02 April 2021

Q&A Call-People Analytics Tech: Employee Engagement/Experience

Stacia Garr
Senior Analyst
Priyanka Mehrotra
Research Lead

TL;DR

  • In this Q&A call Stacia Garr is joined with Priyanka Mehrotra to discuss employee experience/engagement technology
  • Find out the differences and relationships between the two terms
  • What areas of focus for people analytics vendors
  • Explore the backgrounds of employee engagement vendors, backgrounds of employee experience vendors, and the backgrounds of “no” survey vendors
  • Are we seeing shifts in how to maintain employee engagement/experience with more hybrid work model
  • How can people preserve serendipity and watercooler talk remotely
  • How are companies creating a seamless employee experience

TRANSCRIPT

Introduction

 

Stacia Garr:
All right. Priyanka, can you help a little bit with if anybody else comes in, because I'm going to go ahead and get us started. Okay. Perfect. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining today. Priyanka and I are excited to share some it's really, this is a work in progress that we are, that we are doing. Literally, we were working on the paper last night and shifting some things around, shifting some more things around this morning. So you're getting to be a part of the process today but what we wanted to do in general with the people analytics tech study that we did last year was to then do kind of deeper dive some through the three biggest areas of focus. And so focus, meaning by size in terms of the number of vendors were in a given space.

Speaker 1:
So that is the employee engagement experience category. It is ONA and then the last one is what we call multi-source analysis platform. So folks like Visier as well as others. So this is the first of our deep dive studies that we're working on. And what we're trying to do is just give a little bit more understanding of what we are seeing within each of these markets. So today is employee engagement and experience. For those of you who don't know us, I think everybody does, but we're RedThread Research a human capital research membership focused on a range of things most relevant for today, people analytics and HR technology. And you can learn more about us@redthreadresearch.com. Okay. So Priyanka, I think you were going to lead us off with some of the things that we see specific to employee engagement experience from the study.

The importance of employee experience

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Yeah. And just to show, so I'm just going to set up the stage a little bit but not spend too much time because I know we already know a lot of this stuff. So just to begin, we know that employee engagement experience became extremely critical in 2020. And this is just one of the many data points that we have from that year that shows that employee experience became so important as part of HR strategy and it increase from almost 50% to 70%, from 2018 to 2020, and moving forward, HR leaders see it becoming even more important. So we know this became really important. It's going to continue being extremely important. So before we actually get down to talking about the technology, we just want you to spend a little bit of time understanding what these two concepts are, employee engagement and experience, and talking a little bit about the differences between them, how we see them and what is the relationship between them.

Differences between the two terms

 

Priyanka Mehrotra:
So if you just go onto the next slide, Stacia. Thank you. So just to give an overview of how we see these two terms, so employee experience can be seen as what employees perceive through their journey or their own way, perceptions of their interactions with organization. And so in that sense, it has a broad scope employee engagement by comparison is what employees do or behave. And in that sense, we see it having a much narrower scope than employee experience. We can also see employee experience as the cause that impacts or effects employee engagement and as a way results in employee engagement, among many other things, of course.

Relationship between the two

Priyanka Mehrotra:

But just so that we understand employee experience is something that feeds into employee engagement, and this is what we're seeing in the next slide, which is how that relationship moves between the two. So all the organization interactions that employees go through the life cycle journey feeds into what, what is what we see as employee experience, what we understand as employee experience for these employees and that ultimately results in how engaged they are with their workplace. So having set up these two terms and just expand that a little bit, I just want to open it up to anybody for any thoughts or feedback about these two topics.

Priyanka Mehrotra:
What do others think?

Speaker 1:
I think it's useful to have them broken out because I think a lot of people are still mixing experience and engagement. I see Speaker 2's hand up.

Speaker 2:
Yeah, absolutely. I was going to say the same. It's, it's great to put them side by side. I think I'd be interested to know your thoughts on what the, kind of, what the alongside employee engagement, what are the other kind of key outcomes of input experience that we can use to understand employee experience? Does that make sense? Or do you see engagement as the kind of number one result of good employee experience?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, so I think, you know, and this is part of partly due to you know, a lot the employee experience vendors have come from, and we're going to talk about that in just a second, but you know, the, the other outcomes that we see folks talk about so much as customer experience, you know, the relationship between EX and CX. And so and then, you know, CX driving revenue and other important metrics that we care about.

Stacia Garr:

There was an interesting piece and actually Speaker 1 probably is a little bit closer to it than I am, but the interesting piece that Medallia recently put out talking about how that relationship between EX and CX is not quite as linear as people might think about. There's a bit more nuance when it comes to how those two are connected, but, but to directly answer the question, Speaker 2, I think that CX is the other one that we see people focused on a lot. What are others see or think Speaker 3 I think I see your hand up. Yeah.

Speaker 3:
Hey yeah, I was just going to say, so my title is director of employee experience and I am all HR. And the reason that we titled it as such is because we felt that the holistic all encompassing umbrella is the experience and that every touch point, whether that be an HR policy or recruitment retention, onboarding dealing with alumni from the organization, that that is all kind of part of that experience. And so I definitely look at this and say, yup, that makes sense to me.

