No items found.

Unlocking the power of people data

Jenny Luo
Date Published:
February 2023
minute read
Unlocking the power of people data

Enabling our employees to be empowered and productive is on top of the agenda for any People leader. But how do we achieve that at scale? It all starts with people data. Together with Sana, we hosted a live session to explore the topic with investor, advisor, and Google Specialist Leader Johan Eriksson. 

Here’s the full recap. 

People Analytics is a secret HR superpower

People analytics is the practice of collecting and transforming HR data. Using it can help us understand trends in company culture, employee engagement rates, and how employees define a great place to work. And in the end, guide people and business decisions.

But starting a new people analytics function isn’t easy. In a busy HR team, finding the capacity to create something new is tough. And where do you start? For example, how do teams take eNPS scores, and use them to guide business strategy?

Uncover new HR insights

A sustainable business can’t rely on vacation-time to sustain the energy of its workforce. Companies need to know how best to look after its employees, all-year round. Constant customer satisfaction requires constant employee satisfaction and energetic teams. But what are the signals that can help companies to proactively support their employees? And how do we create products that customers love, while looking after our teams? 

This is where people analytics can help. People analytics can help HR teams to explore potential correlations between seemingly unrelated areas. Take social relationships and productivity. Maybe employees with busier social calendars are more energized and productive? Energized employees are vital for hyper-growth companies. Knowing that social activities generate positive energy might lead you to organizing more team events. The insight drives the tactic.

Test hypotheses that drive HR outcomes

Using data to drive decisions in this way is powerful. But only if the data is accurate and we read it correctly. Without a solid grounding, we risk falling for the traps of easy wins and false positives. It’s about the quality of your data, and the intention of your questions.

Asking questions of data is easier when you have the right tools and features. Let’s imagine you’re trying to understand what drives employee satisfaction. With the right platform integrations, you could understand the relationship between employee satisfaction and vacation time. Perhaps the  data shows that your most productive employees take all of their vacation allowance — and stay offline. That’s another interesting learning.. But how can you use that insight to make changes that help your employees and your company? Now you have a hypothesis that nudging more employees to take vacation will drive employee satisfaction.

So how do you validate that hypothesis? Again, it’s all about the integrations. An integrated HRIS, messaging platform, and LMS could automate a micro-learning that’s triggered to a percentage point. Say it’s half way through the year, and someone’s only taken 10% of their allowance. The employee receives a ping in Slack or Google, nudging them to book more vacation. Say two weeks go by, and your employee forgets to book their vacation. Your integrated LMS delivers a micro-learning that explains the benefits of vacation time to the individual, and the company. The learning could direct your employee to your vacation-booking portal.

Start from where you’re at

Getting started with people analytics can feel overwhelming. We say — start small and catch some quick wins. Use existing datasets, ask clearly defined questions. Once you’ve mastered the techniques, you can think bigger. Here's how:

Set the baseline

All super-insights start with a simple baseline. So start with the data that you have. Pull as many reports from your HR stack as you can and see what’s available. eNPS, vacation time, learning courses completed, benefits usage, attendance—it’s all potentially useful.

With your data in hand, ask yourself:

  • What can your people analytics tell you today?
  • Based on these data, what changes can you make today?
  • Look at these changes you could make - could a little more data create something more valuable?
  • What else do you need to learn from your people?
  • How will that help the business? Short-term to long-term - what changes do you see?
  • Are there additions to your HR tech stack that could help you to scale your insights?

With these insights in hand, it’s time to understand where you want to go next.

List your top 10 questions 

Now you know your strengths and gaps, create the top 10 questions that people data can answer. How do you find the questions? First off, trust yourself. You know where improvements will make the biggest difference. Ask:

  • What problems am I seeing? 
  • How can HR help employees before problems start? 
  • How could analytics scale the ambition for my strategy? 

Do involve broader management. But only after reviewing your own wants and needs. When you’re ready to bring in wider stakeholders, ask them: how could people data strengthen and empower the management teams? What problems could people data help them to solve?

Test rather than guess

Now you’re ready to go from having a question, to wanting some answers. The best way to make progress is to start testing ideas. 

