Jun 27 2018| Human Data | Leadership

The Employee Lifecycle and the Role of Human Data

Insights from Dr Charles Coker, CEO of LifeThrive Inc

by Phil Eyre Founder

Insights from Dr Charles Coker, CEO of LifeThrive Inc


While 71% of companies consider people analytics as a key priority within their organisation, fewer than 30% actually apply them (Deloitte 2017 Global Human Capital Trends).

There is consequently a huge opportunity to boost productivity, performance and wellbeing in workplaces across every sector.


Harnessing Human Data Analytics

Human data analytics have a critical role to play in optimising the entire employee lifecycle.

When used well, these analytics ensure that:


-  Employers are recruiting only the right people;

-  Onboarding is tailored to each individual, creating the conditions for greater purpose and meaning in their work;

-  Development plans harness unique strengths and address the particular capacities that will have the greatest positive impact on the employee and business;

-  Progression paths to management or leadership are clear.


The result is that employee engagement leaps, workplaces become healthy and vibrant and the bottom line directly benefits.

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report 2017, businesses with engaged employees are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable than those with a more disaffected workforce. 


Understanding Employee Turnover

The average lifecycle of a non-managerial employee is 28 months; for most business leaders that will feel like a cost their company cannot afford.

However, consider that the generations now entering the workforce will only spend an average of 18 months in a role, and it is clear that a change in how we hire and manage people is urgently needed to ensure HR costs don’t spiral out of control.

How we hire and manage talent isn’t just about cost at the acquisition phase; although that is where the most significant spend currently lies, it’s important to consider an organisation’s typical leakage.

Inefficiencies grow from:

  • Recruiting staff who are wholly unsuited to their role;
  • The impact of stress and poor wellbeing;
  • Mistakes made in the workplace;
  • Poor standards of work.


These often incur significant costs but are rarely addressed effectively.

Human data is critical to understanding employee turnover.

Generally, a job description is a list of task-oriented functions. However, focusing on a candidate’s ability to respond to processes - learning, adapting, interacting and applying themselves accordingly - is more likely to achieve a successful outcome.

Any person can do any job, but only a select group of people can undertake a particular role without unhealthy stress.


Nurturing a Healthy Workplace

We will never have a well, healthy and happy workforce if we continue to place people in roles that do not suit their personal traits. Critically, unless employees are engaged with their work and suited to their roles, corporate wellness won’t occur.

The key is to understand a candidate’s skills, assets, attributes and liabilities before they start - you are only guessing about their success.

People in the right role, who are introduced to their job and the company in the right way and developed in a way that suits their unique capacities and personality, will become engaged.

Many companies spend most of their HR budget on hiring people and yes, hiring the right person is important, but organisations don’t invest in the development and retention of staff.

With a cycle like this, it’s no wonder that hiring ends up taking the lion’s share of the budget.


Exploring the Employee Lifecycle

It’s clear we need to change our thinking and harness the sophisticated human data that is now available.

Using human data will improve thethreephasesof an employee lifecycle:


  1. Acquisition
  2. Development
  3. Retention



We typically write a job spec based on the tasks and skills that are required, but that only gives us half the picture, and often leads to us hiring someone who is unsuited to the role.

Analyse the job from a psychological perspective and you know exactly who you are looking for.  Benchmarking, using job analysis data, helps us to understand the mental components of the job as well as the task elements - so you know what behavioural traits they need.

Profile the candidate and you can then match characteristics with the skill sets you need. Plus, if you fully understand the candidate’s emotional makeup during the hiring phase, you can create the right package based on salary, job title and development prospects.

This gives you an even better chance of making the right hire and securing the talent that you need before your competitor does.



The developmental phase currently requires the most attention: 74% of executives say they don’t have a clear progression path and become disengaged. 

Two key opportunities for engagement:

  • Onboarding

Development starts during the onboarding process so it’s critical that new employees understand the business’s mission, vision and values, and how they impact the company.

Without an efficient onboarding process, there is no mental tie, employees don’t relate and hence don’t engage.


  • Appraisals

We need to switch the appraisal experience from being fundamentally negative to positive - making it a collaborative process and involving peers. And why wait a year to give someone feedback? Repeat appraisals quarterly or even monthly. Then use the mental data to understand what kind of training they genuinely need, and which will develop them into a person who will enjoy and engage with the job.


