We are excited to welcome our new partner at KennedyFitch, Patrick Coolen, a leading expert in people analytics, strategic workforce management, and employee listening. With 15 years of experience leveraging people data and analytics to help organizations and individuals grow, Patrick is recognized as a thought leader and trusted authority in this field.
At KennedyFitch, we have long believed that data can increase our understanding of human behavior, performance, and well-being and, therefore, help us to create high-performing and human-centered organizations.
With Patrick’s expertise, we will be able to support our clients in their transformation toward an established and mature evidence-based HR practice even more.
We are excited to welcome Patrick to our team and to expand our work with our clients and community to co-create a human-centric future of work.
Interview with our new partner Patrick Coolen
Hello Patrick, welcome to the KennedyFitch team. Why should organizations invest in people analytics?
For me, it all has to do with creating business value. Therefore people analytics should always start with a clear business question. For instance, questions like, “What employee or leadership skills are actually influencing our sales or client satisfaction?” or, “What people characteristics are driving the performance of our top sales units?” contribute to the strategy of an organization.
Before joining KennedyFitch, you were the Global Head of HR Analytics at ABN AMRO. Could you share your thoughts on how you have seen the people analytics field develop over the last few years?
In the last five years, I saw many organizations adopting people analytics. In my opinion, most organizations can now use advanced data analytics techniques to a certain extent to create valuable insights. However, not many organizations can yet deliver people analytics at scale. An example is offering vacancy recommendations to individuals or nudging employees on how to approach their next meeting. Furthermore, many organizations still struggle to transform people analytics into an established and sustainable practice. Where do organizations need to invest? Is it infrastructure, onboarding more data scientists, cleaning data, or aligning with software vendors? Depending on their starting position and the organization’s ambition, each transformation process is unique.
How do you balance the need for data-driven insights with maintaining a human touch in employees and fostering company culture?
I like that question to explain and emphasize that people analytics is precisely there to create a more human-centered organization. First of all, data, human experience, and even intuition play an important role in decision-making. So, the ‘human touch’ is needed to interpret the data. Secondly, people are not data, but data does represent people’s sentiments, opinions, and beliefs. Why would you not do the utmost as an organization to understand the people in your organization, so you can help them grow? So I turn the argument around, by not adopting people analytics, you miss the opportunity as an organization to increase the human touch.
What is your view of the future of people analytics?
I know one thing for sure, there is no future for HR without evidence-based HR or people analytics. If the HR function wants to remain relevant and strategic, people analytics, strategic workforce management, and other related services are necessary HR capabilities to develop. That is why I do not believe you should hand over people analytics to other organizational functions, such as finance or marketing. Additionally, working with survey data and data representing human behavior demands people who master behavioral science. And where better to find them or to onboard them than within HR?
Any closing thoughts?
If I may, I want to close by thanking KennedyFitch for their support and belief in me. I am convinced we have an excellent offering for organizations, a mixture of coaching programs, workshops, training courses, executive search, and on-site consultancy that helps organizations enhance and build that mature people analytics practice. So, I am very excited and can’t wait to start helping clients to become great in people analytics and evidence-based HR.