3 areas of focus for HR & People Analytics – lessons from Paypal, Google, Intercom, and GitLab
People Leader | Expert

3 areas of focus for HR & People Analytics – lessons from Paypal, Google, Intercom, and GitLab

Tech firms are quite peculiar; they have highly qualified employees, high attrition rate and use specific tools. As you can imagine, their people analytics is also rather specific. In today’s article we’re going to take a look at how the biggest tech firms such as PayPal, Microsoft and Google approach people analytics and share a few tips on how you can do it effectively at your organization. 

#1 PayPal: to win the war for talent, measure employee experience and get it right 

In an interview by People Matters, Dr Serena H. Huang, Global Head of People Analytics & HR Tech at PayPal, notices that organizations are increasing their investments in employee listening, collaboration, People Analytics, and well-being tracking solutions. And they’re doing so for good reason.

Dr Huang forecasts that the use of these tools isn’t a “passing phase”; it’s here to stay.  Given how fierce the competition for top tech talent has become, guaranteeing a good candidate and employee experience (EX) is key. This cannot be attained without access to actionable data. As she sums up, “employers who are getting EX right will win the war for talent”.

So, how does one go about measuring employee experience? At Network Perspective, we allow you to measure:

  • Collaboration overload, i.e., when employees feel mentally, emotionally, and physically drained by team and peer-to-peer interactions
  • Intra and cross team routines, i.e., the number of synchro routines (e.g. daily, weekly) and interactions within and between teams 
  • Time for deep work / context switching, which guarantees enough time for deep focus tasks, without interruptions and continuous jumping between topics 
  • Learning & development exposure, i.e., the opportunities for employees to learn via interactions with seniors, training, and other.
  • Leader’s guidance for a team, i.e, whether each team member receives enough support and guidance from their managers 
  • Well-being metrics, i.e., the overall perceived well-being and satisfaction of employees working for the business.

That being said, it’s also important to measure EX in cohorts of employees – newbies, individual contributors, leaders, and leaders of leaders, and run other types of cross analysis.

#2 Google & Microsoft: to decrease employee turnover use data to help people leaders become great at their role  

Two tech giants Google and Microsoft realise the impact that people leaders have on employee retention, for this reason they use data to ensure they’re great at their roles. Let’s take a quick look at each case:  


Before Google engaged in a journey to discover what makes great managers, their research team first tried to prove that managers are the necessary evil. They focused on two aspects:

  • Manager performance ratings
  • Manager feedback from Google’s annual employee survey.

The data has quickly shown that managers mattered and that teams led by great managers were not only happier but also more productive. What it didn’t reveal though is what made them great, so the team went through the comments from the annual employee survey and performance evaluations and identified 10 common behaviours, as displayed on the graphic below:


Microsoft employs over 175,000 people across 74 countries. It’s hardly surprising to learn that transitioning to a fully remote work model has been challenging for them. They have learned plenty during this change, and one of their key learnings was that managers play a huge role in reducing employee attrition. During the pandemic they hired 25,000 new employees. New hires whose managers were involved in their onboarding process were 3 times more likely to be satisfied with it. Amy Coleman, at Microsoft says that “when managers can create a supportive work environment where people love to work and [have] a sense of work/life balance, the natural byproduct is that people feel more connected.”

These findings are fully in line with what we have discovered at Network Perspective. Our research shows that leaders are 200% more overloaded with collaboration during COVID than they were prior to the pandemic. It turns out that they spend 34-44 hours in meetings weekly, reply to over 800 emails which results in 12hours   work days. In order to find balance and enable the leaders to spend more time with employees without being overloaded with collaboration it’s vital to give them access to people analytics, provide them with training and the right resources. 

#3 Intercom & GitLab: to increase business outcomes leverage data on how to build high performing teams 

Let’s begin by looking at how high performing teams (HPTs) are built in Intercom.


The company decided to create HPTs in 2020, as part of their organizational structure redesign. By building high performing teams, they aimed at boosting team cooperation, facilitating internal processes, and improving the quality of peer-to-peer communication.

To keep track, Intercom has decided to measure team performance quarterly through a four-step process, called:

  • Measure
  • Act
  • Review
  • Share

These four, cyclical stages entail:

  • Touching base on any common challenges, discussing goals, and de-prioritizing tasks that might be standing in the way of effective work
  • Weekly, 15-minute-long sessions to make sure each employee has the opportunity to discuss any ongoing work, if need be
  • Organizing workshops where employees have the chance to share their individual, personal goals with other team members. This comes as a method to foster team relations and boost individual employee growth


One of the key characteristics of GitLab’s teams is their desire to grow together, share feedback openly and simplify complex tasks. 

The company came up with 7 steps to developing high performing teams, these include: 

  • Orientation – “why are we here?”
  • Trust building – “who are we?”
  • Goal clarification – “what are we doing?”
  • Commitment – “how will we do it?”
  • Implementation – “who does what, when, where?”
  • High performance – the so-called “WOW” stage
  • Renewal – revisiting the “why” orientation step; “why should we continue?”

What does the way teams are managed in Intercom, GitLab, and the previously-mentioned Google have in common? All three organizations have a set of rules and/or steps that allow HR & People Analytics to make data-driven decisions and keep track of any changes. By regularly touching base with relevant teams and tracking data, they continuously iterate their approach.

Final remarks

To understand which areas your HR and People Analytics teams should focus on, it’s worth looking at how it’s done by some of the organizations that are pioneers in this area:

  • PayPal believes that Employee Experience is crucial to winning in the war for top talent 
  • Microsoft put their managers at the forefront, and believe that they have a crucial role in lowering turnover,
  • Google has identified ten characteristics that People Managers must have to boost employee experience,
  • Intercom has a four-step, iterative process for measuring, acting, reviewing, and sharing data on employees with relevant teams,
  • GitLab came up with seven steps for high-performing teams.

If you’d like to learn what People Analytics can bring to the table for your business, reach out!

May 19, 2022

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