People Analytics Tech: Rising to the Occasion

May 7th, 2020

Lately, we've witnessed the people analytics (PA) community come together rapidly to support organizations as they navigate their way through the COVID-19 crisis. Through this blog, we share the resources and tools currently being offered by the vendors to help individuals, leaders, and organizations.

While we've done our best to provide the most current updates, we know that things are moving at a very fast pace. We're all learning every day (hour?!) of new needs, so expect vendors’ approaches to evolve rapidly. We'll do our best to keep this list updated, but the best source will always be the vendors themselves.

People analytics & their resources for the pandemic

We cover the PA vendors and the resources they offer based on the categories in our 2×2 people analytics technology framework:

  • Employee coaching
  • Employee engagement / experience
  • Multisource analysis platforms
  • Organizational network analysis (ONA)
  • Learning analytics
  • Text analytics
  • Labor market analysis

At the end of this discussion, we include a corresponding text chart for each of the 7 PA tech categories to let you know Who is doing What, plus any pertinent Additional Details (see Appendix 1).

Employee coaching: Understanding what’s changed since COVID-19

Some of the themes and focus areas in this category include employee behaviors, work life balance, and empathy. We were particularly impressed by the resources being offered by Cultivate for individuals to become more self-aware. Self-awareness can be a critical strength when navigating work from home and conducting digital communications exclusively with colleagues for the first time.

Employee engagement / experience: Determining what to prioritize during the crisis

One of the major priorities for organizations during this crisis has been keeping their remote workforce engaged and ensuring a positive employee experience. Vendors have stepped up to help provide tools and resources that focus on employee listening, communications, well-being, transparency, collaboration, and productivity.

There are 3 things that stood out to us in this category:

  1. Resources and tools to help managers. As a bridge between senior leadership and employees, managers are playing critical roles in guiding, communicating, and motivating their teams during the crisis. Several vendors such as 15Five, Peakon, Glint, Limeade, Perceptyx, and Betterworks Engage (formerly Hyphen) are offering such resources.
  2. Crowdsourcing ideas. Going beyond the senior management to include the voices from employees and encourage them to share their ideas can not only drive engagement but can also help improve communications and make employees feel that they are all in this together. One of the vendors doing this actively is Medallia.
  3. Preparing to return to the workplace. Vendors such as Qualtrics and Perceptyx are offering surveys that allow organizations to understand how and when employees should return to work by assessing their confidence levels and their sentiments.

Multisource analytics platforms: Understanding the impacts of COVID-19

Vendors in this category are helping organizations integrate and manage the new data they are collecting to track the crisis, and its effect on the workforce, and to conduct advanced analyses such as “what-if” analysis and scenario planning.

Two things that stood out to us from this category were:

  1. Integrating new data and conducting advanced analytics. Overall, vendors such as CruncHR, One Model, Vemo Workforce, and PeopleInsight are working as thought partners to help businesses strengthen their data infrastructure and management, and to identify the analysis needed to support the business.
  2. Combining workforce data with COVID-19 data for holistic analysis and surfacing future projections. Visier is offering its customers the ability to compare workforce data with publicly available COVID-19 data all within their solution giving them the ability to see different peaks and future projections for the pandemic for different geographies.

Organizational network analysis (ONA): Identifying & leveraging connections during the crisis

Even before the pandemic, fostering a culture of teamwork and collaboration was among the top challenges and concerns for employers. The crisis brought on by COVID-19 has only made this challenge more pressing as organizations transitioned to remote working. Vendors whom we heard from are focused on helping organizations with issues of connectivity, isolation and overall organizational health during the crisis.

The 2 things we wanted to highlight in this category are:

  1. Combating isolation during remote work. Vendors such as Polinode are working to help their customers collect data and identify individuals through ONA that are at most risk of isolation and those that are well connected and can be leveraged for proactive outreach.
  2. Identifying the changing drivers for productivity. Vendors such as Innovisor are offering resources that can help customers understand the change in key drivers that affect productivity.

