Microsoft recently commissioned a study by research company Forrester which found that 96 percent of executives view increasing employee productivity as a top priority for their organisation in the next year.
But according to the same study, many companies lack the tools and understanding to interpret and use them to help make strategic business decisions.
This week Microsoft announced they’re releasing a Workplace Analytics add-on for Office 365.
Workplace Analytics taps into Office 365 email and calendar metadata, including to/from data, subject lines and timestamps, to help companies see how employees collaborate, and on which tasks they spend the most time.
Managers can explore activities and trends within the business, including analysing time spent on emailing, in meetings, after-hours activity and network size. They can also create custom queries and use filters – such as for region, role or function.
There are several ways in which Workplace Analytics is already benefitting organisations (utilising the non-Office 365 version). One Microsoft customer used the solution to identify how the company’s top sales people worked – looking at factors such as the amount of time spent with customers, and the size of the sales person’s internal network – and then encouraged the rest of the sales organisation to copy their lead.
Workplace Analytics can also be used to drive a cultural change with managers; 1:1 manager time, the level of leadership given to employees, and how work is distributed across an organisation can all be measured.
Elsewhere, a recent study shows almost 65 percent of UK workers surveyed aren’t being paid for overtime worked, and only a third of British workers say that they typically leave work on time. Workplace Analytics can provide insight into working patterns to allow managers to find improved working practices.
The collaboration insights feature also means users can analyse the metadata attached to employee calendar items to calculate travel time associated with meetings.
In addition, Microsoft has built in privacy and compliance capabilities to the software, so customers own their Office 365 data and the software only uses metadata that is aggregated and de-identified.
“We believe building a true digital, data-driven enterprise requires organizations to empower and connect their people across everything—people, processes, data and systems,” said Kathleen Hogan, chief people officer at Microsoft. “Our HR Business Insights group is using Workplace Analytics across a variety of initiatives—from understanding the behaviours driving increased employee engagement, to identifying the qualities of top-performing managers who are leading Microsoft’s cultural transformation from within. We believe people analytics is a competitive necessity for any HR team.”