The Moral Imperative of People Analytics

The people analytics industry and community are growing at an increasing pace. The dual promise of a more productive and engaged workforce for employers and a better employee experience for workers is fueling the proliferation of corporate people analytics teams and HR-tech startups. It is an exciting time to be in this space as the very nature of employment is re-invented on the basis of data-driven analytics and software that enhances collaboration and takes the drudgery out of work.

The search for improved HR programs and talent outcomes via the application of statistics, social science and technology imbues people analytics with an aura of positivity and objectivity. People analytics teams are virtually omniscient in terms of their access to employee profiles (via HR systems), feelings (via engagement surveys) and how they act (via Organizational Network Analysis, for example). Information is power and GDPR is a timely reminder that this power comes with considerable responsibility. 

Surely people analytics teams have other important – even moral – obligations with respect to the work they engage in, how they do that work and how the results of their work are communicated and used. How ought they act in the face of a dilemma involving zero-sum situations between employer and employee; are they purely scientists or do they represent the voice of the employee as HR professionals? As they frame insights as stories, how do they choose which elements to include and which to downplay; is it news or editorial? As work is disaggregated into tasks done and supervised by software, are jobs being de-humanized?

 This session will explore these themes – without veering too deeply into epistemology, metaphysics or ethics – through practical examples of people analytics work and technologies and choices that people analytics leaders and technologists are confronted with. Discover the full scope of your accountabilities and how to frame your choices to incorporate normative considerations. This is perhaps the very first time this notion of a moral imperative – a strongly held principle that compels action – is being discussed at a people analytics conference. Be there for the beginnings of a course correction in people analytics.

Amit MohindraComment