Learning analytics: Providing resources to learn during the crisis

Areas of focus under this category include providing organizations and individuals with online learning resources such as videos, guides, and activities to help them understand mental health, and cope with anxiety and isolation.

One interesting resource that we wanted to highlight in this category is the partnerships leveraged by MLevel which can make critical learning resources on well-being accessible to a wider community.

Text analytics: Understanding what employees need during COVID-19

Advanced text analytics such as multi-language semantic text understanding can be especially crucial in times of crisis to really understand the challenges employees are facing and share ideas on new ways of working. Since traditional text classification models are not enough to capture employee engagement during times of unprecedented crisis, vendor OrganizationView is working with customers to build new text classification models.

Labor market analysis: Developing a plan for the new normal

While on one hand the crisis has been particularly hard for individuals who have been let go from their roles as organizations cut back, on the other hand, are institutes and businesses who found themselves on the frontline helping with the crisis and needing to hire quickly to meet the growing need for extra work.

Labor market data has been crucial in bridging the gap between the two. Vendors such as Eightfold AI and EMSI have been leveraging this data to match people to the jobs in companies that are hiring, helping them highlight the crucial skills, and sharing the labor market data broadly to help businesses plan and prepare.

Looking ahead

As some parts of the world are starting to look toward reopening and retuning workers to the workplace, people analytics tech providers are beginning to support “return to workplace” efforts through surveys and insights to measure the level of readiness and sentiment of the workforce. Beyond technology providers, we are also hearing from consulting providers who are creating support kits and helping customers think through their new strategies.

For example, Aon recently launched a tool, the Talent Impact Modeler, that aims to help companies plan for various impacts on their talent and including furloughs, compensation planning, shift planning, and attrition and retirement. As more and more areas recover from the pandemic, we foresee a shift as people analytics technology will move from being used to help organizations react and respond to plan for and adjust to the new normal.

Thinking about the future, issues such as trust, transparency, and well-being, which have risen to the top during the crisis, will assume a more permanent place among the top objectives for organizations if they want to be better prepared in the future to face similar crises.

Additionally, the crisis forced organizations to shift their focus to identify work and tasks that are essential to keeping the business going and the skills required to get that work done. This will affect and bring about a significant shift in the thinking and how organizations approach work moving forward. We foresee organizations giving greater attention to growth and development of skills needed for work essential to the business.

People analytics is well positioned to not just support but take a lead in helping businesses achieve these objectives. Given how the vendor community has risen and come together in this time of need during the crisis, we think they will be well positioned to continue playing a crucial role in providing the necessary capabilities and tools needed to help leaders in the future.

Appendix 1: PA tech providers by category

Employee Coaching

Employee Engagement / Experience

Multi-Source Analysis Platforms

Organizational Network Analysis

Learning Analytics

Text Analytics

Labor Market Analysis

Who What Additional Details

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  • A remote working guide for managers
  • A self-awareness quiz and a work from home quiz for individuals
  • “Work From Home” Reports

The vendor recently launched a new feature for auto-sending emails to avoid emails after work hours. It works as a Google Chrome extension and allows users to schedule after-hours messages to the recipient’s next available workday and time. The vendor has also started offering “Work From Home Reports” that provide the users with a summary of their digital behaviors and how it may have changed since they started remote work, including communication patterns, frequency, and volume.

Figure 1: Employee Coaching | Source: RedThread Research, 2020.

Employee engagement / experience

Who What Additional Details

  • Free use of all their tools through June to help employers new to managing remote workers
  • Remote work guides and webinars

The vendor offers technology as well as learning resources on its platform such as courses, certificates, and lessons for leaders and managers to help with the transition to remote work.

  • A free emergency response survey template
  • A collection of crowdsourced ideas and information on the website
  • Virtual workshops and trainings for customers on facilitating remote meetings

The resources are categorized on the website under themes such as supporting teams, working remotely, health information, and crowdsourced ideas to allow for quick reference based on specific needs.

The resource center is updated on an ongoing basis and is comprised of blogs, webinars, articles, toolkits, and guides.

