After our first post, we thought it might be helpful to define exactly what we mean by Quantified Work. So I’ll give the short answer: Quantified Work means data-driven approaches (input, feedback, visualization) to drive employee engagement and business performance.

Quantified Work begins with strategies for defining goals and metrics. It gives behavioral insight into achieving objectives through measurable key results. As I mentioned, it uses data-driven approaches—from input to feedback to visualization—to drive employee engagement and enhance business results. Quantified Work is a better way to work because it’s where top-down alignment meets bottoms-up engagement.

Some large companies have advocated data-driven styles for years. “We are a very data-driven company, so H.R. has a history of making sure we have in-depth surveys of employees identifying how we can improve employee satisfaction and engagement over time,” Intel director Suzanne Fallender explained to Forbes.

Now smaller companies are following suit. Late last year, Don Peck covered big data and human resources for The Atlantic, writing, “You can now find dedicated analytics teams in the human-resources departments of not only huge corporations such as Google, HP, Intel, General Motors, and Procter & Gamble, to name just a few, but also companies like McKee Foods, the Tennessee-based maker of Little Debbie snack cakes.”

Google, for example, has HR professionals, former consultants, and analysts, working in its in People Operations (POPS) organization. Whether recruiting, refining core programs, or developing talent, POPS features a data-driven approach that it believes is reinventing the human resources field.

A Slate feature story explained the Google approach this way, “At the heart of POPS is a sophisticated employee-data tracking program, an effort to gain empirical certainty about every aspect of Google’s workers’ lives—not just the right level of pay and benefits but also such trivial-sounding details as the optimal size and shape of the cafeteria tables and the length of the lunch lines. In the last couple years, Google has even hired social scientists to study the organization.”
Prasad Setty, who heads POPS’ “people analytics” group may have described it best to Slate when he said, “What we try to do is bring the same level of rigor to people decisions that we do to engineering decisions. Our mission is to have all people decisions be informed by data.”
Quantified Work is not about performance management, but rather about performance enhancement. An operational capability, it is designed to support human resource efforts to become a more strategic partner to the business. It is more than timesheets, although some measurements may include data derived from employee time-based activities.

For those of you measuring personal fitness, the concept behind Quantified Work is the same. It’s like having an activity tracker for work—a way to capture progress and gain feedback on a frequent basis using enterprise systems intended for everyday use. Rather than a device monitoring your every move, consider it a way to log key activities, sort of like counting calories. Once you have those in one place, you and your organization can have clear visibility into all of the metrics driving the business—top-down and bottom-up.

Quantified Work results in greater focus for employees and the business. So that’s what we mean when we talk about Quantified Work. Is there anything you’d add to our definition?