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Microsoft Workplace Analytics: A Guide for HR Professionals

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“Microsoft Workplace Analytics takes anonymised data to help identify workplace trends and pain points, and how teams can deliver more impact.” – Thea Fineren, Chief People Officer, Advania.

2020 saw an unprecedented global shift to remote working, ushering in a rapid influx of new norms and working practices. Organisations that weathered these changes did so by leveraging the potential of technology to adapt and survive.

Beyond processes and operations, technology is also being used to help people adapt to the monumental changes that have taken place in their working lives. Although many businesses responded quickly and seamlessly to support their people to work from home, the effects of this shift can linger.

Consequently, employee wellbeing is currently a major focus for many HR professionals as businesses strive to ensure their people have the tools and support they need to do their best work.

As with many business processes, the combination of technology and data can provide a solution. Enter Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics, one of the most powerful and empowering tools available to HR leaders.

The challenge for HR Teams

As remote working becomes the norm, HR heads must find different ways to support and engage personnel. Employee surveys offer valuable insights, but they rely on participation.

So, how do HR teams help their organisations adapt to change and become more resilient? The construct of ‘organisational resilience’ hinges on:

  • The wellbeing of people.
  • The ability of leaders and managers to steer teams through these times in an agile and nimble way.
  • The connectedness to customers and suppliers to keep your business running.

Insights on your organisation’s resilience and people’s experiences already exist inside Microsoft 365 technologies. The challenge lies in surfacing and interpreting the data in a meaningful way. How do you:

  • Identify and quantify ways of working across your organisation?
  • Understand how people, teams and your business are affected by these ways of working?
  • Measure the cultural aspects of work that inspire innovation, encourage a growth mindset, and accelerate change?

Empowerment, connectedness, engagement, autonomy, and influence are all essential elements of great employee experiences. Improving them begins with measuring where you are now.

From there, you can implement a three-phase approach – analyse, operationalise and scale, to drive evidence-based decisions.

Meaningful change starts with data

Fundamentally, you must understand your current coordinates before you can define the road ahead. It begins with data. According to the CIPD, people analytics, or HR analytics and workforce analytics, applies people-related data in analytical processes to solve business problems. People analytics uses people-data collected by HR systems (e.g., payroll and absence management) combined with business information, such as operations performance data. Ultimately, the data drives evidence-based decisions. So, what if you could supplement employee surveys with other insights? Insights based on facts and not conjecture? What could you achieve with a rich understanding of how work takes place and how it impacts the employee experience and welfare? This challenge is where Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics (WpA) can become one of the most powerful – and empowering – tools available to HR leaders.

What is Microsoft Workplace Analytics, and how does it help HR teams?

Your people and technology landscape

Every day, countless interactions and activities happen across your organisation, most enabled by technology. Each occurrence, in isolation, may not tell much of a story. But combined, these events can form revealing and useful insights into working habits and preferences and how your people use the technologies you invest in.

Microsoft Graph – the AI component of Microsoft Workplace Analytics

Applying artificial intelligence (AI), helps organisations understand how work gets done. It enables HR leaders to explain and predict the impact of everyday actions and then drive and measure change.   Microsoft Graph surfaces data in the Workplace Analytics tool. This can equip you with actionable information which you can use to:
  • Quantify the impact of day-to-day activities by leveraging fresh insights.
  • Guide individuals and teams to better working habits and norms through personalised experiences and set goals based on predicted business outcomes.
  • Embed a cycle of discovery and change into your organisation through a regular cadence of measuring impact and optimising how people work. Better, faster, and more confident decision-making leads to successful business outcomes.
  • Support the growth and learning of employees, where continuous improvement becomes part of your organisation’s DNA, benefiting people every day.
  • Respond quickly to changing market conditions and other external and internal forces. Fostering a data-driven organisation that is fluid, agile, and harnesses the power of insights for transformational change.

Realise the value of workplace intelligence

Driving resilience, recover and innovation in HR

With Workplace Analytics, your organisation can:

  • Optimise organisational agility through understanding the workplace behaviours that drive success.
  • Improve employee experiences by cultivating an engaged, efficient, and happy workforce.
  • Strengthen customer focus by advancing initiatives that achieve customer loyalty and breakthrough sales performance.

Workplace Analytics enables leaders to respond quickly to change, recover from any disruption to their processes and take advantage of strategic imperatives to reimagine the future.

Insights that drive business outcomes

To gain rapid insights, Microsoft has product-based tools and dashboards that serve each element of the ‘respond, recover and reimagine’ journey, including:

  • Business continuity dashboards, showing how disruption impacts employees and changes behaviours.
  • Manager and individual plans to help set and reach new collaboration goals.
  • Behavioural nudges, digests, and prompts automatically help embed healthy, sustainable, and productive practices into people’s days and weeks.

Addressing privacy concerns around employee data

With the increasing use of data to gain insights, business have also inevitably faced questions about privacy.

Reassurance and transparency about which data is used and why is an essential part of providing reassurance and answering these concerns, explains Thea Fineren, Chief People Officer at Advania.

And getting people on board by communicating the benefits can also be valuable.

“It helps you to understand the potential pressure points in teams. It enables you to identify them early, intervene and adapt, and be on the front foot with workforce planning,” she adds.

“Practically, that might mean adding more heads if the team is too lean or succession planning if the tool highlights a flight risk.

“It’s a heads up on pressure points, but using facts rather than hunches, which often you may not act on until it’s too late.”

Offering assurance through compliance and privacy framework

Employee concerns around the use of their data can be allayed through a proactive programme of information and communication. Build trust by including employee representatives in the process, where appropriate.

It’s vital to emphasise that all Microsoft Workplace Analytics data is already being captured; Workplace Analytics is purely surfacing it in intelligent and highly controlled ways.

The second point to stress is that all data is anonymised – Microsoft Workplace Analytics does not identify individual people.

Workplace Intelligence Trust Framework


Start your journey with a complimentary Microsoft Workplace Analytics Workshop

As a Microsoft partner and change management specialist, we are enabling organisations to leverage Workplace Analytics by:

  • Helping you to understand the tool
  • See what business areas you need to focus on
  • Understand what your business change activities should be
  • Measure the results of change


And we can help you with an internal comms plan so you can manage questions your people may have empathetically and assuredly.

Register for your free Art of the Possible session here or click the button below.

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