Speaker 1:
Well, listening to Speaker 3 talk, I'm also struck by the difference between there's there's things that are measuring people's perceptions of the experience. And then there are things that are actually creating the workflow that provides the experience, and that kind of gets wrapped into the same space. Because if you look at something like a service, now it's positioning itself as the experience platform architects experiences, it doesn't tell you if they're good or bad, it architects experiences, whereas something like a Medallia is going to listen to you like, or that experience sucked. Like they're going to capture that for you. So it gets really easy for me. It gets really easy to get lost in experience as is it a workflow, Is it a measurement of perception? So I think focusing on measurement of perception is helpful.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. And one thing I think we wrote about, and we didn't actually include this graphic in this deck, but we wrote about with the Microsoft Viva announcement was exactly your point Speaker 1 that there has historically there's been a technology that has come under the experience banner that has been designed to capture experience. And then you know, a lot of the engagement folks have kind of blended over into the experience because they're not just measuring your engagement, but they're also capturing the, you know, onboarding experience or that it, how do you feel it, you know, 30, 60, 90 days experience, et cetera. And so they're kind of bleeding over, but, but a lot of the language with the exception really of service now can kind of create a new category if you will, was around capturing experience, not influencing experience.

Stacia Garr:
What I think in, and we wrote about with Microsoft Viva as being, I think pretty, pretty transformational is that you're now going to both be able to understand the broader experience because you're able to look into all these different Microsoft products that we're all using, like right now, literally with PowerPoint and then potentially be able to to change that experience and measure it. And so I think, you know, we at RedThread try to stay away from the, like, this is such a big deal kind of language because most of the time it's not. But I do think that has the potential to, because it opens the aperture of what experience actually is even beyond what service now is doing. Quite a bit. I think that that has the potential, but I think you're well to start to come back to where we started, I think it's appropriate to acknowledge that there is experience measurement and then there's actual experience. And they're not the same thing.

Stacia Garr:
Any other thoughts on that?

Stacia Garr:
I know we have a number of folks who are not on camera. Feel free to go ahead and still kind of raise your hand and we can get you in. Also we promote everybody to panelists, so you can be on camera if you want, because obviously it's a, a dialogue that we have here. Okay. Priyanka I'll let you move on.

Areas of focus for people analytics vendors

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Moving to the next slide. So now we're going to talk a little bit about the technology and what we have seen in specific to terms of people analytics technology. So those of you familiar with our work know that we do this annual people analytics study every year and as Stacia mentioned in both years we have see that employee experience has been the biggest category of vendors and just looking at the numbers on the vendors that focus on these two areas as their primary talent areas of focus. We can see how this has shifted over the past one year as well. So in 2019, for example, we had 43% vendors say that can employee experience was that binary area focus. And that jumped to 60%, sorry, 50, 58%. In 2020 and similarly employee engagement also went up from 60 to 67%. So again, we saw organizations shift their focus in these areas and we saw vendors match those areas as well, and they really stepped up to meet the needs of the customers.

Engagement/Experience customers are mostly happy

Priyanka Mehrotra:
And the following slide will show that customers in general have been mostly happy with the vendors. So we had a customer feedback poll that we ran along with our vendor survey. And this average NPS score that you see here is the score that is only for the category of employee engagement and experienced vendors. And coincidentally, it was also the category that received the most number of customer responses. So we had about 16 employee engagement experience vendors, and 12 of them received over five customer responses, which was great compared to other categories and also the highest and best score. So an average score of 61, which is pretty great and just put it in a little bit of context. Enterprise software in general tends to have an average score of 40. So this is pretty high compared to that. So that is our findings from are people analytics study.

Stacia Garr:
Correct me if I'm wrong, this is slightly lower than the average overall for all of them.

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Yes. Yes. The overall people analytics study, we had an average score of 67, so slightly lower, but still, almost there.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. Yeah.

Stacia Garr:
And then I think it's, it's probably, we're saying back on, on the last slide. Oops, sorry. Here some of this, some of them we've been in these numbers was due to more vendors being in the study. But I think also a lot of people, I think Speaker 1, you, you mentioned this have just glommed on to the employee experience language. And so some of his jump may have been what was happening in 2020 and everyone said, I'm an employee experience vendor now. So I think that's important to acknowledge, but, but it kind of comes back to the point where Priyanka started, which is this concept has just taken off so much. You know, and Speaker 3 I think you mentioned this idea of in play experience being kind of the culmination of all the different things that we've done in the past. And so, you know, I expect it will continue to get energy, but it's important that part of the reason we put the definitions right in here to actually understand what we're talking about versus some of the other, other processes. But I just wanted to highlight, I think that some of this growth has just focused to being enthusiastic about the term, shall we say?

Backgrounds of employee engagement vendors

Stacia Garr:
Okay. So one of the things we did here for the first time is we wanted to actually talk a little bit more specifically about the vendors that are in the space and where they came from because that influences their bent in terms of the offers that the offerings that they give. And so Priyanka did this really cool thing. She's letting me present it, but she's the brains on this. One of looking at what kinds of backgrounds these different vendors, and she broke it into three groups at the top and the orange in the Venn diagram is employee engagement native. So like they started out as an employee engagement vendor, like that has been their bread and butter. On the lower left, we've got those who have some of a professional services background. And you can see here, we've got a Willis Towers, Watson, and then a vendor called Qlearsite kind of it's it's in between the two.

