People Analytics guides employers to keep homeworkers engaged and productive

Posted by Crunchr on 5/4/20 2:33 PM


Millennials want social interaction, flexible working hours and focus. Older employees look for better collaboration tools, an ergonomic home office and frequent updates from their manager. What works for one, seems less effective for the other. People Analytics shows that listening to what employees need and personalizing the employer response increases the impact with 23%, compared to a simple one-size-fits-all.

The headlines of our research are also published in newspaper ‘Het Financieele Dagblad’ (article in Dutch). This LinkedIn article will be updated continuously as we see hundreds of results coming in every day.

What support do employees need whilst working from home? And how do companies keep their employees engaged and productive? A research consortium initiated by Crunchr People Analytics, Insurer Nationale-Nederlanden and HR advisory firms AWVN and Focus Orange have conducted a large-scale study to answer exactly these questions.

Important observations:

  • We launched Open Research to understand how the new homeworkers they feel and what the employer can do to support them. The participants played a gamified conjoint analysis game in Crunchr where they ranked all possible interventions.
  • For the average homeworker: collaboration tools, flexible working hours and social interaction are most important. But preliminary analysis also show significant spread in the answers: what works for one, may not work for the other.
  • With Crunchr, we calculated 4 personalized support interventions that show 22.5% higher effectiveness than a one-size-fits-all.
  • Does working from home have negative impact on productivity? 26% of the respondents say it does. Also, 26% say that it impacts their mental health. These two groups show correlation but are not the same (16.1% says they both see negative impact on productivity and on their mental health).
  • 65% of all respondents are concerned about the economic impact of the pandemic (of whom 40% are very concerned). 90% is satisfied with how the employer is responding. 83% is satisfied to they manage to work from home.
  • Note this is a running survey with at this moment over 1,200 respondents. Results and observations will be updated frequently.

What can employers do for employees to keep them productive and engaged?

Let's start by explaining how we collected the results. We asked employees who are now working from home due to COVID-19, to play a conjoint analysis game in Crunchr. They had to order 16 items (see below), to how much each support intervention would help them.

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Each item has definitions and the game forced the participants to really think what is most important. The position on the top (most important) gets 7 points, the position on the bottom gets 1 point. Below are the average results (not filtered on particular engagement or demographic).

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Not every homeworker has the same needs

From the summary of the results (see above), you might think that collaboration tools (Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc) and flexible working hours are most important. However, looking at the spread of the answers we see the following:

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This gives the first indication that what is important to one person, might not be equally important to the other. In this anonymous research study, we asked the participants to fill out some demographics. These allow us to better understand the needs for every group.

If we zoom in on participants up to age 35 (blue) and compare them to the benchmark (orange), we see that social interaction and focus become more important.

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So what should employers do to support the homeworkers? People Analytics helps with the answers!

The mistake most HR teams make is that they base their action on the average results. They assume that the average results are effective for the average homeworker. But an average worker does not exist. There are different personas. So to design effective support interventions for the new homeworkers, we need more than just average and slicing/dicing.

We experimented with cluster analysis. We asked Crunchr to calculate four different propositions to help the new homeworker. The results are surprising. The one-size-fits-all results (for the non-existent average homeworker) yield an average match of 51.1%. When Crunchr designs four personalized interventions, the impact increases up to 73.6%.

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The visualization shows nicely how support can be different by persona. For example, 25.3% of the respondents are matched against proposition 1. The impact of support interventions increases from 51.1% to 67.5%. Compared to the one-size-fits-all, flexible working hours and social interaction drop below the midpoint.

So how do homeworkers feel?

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We also asked the respondents how they feel. As you can see from these graphs, also here a spread. We are currently conducting a deep dive on these results.

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Designing Interventions

The cool thing now is that we can start combining all results to answer powerful questions:

"Who are the people where productivity is impacted most and what can the employer do to help them?". The brief answer:

  • These are mostly people who live alone or with roommates, slightly more females over males and in the age range up to 44 years old. Surprisingly not only millennials!
  • This group is less worried about the economic situation than the benchmark (-5.8%).
  • And to help this group, focus on social interaction, flexible working hours and updates from managers. Probably personal check-ins. It seems that generic company updates are 10.4% less effective.

(as this research is unfolding, we are continuously updating the insights)

Media Coverage:

CHRO MagazineHet Financieele DagbladAM MagazineSchade magazineVVPonlineInfinanceRisk&Business

Read the summary of the results here.

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