People Insights

People Insights

Most of the time, the insights we find confirm our theories and hypotheses. But very often, and most importantly, they totally debunk them. In either case, we gain something valuable: a deeper understanding of what’s going on—and why.

In a traditional approach to employee engagement, organizations cast a wide net with their surveys. Rather than going in with a clear hypothesis and testing it, the surveys themselves are used to identify the what: where people are feeling most vulnerable, disgruntled, or discouraged.

So, when we make the switch to a more focused strategy, we can no longer ask 100 questions and hope we hit upon what our people care about or what’s standing in their way. Having clear goals and outcomes helps what we want to achieve. And to get there by taking the road less travelled can help. Being unique by starting first with a hypothesis and then taking it to test.

At first glance, this might seem to defy logic and sound like an impossible task. How should we pre-empt what our employees want? How can we gather what our employees want and need, and more importantly, how to help them get it too?

We know from instinct what people want. Because it’s what we want. We all want respect and the feeling of inclusion. We want to feel safe at work and express ourselves freely. We also want to be able to share dissent and be authentic and transparent. Most importantly, we need to enable business goals that align with these needs: factors like retention, customer success, recruiting, productivity, diversity and inclusion, innovation, and more, is as pivotal to organisational growth.

Organizational success lies at the intersection of these human and business needs as do employee engagement efforts. When we start with the outcomes that we want and need to make a reality, we gain clarity about what we should ask and how we should ask it. Stay curious about the connection between outcome-driven employee engagement strategies and insights. 

“An insight is a clear articulation of a relevant and actionable truth.”

What is an Insight?  

  • Clarity in Communication

A good insight should help us deepen our understanding of reality. However, finding a fact isn’t enough to make it an insight: it’s the articulation of it that makes it an insight. And how we frame and reframe it matters. Insights should be concise and free of jargon and any layman should able to comprehend the message.

  • Relevant and Actionable

Employee engagement insights need not be philosophical. It should simply tell us something important about what it’s like to work in an organization and inspire concrete action. Good insights encompass specific challenges and needs of people facing right now, with an understanding that they are dynamic and will change over time.


Data may lead to an insight; however, data itself does not constitute an insight. Insights should be actionable. Understanding what’s going on after reading through statistics helps us formulate insights and craft action plans. When we identify patterns or trends, whether from survey data or our own experience, it’s valuable to point them out. But insights are so much more than data analysis. Finding that one-year attrition for VP-level employees in ASIA is significantly higher than in other regions might warrant further investigation, but it’s not an insight. A real insight does more than tell us what’s going on; it explains what we are seeing and why. It suggests what we ought to do about it. When we notice something, we naturally work to come up with explanations for what we are seeing. These hypotheses help us brainstorm areas of further discovery and make sense of what might otherwise feel like unrelated data points. But a great insight goes a step further and reveals a deeper truth that tells us why it matters.

About the Author

Dr. Parthiban Vijay Raghavan is an expert in solving an organization's complex problems through accurate diagnosis, designing, innovation, agility, and execution excellence. He is also expertise in Decision Making Process, Leadership Communication, OD, Learning Strategies, and implementation, He is a Certified OB/OD Professional.

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