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  • Free remote work nudges for individuals
  • A Crisis Resilience Solution for leaders

The nudges contain short suggestions to help people better work from home and navigate uncertainty.
Additionally, through the Crisis Resilience Solution, the vendor aims to help leaders identify what their people are struggling with during COVID-19, boost team cohesion and trust, and offer personalized support to every employee.

  • Using their KeenCorp Index to help customers identify “at-risk” employee groups

The vendor is working to help its customers increase communication, preventing turnover and declines in performance due to anxiety.

  • A free version of their product for a limited time
  • Resources such as blogs, write ups, videos, and webinars on the website

The product is working on helping organizations improve communications. The vendor is also offering tips and advice through their blogs that can be helpful for organizations working on transparency, trust, and well-being,

  • Employee Pulse Surveys that leverage both text and video feedback
  • A collaboration platform called “Crowdcity” that allows companies to crowdsource ideas from the employees
  • Text analytics to turn employee feedback into insights

The vendor is offering a number of their tools free for a 60-day trial. In addition, the vendor is also offering blogs and webinars that share best practices and advice around employee experience.

  • A set of COVID-19 specific survey questions
  • Three months of free access to Peakon
  • A Peakon Support Hub with advice, articles, webinars, and insights

The survey questions aim to help organizations understand the overall well-being of their employees.

Insights from global data collected by the vendor reveal that while in mid-March 1.5% of all weekly employee comments globally were about the virus, a month later, 3.5% of weekly comments were about the virus.

It also shows that the proportion of global employee comments related to well-being was 51% higher in March than it was in February. Additionally, manager response and acknowledgement rates to COVID-19 related comments were far higher than average, at 7% and 15% respectively, reflecting higher engagement from managers in March.

  • A series of online webinars to facilitate information sharing
  • A COVID-19 survey to assess corporate responses free for customers
  • A ‘Managing Remote Teams’ survey to support and manage remote teams free for customers
  • A survey to support people managers
  • A healthcare survey
  • A retail survey
  • A “Return to work” survey

The vendor has made the recordings of all their webinars publicly available on their website. In addition to the several surveys, the vendor is also offering action planning guides to be used once the surveys are completed.

  • A remote work pulse survey
  • A healthcare workforce pulse survey
  • A return to work pulse survey

The vendor is currently offering all of its solutions free for all organizations. In addition to these, the vendor is also offering additional resources such as blogs, articles, and advice on their website on how to build a positive employee experience during the crisis.

  • A series of resources, blogs, articles, and best practices for the healthcare community
  • A caregiver collaborative on a weekly basis to discuss emerging and adaptive practices implemented by physicians and nurses

Press Ganey, a health-care company, acquired the employee engagement vendor SMD in December 2019. The company has numerous resources that are freely available on its website.

  • A Work from Home analysis

The vendor has been working with their customers to leverage anonymous data from productivity tools such as Slack, Office 365, and G suite to assess the impact of change on their workforce and support them. The data provides insights into the levels of employee engagement, productivity, and collaboration at the macro level.

Figure 2: Employee Engagement / Experience | Source: RedThread Research, 2020.

Multisource analysis platforms

Who What

Additional Details

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  • Launched a survey and an Open Research Initiative
  • A ‘Covid19 Fair Share Index’ for customers to see how many hypothetical active cases they have by country over time

The research, which is based on the findings from the survey, is aimed at providing insights on what employers can do to keep employee productivity and engagement up. By end of April, the research had received almost 700 respondents. Some early insights revealed that on average, 66.8% of home workers are (very) worried about the economic situation: millennials (64.8%) less than older employees (71.9%) – and women (70.7%) more than men (64.7%). Additionally, personalized interventions to help employees, instead of a one-size fits all approach, are more effective.

  • A free easy-to-use tool to track COVID-19 impacts on the organization
  • Two blog posts highlighting the critical questions around workforce that need answers

The vendor is working with customers to help them integrate new data sets containing COVID-19 tracking data, employee survey results, and work from home data in a few hours to allow reporting in a quick manner. They have created employee level dashboards to assist employees and managers in reducing leave balance hotspots.