A Flexible Approach

It’s important to understand that there will always be elements of a role that the staff member is not suited to. Their human data will confirm this, and the role will need to flex around the person to avoid stress, unhappiness and ultimately disengagement from the job 

If they meet the profile required, which they will if human data is used during recruitment, generally this is a case of micro flexing - tweaking and not overhauling the role.

This is eminently possible and such flexibility conveys a disproportionate positive sense of care and investment in the employee.

No business stands still. Arguably, the pace of change today is faster than ever before, so roles and people's responses need to adjust constantly.

People need to adapt and if they are engaged in the company’s purpose and values and their role they can and will.

Managers feel that retaining staff is complicated, but it is simple when they understand the data.

Studies show that leaders tend to manage what they believe the person needs to do - managing both their strengths and weaknesses. In fact, we only need to manage their weaknesses, as the rest will come naturally. 

With data, you can see the gaps, and work around them.

Key tips for identifying employee gaps: 

  • Make performance appraisals monthly, so they never become traumatic, and give constant feedback;
  • Make appraisals collaborative. Involve the person, their peers and manager. Again, human data is used within the process and adapted accordingly;
  • Build capacities with human data. If you know their human data, you can train accordingly - teach the human skills, build their intelligence, as well as the technical skills.


Retention and Promotion

Accept that some people will only reach a certain level; you can identify that right from the acquisition phase with human data. 

For example, a brilliant programmer might be promoted to systems architect, but you will know it won’t work with people who have ‘high individualistic’ tendencies, as they are better suited to a more technical role.

It is possible to identify and develop the people skills needed for great management as well as the strategic thinking skills needed for great leadership. 

Promote based on the data, as well as performance - and end the practice of promoting someone to be a manager of people based on their technical skill alone.

Successful managers need people skills too; 70% of employees who resign are leaving their manager rather than their job.

The same can be said at the top of the company; it is no different at a senior level other than the costs of executive turnover; some studies put this at 212% of the exec’s annual compensation. 

The average tenure of a CEO is only 4.5 years; too often they are found to have lied about their experience or skills on their CV, a discovery made only after a period of underperformance.  


Identifying Critical Leadership Skill Factors

Data can identify the following critical factors in leadership skill:


  • Ambition; the passion to achieve something meaningful and inspire others.
  • Accountability; commitment and focus that stretches the business to high standards.
  • Awareness; an ability to spot problems coming and head them off.
  • Agility; solving problems hopefully, finding ways forward regardless of the pace of change.


An assessment can then be made as to what the leader naturally deals with well, for example, firefighting, building or inspiring, and where they need different strategies.

When this insight is understood at executive team level, teams can mutually support and challenge each other effectively - but only where sufficient trust exists.


Channelling Human Analytics for Professional Excellence

Understanding each other’s mindsets provides a strong basis on which to build trust - insight that can be gained quickly and objectively via human analytics.

As with all data, it is in the application that the real difference is made. Collecting the information is just stage one.

Applying the data to ensure people are fully engaged at all stages of the employee lifecycle requires an investment. But the benefits can be transformative to any organisation. 

LifeThrive is a leader in the field of applying human data analytics for business success. Chuck and his team in the US have developed proven and validated processes to increase employee engagement, increase productivity and employee retention.

Chuck is mentor to Leader’s founder, Phil Eyre. 

About The Author | Phil Eyre

Phil is Leaders’ founder. He has an enthusiastic and inspiring style, drawing on his experience in business, academia and social sectors to help any leadership team to achieve phenomenal performance. Phil has sophisticated expertise in psychometrics and in the application of human data for individual, team and organisational success. He has trained with, and been mentored by, global leaders in this field, notably Dr Chuck Coker in the US. Phil began his career in the UK offshore finance industry in 1994, working for a wealth management company in Guernsey, Collins Stewart (CI) Limited, now Canaccord Genuity Wealth International. Phil was head of the company's Guernsey division, with a staff of 120 and assets under management of £4.5billion before resigning from executive responsibilities in 2008. Phil has served on the boards of three charities, including BMS World Mission, a UK charity with over 80 employees and a global reach. Phil also ran the Guernsey hub of a national theology college, received accreditation as a pastor in the Baptist Union of Great Britain and served as a non-executive director for Canaccord Genuity Wealth International. Phil is a member of the NED Forum and the Institute of Directors.

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