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#31 Kraft Heinz’s Serena Huang on Retaining Top Talent with People Analytics

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In the age of data-driven decision making, an adage still bears true: People are a company’s most valuable asset. No matter how technologically advanced and forward thinking your company is, it cannot operate without the individuals that make the organization go. So how are companies using data and analytics to not only make better decisions at the company level, but also improve the employee experience? And how are data and analytics predicting trends for the future of work that includes employee well-being and greater inclusivity?

Serena Huang is the Global Head of People Analytics at the Kraft Heinz Company. On this episode of The Data Chief, she shares insights into her work and why companies are turning to this important function to design more thoughtful employee experiences.

Main Takeaways

  • Start with the problem, not the data: When solving a problem, don’t start with your data. Instead, understand what solution you are trying to solve for and then design your experiments around that problem. Once that’s in place, you can start gathering directional data that will lead to a solution. 
  • Share your progress and momentum: Transparency is key, so when you are conducting your analysis make sure the data you are collecting from employees not only benefits the company, but also the employee itself. If your employee feels as if the line of questioning does not benefit them, they are less likely to participate. Your data gathering process must be a two-way street that shows results both for the employees and the company.
  • Create value beyond the obvious: Data and analytics should always be on the lookout for new ways to bring value to the business. For Kraft Heinz, this meant measuring different scenarios such as exit interviews, engagement surveys, and understanding why employees left, to create a more holistic view of the employee experience.

Key quotes

“The pandemic has accelerated the progress in people analytics in many companies. It’s become more important to stay connected with employees and to know how they’re doing. That has really accelerated the importance across many organizations.”

“People data is very messy. We have to pay attention to data quality before you can make useful analytics. Or at least in parallel, address some of the data quality issues as you go. Standardizing processes so that you are talking about the definition of a human capital metric the same way [is a] journey we’ve been on for a long time, and focusing on data quality has paid off for us.”

“Don’t start with data, start with the problem that you want to solve. If you have a retention problem, you want to look at your turnover data for employees. You don’t boil the ocean and try to make sure every single data element in your system is accurate, but you focus on the turnover issue at hand.”

“We can’t improve what we don’t measure.”

“Something that we always ask ourselves is, ‘What’s in it for the employees?’ Whenever we’re collecting additional data elements or pushing folks to go into the system to update, if there’s nothing for the employees, it’s probably not going to get done. We need to make sure in our communication, if it’s a push for additional data that needs to be gathered, we’re very clear on how the data will be used and how it will provide benefits to employees.”

About Serena

Dr. Serena Huang is currently the Global Head of People Analytics at the Kraft Heinz Company. Serena is a thought leader in people analytics, HR technology, future of work, and employee experience with deep expertise spanning large multinationals including GE and Deloitte. Her recent interviews appeared on Workforce.com and Rallyware. Dr. Huang is also a long-time practitioner of mindfulness and leads guided meditations in corporate settings to boost employee well-being.

As a data analytics executive, Dr. Huang is passionate about leading change, building high-performing global teams, and helping business leaders see data as an asset in large organizations. She excels at showing executives the “art of the possible” through both 1-on-1 dialogues and facilitated hands-on workshops, and co-creating customizable, scalable solutions in predictive analytics in HR, Workplace Strategy, Supply Chain and Litigation domains. Dr. Huang has built and led on-shore/off-shore analytics teams and capabilities from the ground up in highly matrixes multi-national corporations over the past 10 years. She welcomes global opportunities outside the U.S. or U.S. companies with significant global footprint.

Episode 32