highly visible change that reflects the shift to a people focus: 17% have appointed a Chief People Officer to put people science at the heart of their business. The gap between the gazelle approach and the non-gazelle approach looks set to narrow in the very near future, as all businesses take action on their ever-growing awareness of the importance of people analytics.

Tap into data to unlock rapid growth

So what can we learn today from these market-leading organizations? Seeking and seizing opportunities and using every lever a company can get its hands on to improve performance is the key to rapid growth. Organizations shouldn’t be afraid to explore the latest people thinking, or adopt the tools that gather data and turn it into business intelligence. The challenge is to put systems and tools in place to collect and analyze it for tangible benefit – as 31% revealed, they don’t currently have the right technology in place to interpret the necessary people science. Automation helps companies move away from old-style HR with its laborious administration and manual processes and spreadsheets. With this, people teams should be able to explore the workforce data to understand what employees want and need. They can take action to provide great workforce experiences that makes the most of talent to fuel productivity and business growth.

To read the full ‘The use of people science in fast growth companies’ report, please visit www.fairsail.com.

About the Author:

Adam Hale, CEO at Fairsail

Adam Hale, EVP of Sage People, previously acted as Executive Chairman and Non Executive Director having spent over 30 years in the technology industry. He was formerly Head of Software and European Technology at Russell Reynolds Associates, the leading executive search firm and before that ran large system implementation projects at Accenture. Adam is also a committee member of the Technology Leadership Group (TLG) for the Prince’s Trust.


If you want to share this article the reference to Adam Hale and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

People Science: Why Your Employees Are Your Most Important Asset

Written by Adam Hale, CEO at Fairsail.

People Science

We are in the midst of a global skills crisis that is forcing companies to rethink how they attract and retain the right talent. Imagine being able to know why the top salesperson at a business has quit, and then how to ensure it doesn’t happen again. What if businesses could use the profiles of their top performers to identify the candidates most likely to be high performers in the future.

Business leaders are looking for more, data-driven people decisions enabling business goals. I’m not talking about simplistic HR metrics and KPIs; I’m talking about People Science. This means being able to know why one of the firm’s top performers has quit, or what experiences new hires need to get up to speed quickly. It means the ability to hire and develop the right people today while building the skills needed for tomorrow.

What’s more – today’s people insights can prevent tomorrow’s problems. For example, the capability to know the reason why a top performer has quit can help to ensure that the business builds the right work environment, offers the right compensation packages, and creates consistently great workforce experiences to ensure that it doesn’t happen again in the future. By looking at the profiles of the best business leaders today, and the skills likely to be needed in the future, tomorrow’s leaders can be identified and developed so they are ready with the right skills at the right time.

It’s not just about what the business wants though; employees have high expectations too. They want achievable targets based on metrics, specific reasons why they haven’t been promoted, and insight which can help them to develop. For example, it may be possible to let a sales consultant know they don’t perform as well when pitching to prospective clients in teams, which could enable them to improve the way they collaborate with their colleagues.

There’s a growing theme here. These examples of insight gleaned from data aren’t just about HR; they’re about people and the overall business. Put simply, a new approach is required to the HR function. Automating existing HR processes is not enough. HR leaders need to become Chief People Officers – thinking differently about how they engage with employees and design better ways of working to drive productivity and retain your best people. The power of People Science is real, and it could make a huge difference in being able to outwit rivals, ensure the business has a competitive edge and be able to retain and recruit top talent.

About the Author:

Adam Hale, CEO at Fairsail

Adam Hale, CEO at Fairsail, previously acted as Executive Chairman and Non Executive Director having spent over 30 years in the technology industry. He was formerly Head of Software and European Technology at Russell Reynolds Associates, the leading executive search firm and before that ran large system implementation projects at Accenture. Adam is also a committee member of the Technology Leadership Group (TLG) for the Prince’s Trust.


If you want to share this article the reference to Adam Hale and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.