Stacia Garr:
We'll talk about that in a moment. And then on the lower, right, we have these vendors who are driving employee engagement by other talent areas. And so I think that I'll just kind of give, give a little bit more detail on each of these and then we can discuss any of the individual vendors that you all like. But so what we see here with the employee engagement natives that I think is interesting is so we've got Peakon, we've got Perceptyx and Glint, those are the, just those in the orange what's interesting here though, is two of those three, right. Have been acquired. Right. So now Peakon is with Workday and Glints, obviously part of LinkedIn and you know, Perceptyx, they have PE backing.

Stacia Garr:
So, you know,

Stacia Garr:
That puts you on a path. I'm not saying that they're, I don't have any insight on what they're doing, but that puts you on a path I'm seeing Speaker 1 nodding his head firstly.

Speaker 1:
It's just a matter of time.

Stacia Garr:
I did not say that.

Stacia Garr:
We've got Culture Amp who is, you know, one of our over on the lower, right. And we talk about them kind of being part of this driving engagement just on that same subject. So there, you know, I don't even know what series they are on, but they're a unicorn. They've got, you know, tons of investment in them. So something will happen one way or the other there. The blue area, since I've kind of gone to the lower, right. Is we say driving engagement by other areas. So you might say Culture Amp, like they've, you know, they're pretty, pretty engagement. But the reason we put them there as they did the acquisition of Sugata I guess about two years ago now which was a performance management vendor and a big part of their focus is now pushing quite a bit more into the manager and coaching side.

Stacia Garr:
So they, we just actually learned that they're doing a partnership with a vendor that's pretty popular here in the Bay area called Life Learning Labs, I think is what it's called. And they're creating kind of little micro learning bursts that are getting put into their solution to support the performance and engagement work. So that's why we've kind of said that we've see them as being a little bit more on the moving into this blue blue section and then the others who are in that blue section Betterworks. They bought a vendor that you all may be familiar with called Hyphen which was kind of in the continuous pulse survey space. That was, I think again also about two years ago Reflektive bought a vendor, they've been in engagement as well as performance, but they also bought a vendor called Shape Analytics.

Stacia Garr:
And then they themselves recently got acquired by LTG. And so that's going to pull them kind of more broadly into the talent space. Well, so while they're still still kind of swimming here or there, that's them. And then Fortay their their initial approaches talent acquisition but they kind of take this broader, broader look at talent acquisition and engagement as being related. And so they are packaging that together. But so again, you know, we're kind of putting this together because we think that having the, the background and where these vendors are and what they're doing can help consumers understand, okay, this is, this is their natural bet just to round out. And then I'll, I'll pause for comments over on the left, on the professional services side. So Willis Towers, Watson they've got a pretty robust engagement solution that we got briefed on this year that we hadn't seen before.

Stacia Garr:
And they've got a lot of clients using it. It's as you would expect reasonably tightly coupled with professional services offerings. But it can be bought standalone is my recollection. Yeah. Okay. And then Qlearsite, we have them kind of on the bubble because they were started by a bunch of former IBMers. And so the look and feel of their reports and a lot of their thinking kind of comes from that professional services background, but they are definitely a SAS company. So that's why we've got them on the bubble. So anyway, a few questions for you. One is this useful, this is the first time we've tried to think about this this way. So is it useful? Two, if it's at least a little bit useful, which you'll probably say, cause you all are very kind, how could we make this better?

Stacia Garr:
And three, are there any other questions you have? Yeah. Speaker 4?

Speaker 4:
Yes, of course. It's very useful. The reason being is exactly what you said at the very beginning with the top bubble who's sponsoring them where they came from, who they're, like you just said for the last one who their originator employees founders are speaks to probably what to expect from them. They're probably not going to be so different and varied. I don't recognize any of these names. So I need to know the generation that came before because I'm familiar with those ones. It's super interesting how fast things are moving.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. Yeah. Great points. Thank you. How about others?

Speaker 1:
I love the breakdown. I'm curious on how they're actually like, it feels like they're all going to go towards that bottom right bubble in terms of their development paths. Like my perception is the classic survey vendor is basically limited in scope now because things like Culture Amp and the others have taken the survey and they generated a, you know, no, do this or no, try this, or no, think this, on top of the survey. So I feel like the whole lot, you know, in the professional services background, there was a person saying, Hey, your survey says X, you should do Y. When you get to the Culture Amp site, it's like your survey says X here's three AI driven suggestions of what you could do. Like let me less than professional services. So I think it is really, really interesting because it understands the background. I feel like everyone's going to be driving to that bottom right corner.

Stacia Garr:
Hmm. Yeah. That's an interesting point Speaker 1. And what that also brought to mind for me is the point that I made about acquisition, right? Like Peakon and Glint via acquisition effectively had the capability to drive through other talent areas because of that. And Perceptyx is building a performance and recognition solutions. So, yeah, so that's really good points. Speaker 3 I thought I saw your hand up. Yeah.

