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In 2018, HR industry analyst Josh Bersin coined a new phrase, “learning in the flow of work,” describing the redesign of learning systems that are real time, on demand, and embedded into everyday work. Learning in the flow of work promotes better engagement, understanding, and retention, because employees can learn the skills they need when they need them.

In the same vein, designing our HR systems to be interconnected, easy to use, and accessible can provide helpful insights in the flow of work. For example, a candidate applies for a new job at Company ABC as a staffing manager. On her first day of work, she had to fill out countless forms, both online and paper copies, to sign up for benefits, online timesheets, taxes, and direct deposit. Then she had to sign up for the Intranet, customer relationship management tool, skills inventory, and online training and orientation platform, all in different places. Imagine if this process were integrated. Not only would she be impressed with her new employer, but the company would get more powerful data and insights about how to help her be a successful employee and get all her whole-person needs met.

Most organizations have disconnected HR and IT systems, lacking in powerful data that enable leaders to make decisions or take action. In order to mitigate bias and ensure gender and racial pay equity in the workplace, whether it be virtual or in person, organizations need to up their analytics game. Interconnected HR systems can provide real-time data that help create more connected, equitable workplaces.


Most organizations have people data scattered across many different systems. This disparate information makes it challenging to run a simple global headcount report, much less gather meaningful data like salary, training, performance, and succession plans.

The pandemic has demonstrated the need for accurate employee data and compliance in the Now of Work. As we discussed in Section III, it is not enough to know how many people you have in the organization, but you need to know where they are. Are they working in an office, onsite at a facility or store, or at home? What is the work environment like? If people are working onsite or in an office, do they get tested? How frequently? Have they been vaccinated? If so, when? Have they received the first or second dose? If they work from home, do they have kids? If they do, are they at home for school? Does the employee have an appropriate, ergonomic work space to be productive? Do they have the right technology? If not, what do they need to make it function better? How can their employers support them in being productive?

The answers to these questions are not in your traditional HR system of record. Even if you can collect some of this information as structured data, other information (like work space needs) might be unstructured. People analytics need to marry structured and unstructured data from many different sources if they are going to yield insights that help employers support their workers.


COVID is not the only pandemic. In the U.S., George Floyd‘s death at the hands of police and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in summer 2020 has woken people up to the pandemic of racism. Increasing numbers of employers are realizing that DEI should not just be a role or a separate group on an organization chart. It needs to be embedded into the culture and in every process, beginning with recruiting and the need to reduce bias in hiring.

Bias cannot be eliminated entirely, and state-of-the-artificial intelligence and machine learning can also have biases introduced by the training set data (there is no way to guarantee bias-free training data today). However, that does not mean that there cannot be progress. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can:

  • Suggest more inclusive language in job descriptions
  • Be transparent about prioritizing specific candidates over other candidates
  • Highlight if there is a diverse enough slate of candidates being evaluated
  • Show if there is as diverse a slate of interviewers as possible to make hiring recommendations

These benefits may not eliminate biases, but they can help improve diversity and equity in hiring.

Another area where bias can result in inequity is compensation. Analytics can shine a light on where there may be compensation equity issues, what the root causes may be, and what changes can be made to address the problems. For example, analytics can show comparisons between protected classes and non protected classes and highlight any significant differences (and make suggestions to remedy the inequities). Analytics can also drill down into different segments of the workforce or organization to see variances and help identify the root causes in pay inequality.

By definition, people who have unconscious bias are not aware they have demonstrated a bias. Nonetheless, unconscious bias can result in unfair hiring decisions, pay inequity, microaggressions, or lack of promotional opportunities. The right analytics can help provide the right checks and balances on bias (unconscious or not), identifying gaps in pay among genders and races or other employment issues.


The real power of analytics comes when they are delivered in the flow of work. Employees and managers should not have to search for insights. Insights should come to them, where they are already working, helping them to make good decisions and take the right actions. For example, if leaders are taking a pulse check of the workforce, the results with suggested actions (which may be as simple as reaching out and listening to a team member) should be delivered to the leaders in their preferred channels (for example, by email, text, or a Slack or Microsoft Teams message). When employees receive the analytics in their preferred communication medium, they will get the insights they need, in real-time, where they are already working, so they will be able to take immediate action.

The power of artificial intelligence and machine learning can come into play here as well. The more actions I take, the more the system can learn my preferences. Certain messages should be delivered right away, even if the notification interrupts my flow of work, when it is important to act quickly. In other cases, when the notifications are not urgent, they may be better batched and delivered through a different channel (for example, as a daily digest email). If a message should have been prioritized as urgent, then it can be noted in the system so that the algorithm knows to treat the same kind of message differently in the future. This kind of personalization can create a better experience for employees and managers.



Jim Holincheck has more than 25 years of experience in the HCM technology industry and is the Vice President of Advisory Services at Leapgen. Before joining Leapgen, Jim gained experience as a vendor (Workday – Services Strategy and Product Management), an industry analyst (Gartner and Forrester/Giga), and a consultant (Accenture). He has spent his entire career working with customers to strategize, select, implement, support, and optimize their usage of enterprise applications. Helping customers successfully get the most out of their enterprise software investments is something he is very passionate about.

Jason Averbook
is a global keynote speaker, industry analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of human resources and workforce experience. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Leapgen, a digital transformation shaping the future of work. Author of The Ultimate Guide to a Digital Workforce Experience ~ Leap for a Purpose, Jason seeks to broaden executive mindset to rethink how to better design and deliver employee services that exceed the expectations of the workforce and the needs of the business.


Leapgen is a global digital transformation company shaping the NOW of work. Highly respected as a visionary partner to organizations looking to design and deliver a digital workforce experience that will produce valued outcomes to the business, Leapgen helps enterprise leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business.