In the age of big data, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. What to measure, how to analyze and what to do with the information can be challenging questions for Human Resources professionals because, after all, we aren’t simply talking about numbers. We are talking about people and their experiences.
That powerful point – the intersection of data, curiosity and HR expertise – is the emerging space of People Analytics, led by Petra Mudder. As Kellogg’s Director, Global People Analytics, Petra and her team are helping build HR’s analytic capabilities and drive the function’s digital transformation.
Petra answers questions about this big bet investment, and the art and science of creating business value and boosting employee experience.
What do you see as the big opportunity for data and analytics in HR?
Kellogg culture is very special– it’s a differentiator for our employees and a competitive advantage for our business.
Ultimately, the goal is to create and continuously evolve a culture where current and future employees can be their best selves, have great experiences and successfully shape our business. That’s a tall order. On top of that, we are setting up three stand-alone companies, each with a winning culture.
People and business data are tremendous assets that, when analyzed effectively, can drive our HR strategies and culture, including Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, retention & engagement and manager effectiveness. Another area where data is powerful is addressing the evolving needs of today’s hybrid workforce. With better insights, we can empower HR and business leaders to win by design, not default.
How do we ‘win by design’ with data?
We are early in our journey, but take retention, for example. In a tight labor market, keeping newly hired talent engaged and retaining longer-tenured employees is top of mind.
This year, we have looked at voluntary leave data to uncover turnover patterns and critical populations. While our turnover rates are very low, there are always opportunity areas. At the same time, we seek to understand the bright spots with employees who stay. Connecting previously independent information like engagement data and core HR systems data – and ensuring privacy law compliance and application of ethics standards – provides meaningful insights that can ultimately help reduce turnover and enrich the experience for retained talent.
Another example is how we look at our ED&I efforts. Representation and inclusion are about much more than metrics. Are we making space for everyone at the table? Do employees feel supported? Are they bringing their whole selves to work? We use our insights to inform talent processes, understand inclusion and engagement levels, and ensure equity. Designing programs to meet employees where they are creates a meaningful people strategy.
How did you come to lead the People Analytics effort at Kellogg?
To be honest, this was not front-and-center on my career map. I have a Business Economics background and have spent my entire career across HR. I thought People Analytics would be all about numbers and didn’t think my background fit! But as I got into it, I quickly became intrigued by the intersection of people and data. Coming to this role with my HR experience coupled with strong technical expertise of my team has been a powerful combination in this emerging space.
How can data change culture?
That is a big question. Data and analytics should be part of a company’s DNA – not something that a few specialists do. Yes, there is technical expertise, but we need to broadly adopt the analytical mindset to enable informed decisions and drive results.
One behavior we value across all levels of Kellogg is courage, such as saying what needs to be said in a meeting. Or challenging a long-held belief. Like any organization, sometimes anecdotal stories and soundbites can be perceived as facts. Data can help us determine whether those anecdotes ring true. In some cases, we might find the need to challenge a long-held belief.
In these moments, data can fuel a powerful conversation. But it’s not only about myth-busting. We can shine a light into the corners of our shared unconscious bias and make intentional choices about change.
What excites you about the future of People Analytics at Kellogg?
I believe the future is about inclusion, in many interpretations of the word. In this context, it’s about including analytics into the ‘normal’ way we do things in HR. We need to be asking, ‘what can we do to make our organization better and help our people to thrive?’ The data can tell us where to focus and if we are progressing.
And we are not focused solely on HR. Next year, we plan to connect people data with commercial data to provide new insights and understand the impact of HR programs on business results.
I see a future where we drive great experiences through data-insights and give managers more insights at their fingertips – not simply more data. With this, we will be as intentional about people initiatives as we are about commercial ones. That is the art and the science of improving culture and business.
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