Speaker 3:
I don't know if it's the previous life of accounting. The CPA in me that looked at this and thought, and now what I kind of want an Excel spreadsheet or a grid that says you know, here's what it was, here's what it is. Here's what it does. Here's what it might merge with. And I think it went from, I looked at this, I spent two minutes looking at it. I thought that's interesting, but to take that from, that's interesting too, now this is useful and I can action something from it. It would need a bit more for me. So it really depends on what your purpose is. If it's a, you know, an information piece. Yeah. I look at it and I, I thought it was informative, but I wouldn't do anything with this information.

Stacia Garr:
That's helpful. Yeah. Yeah. I think on the report we have quite a bit more kind of detailed as you would expect in a report, but I think what that makes me think of is Priyanka. Maybe there's a you know, given this as if you were looking at this vendor asking these types of questions or something like that, that would push people with okay. Do not toss this point. That's interesting. But what do I then go do with this? Yeah. Super helpful.

Speaker 3:
So what, now what?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. Priyanka and I were talking about this, and she's like, but we haven't finished writing this. I'm like, this is the perfect time to get feedback. Let's throw it out there. So thank you. I know we've had some folks join since we started. You will see that I've promoted you to panelist. The reason for that is so that if you want to show your video and participate actively in the conversation by a video, you can, if you want to not be on video, but still participate, please do. And we do have chat. So please go ahead and put anything you want in there. Wait, I think there are people in chat. Sorry. I totally missed that. Okay. So let's see here.

Speaker 5:
Hi. yeah, maybe just a questions to you to help understand what are some of those criteria is that some firms on this, this I'm asking you because from the professional services background they might be a few more firms who might know me offer such services like the likes of Concentric and probably many more. Right. so yeah, maybe what are some of those criteria that might help to give some context? I don't know.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. So the criteria is they have to be in our study. And so to be in our study, that means that vendors have to go through a pretty exhaustive vendor survey and they then do a 75 to 90 minute briefing with Priyanka and me. And then ideally they also will send a survey to their customers so we can get a sense of their customer satisfaction. So the, I guess we know that this isn't necessarily totally exhaustive, even though we have 60 plus vendors in the overall study. But if you know, folks who we should consider putting in or who would want to participate, please share, share who they are. We'd like to make it better. Thanks.

Backgrounds of employee experience vendors

Stacia Garr:
Any other comments or thoughts on this one? We have a couple more for you all. Okay. All right. Let's, we'll keep going. So we did the same thing with our friends in the employee experience space. And so the way that we separated this was focused on engagement and Ex or focused on CX. I think as you guys, as you all would expect given kind of the nature of our work, we didn't have any who are only focused on CX cause then why would they be in a people analytics, tech study? But so right now but there's a ton of folks who are focused on both CX and EX, and those are the folks who were in the middle. So yeah. Confirmit, Ennova, Macorva, Medallia, Press Ganey via the SMB acquisition last year, Qualtrics Questback and SMG. And so that means that they are all pretty actively working most likely with the operation side of the house on collecting customer experience data, and then also working with HR, collecting employee experience data. Moving over to the other, oops, yeah Speaker 1.

Stacia Garr:
Looking at this particular set. This is one other, the structure that strikes me, there's a whole set that do passive detection and there's a whole set of do active detection. I think actually delineating on that is quite interesting from a market perspective. So something like well, Yva's has got both, Microsoft is mostly passive, things like Questback and Confirmit are pure survey based. And that is that's going to be a dividing line and how this plays out over time.

Priyanka Mehrotra:
If you can tell me how to show that.

Stacia Garr:
We've got these folks here, so we'll get to, I completely agree, because we are, so we have been discussing this at nauseum of how to divide these folks up. Cause you're right, right. So exactly, as you said, you know, Medallia and some of these others, you know, Yva, Worklytics, clearly they are the, the challenge. And so let me, let me maybe step back. We, I find it interesting and I want to know if you will find it interesting that the, all these CX folks jumping into EX or kind of making a lot more noise about EX, a lot of them have been here for awhile. But like for instance you know, one of the things that we learned last year was just how active Confirmit is in our space. And part of the reason that we were, I use it, they were a CX vendor.

Stacia Garr:
Part of the reason that it wasn't as obvious they were EX vendor is they white label, a ton of stuff, but they're actually the underlying platform in a lot of other platforms, it turns out. And that was something new that we learned. You know the combination like with Press Ganey, who only focuses on healthcare, on patient scores, which are CX and and what nurses and doctors and others think is totally fascinating. All of that really influences how they approach this market. Right? So that was part of the reason that we thought to look at that, you know, to call out those who do CX and EX. On the engagement and EX side, you know, these are folks who have very firmly made the transition, not just because there's some who we put Glint on the other side. Cause like, you know, if you look at, for instance, Glints marketing, 85% of what they talked about is just pure employee engagement. The folks who are here are very much, so some engagement, some experience like really evenly divided. And so we thought that, you know, kind of that combination of engagement of EX, whereas the other folks are clearly eat, just EX plus CX. We thought that was interesting, but maybe it's not that interesting. I don't know. Well, what do you, what do you all think?

