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The Water Cooler

A blog of fresh ideas and findings from organizational leaders and researchers on how they’re making work better, shared regularly.

Google’s head of People Analytics talks making work better

Filed under: People Analytics
Google’s head of People Analytics talks making work better
For Google, an amazing workplace starts with an inspiring culture that brings meaning to people and their work and is reinforced with people-centered, data-driven decision making.

When Prasad Setty joined Google ten years ago to build its People Analytics team, he envisioned a workplace where all people-related decisions would be made by data and analytics. If algorithms were spitting out search terms, why couldn’t we use them to make decisions for and about our people?

Setty soon discovered that this was the wrong approach. Despite the ability of analytics to objectively predict outcomes with high accuracy, people were reluctant to rely solely on formulas when it came to making important decisions — especially decisions that involved people, such as a promotion. And so, Setty shifted his vision for the People Analytics team. Rather than using data and analytics to make all decisions at Google, the team’s mission would be to educate Googlers on how they were making decisions and to help them make better decisions over time.

With this approach, the People Analytics team has conducted research over the years to arm Googlers with data to make better decisions, from onboarding to saving for retirement to eating healthier meals. Running experiments and doing research in your own organization is valuable, Setty says, because “each organization’s culture is different; what people are looking for is different and so we encourage everyone to think about what works in your own place.”