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  • Helping customers manage and maintain up-to-date data for talent acquisition analysis, turnover analysis, retention analysis and workforce health

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  • Reaching out to customers to share ideas and support them to use planning and analytics for good

The vendor has seen their customers increasingly leverage their scenario planning tools to conduct what-if analysis to answer questions around forecasting attrition, retirements changing, and hiring volumes. The tool is also being used by customers to understand if they have business areas that are constrained by COVID-19, how and where can they manage this by managing external and internal attrition, instead of workforce reductions, and whether they should launch any voluntary reduction of hours or leave programs. They are also working with some customers to make sure they are coding leaves of absences and voluntary turnover by COVID-19 change reasons.

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  • New capabilities to compare employee data with public COVID-19 pandemic information and make future projections
  • Weekly forums featuring people analytics practitioners, vendors, and thought leaders to share stories, ideas, and advice

The vendor is offering a whole suite of crisis management resources that include guides, demos on how to leverage their solutions during COVID-19, and alerts and advisories. It is also extending a managed COVID-19 data set for open use via GitHub which is refreshed daily to assist with employee safety, crisis management, and workforce planning scenarios.

Figure 3: Multisource Analysis Platforms | Source: RedThread Research, 2020.

Organizational network analysis / ONA

Who What

Additional Details

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  • Published several white papers and publications on their website

The vendor is focused on helping customers understand the effects of COVID-19 on the overall organizational health.

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  • A “COVID-19 Pulse Tracker” tool to help managers keep their teams connected and productive

The insights from the tracker have revealed that “team connectivity” is a key driver for productivity. The data includes responses from teams in over 20 countries based out of North America, Europe, and the Middle East and include Professional Services, IT, NGO/IGO’s, and HigherEd to Pharma and Manufacturing industries.

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  • Working with leaders at medium to large companies to understand how to optimize their existing spans and layers to run an efficient organization while delivering strong cost savings
  • Helping companies manage their blindsides on issues related to diversity during layoffs and prevent any risk of employment lawsuits

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  • Using ONA to ensure the well-being of staff and preventing isolation
  • Addressing communication challenges, especially collaboration outside of immediate teams and with external parties

While the vendor has currently been working with active data to help discover insights for customers, they can also leverage passive data to examine similar questions, measure well-being, and analyze collaboration levels.

TrustSphere Logo copy
  • Measuring changes in collaboration and inclusive leadership (across teams/timeframes) in the new distributed workplace
  • Identifying employees at risk of ‘collaboration overload’ (employee wellbeing)
  • Network insights for strategic workforce planning in the ‘return to work’ context

The vendor is focused on ‘operationalizing’ real time passive ONA signals to help customers measure/ analyze team collaboration, inclusiveness, and customer engagement.

Figure 4: Organizational Network Analysis / ONA | Source: RedThread Research, 2020.

Learning analytics

Who What

Additional Details

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  • Partnership with the online learning platform,
  • Partnership with Microsoft teams to offer introduction modules on how it can be used as an educational tool
  • New course series focused on health and well-being

In addition to the partnerships and learning courses, the vendor is also providing video guides on how organizations can utilize MLevel with tools such as Slack, Teams, Skype, Zoom, and OneNote among others.

Figure 5: Learning Analytics | Source: RedThread Research, 2020.

Text analytics

Who What

Organization-View-logo copy
  • New text classification models to help customers ask their employees more efficiently about their challenges and needs
  • Virtual presentations and trainings focused on advanced text analytics techniques such as word embeddings

Figure 6: Text Analytics | Source: RedThread Research, 2020.

Labor market analysis

Who What

Additional Details


The platform, supported by McKinsey & Company, is being offered free of charge during COVID-19. The platform can also be used by organizations who have had to furlough their employees to communicate with them so they can rejoin when things are back to normal.

emsi-logo copy
  • A resume optimizer to help out-of-work individuals highlight crucial skills
  • Two job posting data dashboards for U.S and Canada
  • Free webinars, research and tools focused on labor market data, job postings, and skills

Figure 7: Labor Market Analysis | Source: RedThread Research, 2020.

Heather Gilmartin Adams