Speaker 1:
Yeah, I think I don't, I don't disagree with this breakdown is that the, the question in terms of, you know, the Press Ganey is, and the Medallia's of the world are looking to link experience to an end state outcome. Like there's no point in measuring experiences for experience sake. There was never an point in measuring engagement for engagement's sake. It was always, how is this driving something we care about? But I don't, I think that the bubbles help, cause it's like, this is a vendor who's going to have some sense of how experience relates up to customers, et cetera, customer experience. And they can measure those two things together. They've got that kind of understanding and expertise, whereas the others are detecting things about employees from the floor of their work. So I don't even know, I don't know if it's a useful distinction.

Speaker 1:
I just it's. It is. It's very distinctive and how the information is captured is not the purpose is, as I think is really clear, but the how of that capture is where there needs call that or not. I don't know. It's something that strikes me as a really big change in how we are listening to employees, whether we're listening to them and giving them a chance to, you know, actively express what they want because we're filling in a survey or we're literally just scraping their communications paths and time and response frequency and detecting stuff from that. Like they're very distinct processes. So yeah. I don't know how you build that into the model, but as I've been watching this space evolve, that whole passive thing is quite distinctive.

Stacia Garr:
Yup. Great. Anyone else have thoughts?

Speaker 1:
Yeah. I wonder if maybe there's a, for the sake of this year, there's almost an asterix that we put on some on the ones who are passive, you know, or passive primarily or something like that. And then in next year, maybe it'll, it'll be a little bit clearer. I think as a researcher, there's always this period where you see things changing, but there's not quite change to fully articulate it, like as a thing. And I think that we're there. Like we know it's a thing, but like it's not clear where the chips fall yet, I guess, is what I'm trying to say.

Stacia Garr:
Okay. That's, that's all super helpful. So, but to, to Speaker 1's point, you know, Yva and Worklytics over here, and Microsoft Viva, which is obviously a combination of a whole bunch of different products, those are all looking at passive data sources over here on the left. And on the right Medallia is, Qualtrics has some, I don't think Questback has any, I don't think, did Ennova how any passive data do you remember Priyanka?

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Not much.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. Confirmit, not no Macorva I don't think so. Yeah. So that's kind of the distinction on this chart.

Backgrounds of "no" survey vendors

Stacia Garr:
Okay. So then moving to our last one. So these are, these are folks that are, have kind of traditionally swim in, in what feels like slightly different lanes, but are now much more clearly saying we're in the engagement space via non survey methods.

Stacia Garr:
So the home for, for some of, for the ones on the left that's organization view, they do, it's pretty sophisticated, actually extremely sophisticated text analysis to understand, you know, themes, perceptions, et cetera on the far right, we've got Swoop Analytics, which under the hood does ONA. If you look on the top of it, it actually, doesn't, it's not as obvious as for some of the others, like let's say a Polinode, which is very clearly pure ONA but they do ONA to understand engagement and then R Squared is really, they do a combination of these two to understand engagement as well as some other outcomes. So you know, again, kind of back to the point of earlier, is there another chart that's just, you know, scraping of communication data, that's the non survey approach on here potentially on that might be another way that we could think about this. But the idea is trying to open the aperture of folks a little bit to say, you know, look, engagement by and large has meant survey historically. And it's moving forward is not going it's already not totally only meaning survey, but in some instances it's meaning no survey and it's these other approaches as well.

Stacia Garr:
Any thoughts or questions on this one, Or how does that make you all feel like that's a pretty big shift, right? From asking people the questions that we know they do engagement to looking at just their data. Speaker 3?

Speaker 3:
It almost feels like performance management five years ago. Right. I was like, this is the traditional approach. We do this thing. And it goes in this document and we share feedback and surveys are the same thing. It's this formal approach. And we gather feedback and we share the results and we do something about it. So I think it's, it's great to see it moving in this direction. I guess I'm new to these particular vendors. Can do you, can you tell a little bit more, but what they're actually analyzing? Like what data is it that they're getting access to and then producing an output from

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. Priyanka, do you want to take a first swing or do you want me to?

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Yeah, so it's primarily for Organization View it's employee text data and that can be in any form that is already collected by the company. So it may be survey texted, or from a survey that a company, might have run and pulling from there. It might be some other form of feedback that the company might be might've collected. So they don't actually collect the data. All they do is they take the employed text data provided by a company and run their sophisticated text analysis on it. R Squared does mainly thought communication, text analysis or communications data created by employees whether it's a communications tool or emails, jobs, things like that. That's what they analyze. They also do ONA and similar to Swoop both of them do organizational network analysis by looking at collaboration data. So who is collaborating with who looking at that data, that the networks that they're creating being themselves. And Swoop in particular has integrations with Yammer and Facebook workplace. So they collect a lot of employee data from those communications platforms and tools, particularly.

Speaker 3:
Thank you.

Stacia Garr:
And in particular, R Squared claims to have a pretty high level of accuracy when it comes to turnover predicting turnover I don't remember if they made any claims on engagement. I don't recall that they did, but but they are certainly selling this in, in the engagement space. Yeah it's very, this is kind of very on the edge of things. And so, you know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of data ethics and privacy implications and all the rest of that go along with this. Yeah Speaker 4?

