There are few companies that have the instant brand recognition of the LEGO Group. From small plastic bricks to theme parks and films, it’s a company that has reached renown.
To get insight into how the people behind the brand are managed, UNLEASH caught up with Melissa Kantor, vice-president (VP) of people analytics and insights, and head of product, people, and talent at the LEGO Group.
Kantor discusses flexibility, the importance of data, and a “so what” approach to business insights.
However, before we dive into data, Kantor outlines what her position means within the LEGO Group: “I currently wear two hats. So the first half is VP of people analytics and insights.
“That’s everything from your standard monthly reporting, executive level reporting, and all the input needed for the annual report. So that includes any sort of workforce planning, engagement analytics, and any analysis and report system that needs to happen.”
She summarizes: “Pretty much anything under the sun related to people reporting data and analytics sits in that function.”
The other element of the position gives Kantor “responsibility for the digital products that fit within the world of all things people and talent.”
This includes talent, time and pay, and hire-to-retire (the employee lifecycle).
Finding culture in analytics
Analytics is a significant part of Kantor’s work and she notes that she is “super privileged to have a big champion of analytics in my boss”.
When Kantor joined the LEGO Group in 2018, the company already saw the value of people analytics and data. This data is married to employee engagement.
Currently, the company drives traditional surveys, quarterly and annually as well as offboarding, onboarding, and surveys.
Fortunately for LEGO Group staff, employee engagement is embedded in the company’s culture, and “leaders are used to working with their HR business partner on a frequent basis to review the results of our engagement surveys so that they can understand where our employees are and how they’re feeling and how they’re motivated”.
Furthermore, managers look at “what levers can we use to intervene if we need to”.
Looking back at the pandemic, Kantor says: “We were sitting with a workforce that had historically been fairly flexible, and we embraced working from home. And we also have a workforce that is also quite used to embracing this concept of providing us feedback through surveys.”
Speaking about surveys, Kantor clarifies: “No one at the LEGO Group has access to any detailed level of information about a specific employee. And that is one of our guiding principles.”
The LEGO Group takes privacy seriously and is transparent with its employees, Kantor adds: “we’re incredibly risk-averse in this regard, which I think is the right way to do it.”
Surveys have informed the LEGO Group’s choices around work during a turbulent pandemic. To add to this, “through our research analysis, we understood that our culture is what makes us who we are.
“We love our culture, we value it, and we don’t take it for granted. We safeguard it. And we felt that part of that culture is being together. And yes, you can be together virtually, but we don’t think it’s quite the same thing.”
As a result, Kantor says: “we are not going to commit to full-time home working or full-time remote working by any stretch of the imagination.” Instead, the Lego Group has a “best of both” working policy, with office workers able to work from home two days a week.
Using data to put together the pieces
Naturally, Kantor is passionate about data: “What really interests me is understanding how you can help people be their best working self.
“You always have high potentials that push the envelope, which is great. And then you have solid performers.
“But I truly believe in every solid performer is that high potential waiting to come out, you just have to find out what motivates them, what interests them, and where their skills are, and make sure that those things can overlap.”
Kantor acknowledges that not everyone will share her passion. As a result, she implements a “So, what?” approach.
Kantor explains: “When you’re talking about people data, not a lot of people, leaders, and not even a lot of people partners yet get super energized by numbers when we’re being honest.
“When you’re bringing a number to a leadership team, the worst thing you can do is have a lovely chart or graph and some numbers on it that say ‘this is your attrition’. Who cares.”
To combat this, the data needs to be tied to a business strategy or a desired outcome.
“When this is done people understand. This is why we’re looking at this attrition number, or this is why we’re looking at this motivation, satisfaction score, and why we think we want to improve it or vice versa”, notes Kantor.
Part of the LEGO Group’s process for acquiring and visualizing data is the platform Visier. After a push to adopt the tool and become comfortable with it, the platform has been used to “provide insights to my leaders.
“Visier was a solution that enabled us to quickly scale up and leapfrog in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to do, which was great.”
The tool has been part of the LEGO Group’s plans to modernize HR and has “helped us understand data quality in a way that we wouldn’t have if we hadn’t done it”, and “it gave us exercise in running an implementation project”.
Visier enables the LEGO Group to visualize data and gives leaders the ability to understand the business and make changes when required.
To help with the adoption of the tool, the team measured and reported on its use and encouraged people partners to log in frequently.
As partners became more comfortable they would become more competent and now deeper questions about data are coming from stakeholders. This ultimately meant that the tool was being adopted and the insights were having an impact.
Building the future
Modernizing HR is no easy task, but the LEGO Group has a strong foundation in place to build off.
The company now plans to launch human capital management software Workday in September and also take a new approach to surveys.
Kantor notes: “I’m looking forward to really embracing other ways of understanding, engagement and motivation, and satisfaction in our employee base.
“I’ve done some [platform] pilots already with organizational network analysis and sentiment analysis. And I can’t say enough how excited I am. My whole team is excited to embark on this new world.”
Safe to say, the LEGO Group looks set to build something special.
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