For decades, companies have used periodic employee surveys to take the pulse of their workforces’ sentiments on engagement, the company itself, and its mission. After all, research shows a strong correlation between employee engagement and business performance. Progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives is another big survey goal.
Avantor was one of these companies. But it found traditional survey models costly, time-consuming, and burdensome for HR. External consultants and vendors were involved during the months of preparation for each year’s survey. “We’d have to create additional structures with an external vendor about our organization’s hierarchy, with a lot of back-and-forth for our HR and HRIS teams,” says Tracie Ybarra, vice president of global talent development at Avantor.
Our HR burden has eased. We don’t have to align with external data from our outside consulting firm and then do more work internally to produce reports.
Vice President of Global Talent Development
As a global enterprise, Avantor had to translate survey content into dozens of languages. It also had to accommodate factory workers who didn’t have access to the internet. “Months might pass before we’d have the survey data available to provide leadership with reports for analysis, each one needing preparation and inevitably siloed organizationally,” Ybarra says. “Even then, the insights could be disjointed and poorly aligned with our organization, which could delay meaningful actions that both mitigate or remediate issues and also let our associates know we’ve heard them.”
Active listening for the new world of work.
In short, Avantor needed a simpler, easier, and more effective approach. “Our accelerated business pace today doesn’t allow for once-a-year monster surveys anymore,” Ybarra says. “We have to adapt our listening approach to a new world of work, ensuring more leadership accountability, driving change management at a faster pace, and using employee feedback to inform our company’s business strategy and priorities as well as our programs, initiatives, and systems—especially our DE&I strategy.”
Christy Cole, senior director of global HR systems and analytics at Avantor, mentions that Workday, which Avantor has used for about a decade, offered the Workday Peakon Employee Voice platform. She thought it could enable a more dynamic employee listening approach with a continuous feedback loop. “Its ease of use, automated translations, flexible delivery media, real-time data, self-service reporting potential, and integration within Workday—especially with People Analytics and Prism—made it the ideal solution for our needs,” she says.
Fast, easy deployment and reporting.
Avantor’s HR leadership deployed the Workday Peakon Employee Voice platform in phases, starting with a global pulse survey before activating all the platform’s features and capabilities, including its self-service reporting for executives and managers. The project team wanted to ensure that the company had support from senior leadership as well as the change management communications in place to drive this initiative. “This way, we could create programs that reflect the input from our associates, showing them that we are listening to them and care about them,” says Ybarra.
This tool lifts the HR business partner burden since everything is automated with AI, offering insights that you likely haven't yet thought about asking.
Senior Director of Global HR Systems and Analytics
Cole reports that the deployment was a breeze, especially because her team could fully connect all the data between the company’s existing Workday system and the Workday Peakon Employee Voice platform. “Even though we were short-staffed, and it had been years since I had done any Workday configurations, the platform was easy to configure,” she says. “We used its questions and customized our own for evaluating and validating our DE&I strategy. Peakon handled all the translations and kiosk delivery for our factory associates.”
In addition, Cole used an API connector between the two systems to update location and business unit mapping to ensure the alignment of results data. “That was easy too and enabled us to get the insights and analytics we wanted without spending weeks trying to normalize data and draw our best inferences from it.”
Real-time insights enable real-time action.
Noël France, senior global director of DE&I at Avantor, finds the Workday Peakon Employee Voice platform’s simple yet sophisticated reporting capabilities critical to staying on top of employee concerns in her domain. “The real-time insights we get enable us to take action in real time,” she says, noting that the platform offers automated analytics and cross-industry benchmarking. “Before, we had to wait months for reports and analyses. Now we can focus on improvement opportunities immediately. We’ve also validated our DE&I strategy and direction.”
It's been most impactful to tie associates’ feedback directly to our strategy and pivot our priorities as a result. We’re more effective, and it shows them we’re listening.
Senior Global Director of DE&I
France especially likes the Workday Peakon Employee Voice platform’s AI-powered comment analysis feature with natural language processing. It not only saves her time, but it can also provide additional insights that might have remained hidden before. “I used to spend tons of time in the comments looking for nuggets of insights,” she says. “But now I can just double-click to take a deep dive to better understand what the engagement and inclusion data is telling us.”
Data clarity helps target effective actions.
Ybarra adds that the Workday Peakon Employee Voice platform eliminates the HR administrative burden previously associated with annual surveys. “Now, instead of endless rounds of HR meetings and then more with our leaders and managers to go over data, our leaders can generate their own detailed insights, slicing and dicing information easily and determining their best courses of action,” she says. “This also gives managers a more holistic view of our associates’ engagement at a local level so they can localize and target those actions and then measure their effectiveness.”
Avantor’s HR team is using the Workday Peakon Employee Voice platform for continuous pulse surveys while supplementing with ad hoc and exit surveys via Workday. The integration of data between the two systems will provide one source of truth for leadership and managers. “With Peakon, our associates know they’re heard, and our leaders are becoming more accountable for their part of the organization’s engagement,” Cole concludes. “Our next pulse survey will assess our associates’ thoughts on their health and well-being. We’ll eventually incorporate Workday Prism and Workday People Analytics to draw even more insights from our data. The possibilities with Workday seem endless.”