Speaker 4:
You just said it. So the technologies are catching up to be able to do this. And then can you just summarize, like how many years have these companies been in business doing this one, a thing, you know, which came first, was it the business plan or the technology so that you can, and then what you just said and there's ethics and other considerations for the future?

Speaker 1:
Yeah. So R Squared I think is about three years old. They came out of a different industry. They were, Oh, I think security, I think like internet security is my recollection, but don't 100% hold me to that. But definitely a background in folks who had a different, who had expertise that could be applied to this space in, in a different way. It's kind of the point. And so on that one, which, which came first, I think they saw a problem and they said, Hey, we've developed texts somewhat similar that could address this problem, but they didn't come there. They're part of a group of vendors or vendor leaders who don't have the HR backgrounds who don't, you know, I think there's, there's a lot of within our industry, a lot of almost unwritten rules of, you know, what's okay and what's not.

Stacia Garr:
And so they're, they're part of a group of folks who are coming in and without knowledge of those rules, which is good and bad, like I'm in many instances, I'm all for breaking the rules. Like let's try things, let's experiment, let's do the rest of that. But I think that some of the, the concerns that our industry has tended to abide by you know, they're getting communicated, but I will say there's others who are in that group. And I'm not saying this particularly about R Square, but in general, I see these vendors get educated, which is like one of the coolest things that we get to do. We get to see them come in and be like, could I do this thing? And then they talk to people like us and then a whole bunch of customers who were like, yeah, maybe not quite that way.

Speaker 1:
And then about 18 months later, they're like data ethics and security are really important. Like, yes, yes they are. So I think, you know, even though this is kind of a long way of getting to what I think your question is like, you know, are they aware of these things? Are they taking these things into account? The industry and customers are educating them. So like none of these vendors can run any farther than a significant group of customers we'll let them run when it comes to things that are on the cutting edge and what I have typically seen as vendors just kind of get pulled back when customers are just like, well, we're not going to do that. Like I get that, you could do that, but we're just not going to do so, Speaker 1?

Speaker 1:
I'm just curious on how on how ONA gets into the experience category. But I think, I wonder if that is your question, cause you highlighted it on the edge and listening to you and thinking about it. I can see that it is and I think that it isn't. So I'm quite curious on to, you know what led you to including it, but as an edge category, because I think that would be instructive

Stacia Garr:
Priyanka?

Priyanka Mehrotra:
Yeah. So I think more than experience, I would say they're leaning towards engagement right now, the way that they're doing it is looking at collaboration data to see how engaged an employee is by looking at their interaction levels, their communication levels, things like that. So for example, one of the use cases that Swoop highlighted for us was that they use data from Yammer, for a customer to see what was the level of interaction and communication during a webcast event for a company that had just shifted to remote working and that they use sort of like a standard to say that okay employees are really engaged because they're messaging and they're really on Yammer and our Yammer is going to berserk because of the amount of communications that it's listening. So that's how they're looking at engagement in this nontraditional sense.

Speaker 1:
Yeah. Okay. That makes sense.

Stacia Garr:
I think this is at least for me, it's some of these vendors those who say they're doing engagement, like it makes me uncomfortable. Cause like I have a very clear in my mind definition, like as a social scientist of what engagement means and that it is, but I also recognize that that's very like 2005, right? Determine engagement has just been trod over by everyone, I mean anything. And so as we think about this market I think that we just have to recognize that the way folks are thinking about engagement is different and what's most important is for the customer to understand what that means, because that may be, that may be great for them. You know? So some of the things that the ONA vendors in particular are good at is when, you know, one company acquires another figuring out where, how are people interacting and connected to each other. And, and what's important to keep in place what's important to strengthen et cetera. And that's a form of engagement, you know, how people are connected to each other. So I think we just have to kind of, as I tell my daughter have a little flex brain here, even though it might make us a little bit uncomfortable.

Are we seeing shifts in how to maintain employee engagement/experience with more hybrid work model?

Stacia Garr:
Okay. So we have roughly 10 minutes left and we did get some questions. So we'll go ahead and pop those up. I will say many of these questions, we don't necessarily have the answers to, so this is very much so a discussion, but since they were submitted, we wanted to make sure that we brought them up. Okay. Are we seeing shifts in how to maintain employee engagement experience with more, with more hybrid work model? So I would say that we're certainly seen shifts in measurement of employee engagement and experience. And we saw a lot of folks try a whole bunch of different things over the course of the last year. So whether that's, you know, the collaboration discussion or kind of more open collaboration and open communication about what's happening in the organization you know, I think we saw kind of the burst of happy hours and connectivity, and then it feels like that's kind of died off a bit.

Stacia Garr:
So I think this is still an open question that people are trying to figure out. And then I think also they're trying to figure out what is it going to look like when you have a subset of employees who are in the office during a certain period of time versus others? So I think right now we're seeing a lot of experimentation, a lot of ideation, but obviously most people are not back in the office yet, or they're not really back in that hybrid environment yet. So I don't think we've seen any, anything definitive. That's kind of my, my sense. How about others? Or maybe let me change the question. Have any of you all seen anything cool that you're like, Oh yeah, that could really work. Or that's something that I think is I haven't seen before. I know there's a lot of you on the phone, so feel free to come off, mute. Speaker 5. You came off.