Maybe you have a hypothesis that people who engage with learning more regularly are more likely to gain promotion. Here’s how you (in)validate it:

  • First, write down your hypothesis. Say, ‘I think that people who actively engage with learning are more likely to achieve promotions more quickly than people who are moderately engaged with learning’. 
  • Next, pick a unit of time to measure. You could use 6 months, as it’s long enough for patterns to emerge.
  • Export the relevant data from your LMS.
  • You should be able to see people's engagement rates, and calculate the mean average of employee engagement with learning.
  • Now, look for the outliers. Are there people who are significantly more engaged than their peers? How many people?
  • Look at their HR data. Are these people achieving a faster rate of promotion? If not, can you make guesses about why?

If experimentation is outside your comfort zone, reframe the challenge as an opportunity. You’ll learn new skills and find solutions that can make it easier for HR to deliver support efficiently, and at scale.

Embrace best practice

Don’t fall for the quick wins

Working with data means learning to interrogate it. We’re all victims of bias, which means we sometimes see what we want to see. In the sciences, that’s known as ‘fishing for data’ – looking for the one point that will prove your point. 

“Always look for the outliers in your data. That’s what’s truly interesting. That’s where there’s room for conversation and learning.” Johan Eriksson

Take the team X at Google. Recently, they noticed that Google’s User Satisfaction was showing about a 10%pts increase. That’s a big jump. And, even though it would have been nice to accept the win, the number was misleading. A closer look at the data showed a deviation of 13%, both higher and lower from the mean average. In addition to this there was a very likely sampling bias, making the year over year comparison irrelevant. So not only was the actual number incorrect, but also the implied increase.

If you’re going to work with people data, everyone needs to know their quantitative from their qualitative. Schedule data-literacy training, to help the relevant teams learn how to engage with your strategy. Educating employees helps teams to stay curious and creative when looking at data. And curiosity matters. That’s where the super-insights lie.

Build a data warehouse

Get data on your side. Make it usable. Integrating your data will increase your ability to search it, experiment with it, and find insightful connections. For example, integrating your HR tech stack with your LMS can allow you to see new patterns. 

Sana’s integration with Winningtemp can make this work simple. Winningtemp’s dashboard can give users a top-level view on employee engagement. With these insights in hand, HR and L&D teams can create learnings that are part of a people-first HR strategy. 


People analytics offers HR teams the opportunity to look at existing problems in new ways. To help everyone as we continue to adapt. By learning more about our employees, we can improve their wellbeing, now, and into the future.

Many thanks again to Johan Eriksson and Jacob Österberg for their time and insights. 

Thanks also to Jenny Luo - Sana's marketing manager - for being a guest author.

Click here for more on Winningtemp and Sana’s powerful integration.

Sed posuere consectetur est at lobortis. Maecenas sed diam eget risus varius blandit sit amet non magna. Cras justo odio, dapibus ac facilisis in, egestas eget quam. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit. Donec id elit non mi porta gravida at eget metus.

Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit. Donec sed odio dui. Nullam id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit. Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Fusce dapibus, tellus ac cursus commodo, tortor mauris condimentum nibh, ut fermentum massa justo sit amet risus. Vestibulum id ligula porta felis euismod semper. Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor.

H2 - id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit.

H3 - id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit.

H4 - id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit.

H5 - id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit.
H6 - id dolor id nibh ultricies vehicula ut id elit.
Cras justo odio, dapibus ac facilisis in, egestas eget quam. Sed posuere consectetur est at lobortis. Maecenas faucibus mollis interdum.

Sed posuere consectetur est at lobortis. Maecenas sed diam eget risus varius blandit sit amet non magna. Nullam quis risus eget urna mollis ornare vel eu leo. Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue.

  • Praesent commodo cursus magna, vel scelerisque nisl consectetur et.
  • Praesent commodo cursus magna, vel scelerisque nisl consectetur et.
  • Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Donec id elit non mi porta gravida at eget metus.
  • Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Donec id elit non mi porta gravida at eget metus.
  • Malesuada
Jenny Luo
About the Author
About the Author
About the Author
Om författaren
Jenny Luo
Jenny Luo is the Marketing Manager at Sana Labs and leads their performance marketing and demand generation efforts.

Hear about our product

Integer posuere erat a ante venenatis dapibus posuere velit aliquet.

INterested in Winningtemp?

If you want to learn more about how Winningtemp can help you improve your employee engagement, why not have a look at our tool in action?


Vårt oppdrag er å hjelpe ledere og medarbeidere mot en mer effektiv og suksessfull arbeidsplass. Hvis du synes dette er spennende, bør vi snakke sammen.


Vi använder vetenskap och teknik för att hjälpa ledare bygga en engagerad och produktiv arbetsplats som kan skalas upp globalt




Les mer