Speaker 6:
So I don't know if it's something I would consider like super innovative as much as it's something that I hope sticks, but it's this notion of bringing the employee experience to the employee wherever they are. And I think before, if you want it to be a part of the culture of a company, particularly a large organization or one, that's a small kind of tight knit startup, you have to be with those people. And it's not to say, you have to be like, there is a hard requirement. It's more you miss out on so much of the institutional knowledge and comradery and kind of connection building that is really helpful. But I think the pandemic caused a lot of companies and people to think about how do we meet that, how do we take all that investment we've made in snacks and table and pool tables and stuff, and bring that to the home because we can't give everyone a pool table. And so I like the trend of meeting people, kind of what that experience at home and little things, you know, I've seen little stuff like just sending people, Postmates gift cards or Uber eats gift cards to grab lunch because we used to have catered lunch on Fridays or something. You know, it's sending them gift baskets saying, just thinking of you, you know, I saw one and it's something I got actually at two years ago, but it's something that is completely applicable now, which is, it was a succulent that said life would SUC without you. Adorable. Like it was the card made my day more than the actual succulent. But I think that that organizations are making people feel valued in many ways. But one of the things that I think is really working is just those unexpected delighters. And I hope that's something that continues because I think that's something that makes work feel much more personal. Despite not being able to have that intimacy or that closeness of physicality.

Stacia Garr:
I love that. Yeah, Speaker 3.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, it definitely has seen some creativity in our teams. We just released a big project. And so the VP of the, our technology group ordered hats with the name of the project on them for the entire team to surprise the person who had spearheaded it. And so now every time there's a meeting for that project. And so getting creative in, in the box of your zoom meeting or your teams meeting and what people can actually see and participate in. So I've seen a lot of that. I think the extension of that is supporting the whole person versus the employee. And what we've seen is what I've been calling for the last year, uninvited authenticity into people's homes has allowed us to open that conversation to now. I no longer just support you getting your work done, but I support you managing your entire life so that you can get your work done. And so I, I definitely think that there's been a switch there on the focus and I'd love to see that continue for sure.

Stacia Garr:
Great. Yeah. I love that.

Stacia Garr:
Anyone else.

How can people preserve serendipity and watercooler talk remotely?

Stacia Garr:
Great. Thank you. Well, I think that one ties in actually pretty well to this, this next one, around this concept of how do we preserve serendipity and watercooler chats remotely? So I've seen a few technologies that are trying to do this. So things where, for instance, you can kind of effectively walk into the coffee shop if you will, or walk into the office. And it's kind of a virtual environment that kind of looks like it and you just, you know, like sit yourself down to work, right. And you're there. And then people can see who else is in the space. And, and if you wanted to like, just bump into someone, you just move your little avatar up to them. And then in that instance, both your cameras go on and you're talking. And so by going to basically into this space, you acknowledged that I'm open to these serendipitous interactions, but you're still getting work done while, you know, in between these different interactions. So that's one thing that I've seen folks do that it seems like it has some potential at least. I'm wondering, have you all seen anything else?

Speaker 2:
I think we've certainly seen that exact use case Stacia being used really, really well at events as well. So the kind of breakout rooms at events where you can go up to different vendors and speak to them in that kind of similarly serendipitous setting that's yeah. Seems like a really exciting use case to be able to deploy that within the organization

Speaker 8:
As well. So yeah. Very cool.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 5:
The other software I've seen is donut.com, D O N U T a and instead of moving your avatar is, and it being on you to initiate it actually initiates for you. So it randomly starts setting you up for 10 minute meetings. And I think that to me is much more of a watercooler experience. Cause you don't know who you're going to run into. But it does allow for that continuous watercooler chat, which is kind of cool.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. That's a great suggestion.

Speaker 2:
I think you can set up a similar thing on, on Slack as well to do that right. That you can kind of set that up across the organization or whoever's in the Slack different Slack channels and it'll automatically bumped them together, which is really cool as well. Yeah.

Stacia Garr:
Cool. Yeah. Is that just a bot in Slack?

Speaker 2:
Yeah, exactly.

Given there are so many useful & varied solutions, how are companies creating a seamless experience?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. Cool. All right. Then let's go ahead. Given there are so many useful and varied solutions, how are companies creating a seamless employee experience? Well, that is multi-billion dollar question. So I mean, I guess kind of stepping back, kidding that I think that we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of it, of a tech ecosystem and, and having a clear perspective on what the employee experience needs to be and then your tech ecosystem matching that need, or that experience you're trying to create. I think that you know, that's obviously the 30,000 foot level. Then there's as we get further down, you know, how are you making sure that these different technologies are integrating together? I think that is, there are a number of ways to approach it.

Stacia Garr:
I think every vendor has some way that they claim kind of makes it so that it's seamless and easy. And so for some of them, it absolutely is. I think that one of the things we've, you know, Vizier is doing some work on this and I think it's meaningful, there are some vendors who have been really working to kind of create their ecosystems where they do clearly work together well. And they've put an effort, extra effort. And so potentially thinking about if you love one system and seeing who's kind of already in their partner ecosystem, who might fill your techniques as a way to begin your pyritization efforts. I think that can help with creating this seamless employee experience. But I think that, you know, this is obviously a very complex challenge that folks are facing and unfortunately given that complexity, it kind of depends on the individual situation. Anybody have anything to add to that?

Speaker 7:
Well, one thing that is happening and probably will continue to be a trend, is this stuff showing up in the work tech. So being, having the experience show up in Slack, Teams, and Viva so that it, even though behind the scenes platforms, there can be many, many of them, but you know, they're creating apps so that they, you know, show up in the flow of work. Yeah.

Stacia Garr:
Great. Speaker 2?

Difficulties between people analytics & employee experience?

Speaker 2:
It's kind of similar to Speaker 1's previous categorization comment. But I wondered if you'd seen or sensed any difficulties in terms of the customer within the organization between people analytics and employee experience when the two teams or departments are distinct. So how did EX vendors manage when those two teams aren't necessarily working very well together and who are they selling to primarily and what are the kind of challenges there?

Stacia Garr:
I think that the first first thing is, is what kind of EX vendor is it right? Is it, is it a service now or is it a, you know, a Medallia cause they obviously their primary customers are going be different folks. And then, you know, in terms of kind of what does that look like together? Our advice is always to run it through people analytics just because you're looking to, they've got a pulse on so much other data that you wouldn't necessarily want that to be just stuck in one part of the organization. So even if, you know, to use your example, Speaker 2, the engagement and the people analytics folks are maybe not playing as nicely together as they should. Ultimately people analytics I think is kind of the source of truth or will be over time. And so if I'm a vendor, that's where I would be trying to drive the focus. You know, obviously you work with whatever customers you're working with, but I'm trying to kind of keep that focus over on the people analytics team would be my thought.

Speaker 1:
Just a quick kind of pile on to the conversation. One thing I think if you're an EX vendor and your EX people are not connected to your PA people you're likely to orchestrate things that don't count. Like one of the things we're seeing, especially with the Medallia relationship is the data tells you the, where it makes sense to listen. If you just think about experiences, experience, like you can listen everywhere. I see a lot sort of back to this question is like, how are companies creating the experiences? Like half of them are wondering around like wondering where to start. I don't think we've got the answer of how yet. I think we're still questing on a how to start. And I'm one of the things we're seeing specifically with the PA team is like, okay, well, which populations do we have, no do we have kind of materials signals that there is a, there's a reason to go, listen, we're not just listening for listening sake. So is it onboarding, is it promotions? Is it new managers? Is it all these different places like that? The situational data starts to tell you where it's important to listen. I cannot see you being successful without that really good understanding of the dynamics in your business. So otherwise you're going to put listening and for listening sake and yeah, you know, people get what you get, you get the Alice in Wonderland outcome. Like where are we going? I don't know. It doesn't matter.

Stacia Garr:
Okay.

Speaker 1:
So yeah, it's a great question because it's often not the people on the EX team that should be making the experience process. So they have to be integral to the how and why and where, there's personal view and what we're seeing, what we're seeing from the conversations we were in.

Stacia Garr:
Cool. Thank you.

Speaker 2:
Awesome. Thank you.

Conclusion

Stacia Garr:
All right. So we are just at a time there was one question, but I don't, we're not going to cover that one. So I just want to plug our next Q&A is going to be on the purpose, purpose driven organizations work that we did. So for those, you know, we did an entire year of study, first research and this podcast series, which we just wrapped up on organizational purpose. And so we're going to do Q&A session on that. So if that's of interest, that's April 15th there's two other events I wanted to flag for you all. If you have interest in attending one, maybe not as relevant for this audience, but potentially is on learning content. So how do you think about learning content?

Stacia Garr:
What content different audiences need, when they need it, why they need it, how to deliver it, et cetera. So if you have learning folks or yourself for learning folk, that cares about that. We're going to do a roundtable on that on April 13th. And then the other one, which probably is more relevant to this audience is a roundtable on DEIB. So diversity equity, inclusion, belonging, and skills. So we just kicked off a study where we're going to be looking at what are the skills that an organization needs to be more diverse, equitable, and focused on inclusion and belonging. And how do we think about those groups of skills? How do we think about how we drive that change across organizations? So that'll be around table that we are doing on April 22nd.

Stacia Garr:
So if you all have interested in that one we'd love to have you participate. And then I will give a plug for one more piece of research we have going, which is on DEIB and Analytics. So we are looking for research interviews for that. We will have a roundtable because we've got a lot going on right now. We're kind of pacing that one a little bit slower. So they'll probably be in May. But looking at the intersection between diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and analytics, and how we make it stronger, better look at the data we need, et cetera. So lots of stuff going on around here. So thank you all so much for coming today and always appreciate the really active participation from everyone in the conversation and hope that we see you on another one very soon. Take care.

Written by

Stacia Garr Redthread Research
Stacia Garr
Co-Founder & Principal Analyst

Stacia is a Co-founder and Principal Analyst for RedThread Research and focuses on employee engagement/experience, leadership, DE&I, people analytics, and HR technology. A frequent speaker and writer, her work has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal as well as in numerous HR trade publications. She has been listed as a Top 100 influencer in HR Technology and in D&I. Stacia has an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics.

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