Magazine article HRMagazine

Pathways to Productivity

Magazine article HRMagazine

Pathways to Productivity

Article excerpt

Imagine being able to identify high-potential employees early in their work lives, providing a head start on grooming these individuals for leadership roles. Or finding hidden "influencers" who could be convinced to help with change initiatives. Or eliminating communication bottlenecks, improving workforce productivity and engagement.

These objectives are now possible through use of organizational network analysis (ONA), an emerging form of HR technology that captures data from e-mails, instant messages, feedback surveys and collaboration platforms to help identify and understand how people communicate.

ONA software provides a structured way to visualize formal and informal relationships by analyzing how communications, decisions and information flow internally, says David Mallon, head of research for Bersin by Deloitte, an HR research and consulting firm in New York City.

"Interest in using the methodology and toolsets related to ONA is growing," Mallon says.

Forty-eight percent of organizations are experimenting with ONA tools, according to the results of Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey, which captured responses from 10,400 business and HR leaders across 140 countries. And a related Deloitte report found that large businesses such as Cisco Systems, Cigna Health Insurance and General Motors are using ONA to help analyze productivity patterns, identify high-potential leaders and support diversity initiatives.

One company used the tools to assess communication in its sales function and found that the ideas of many experts in the group were being overlooked. After creating a new team-centric structure, the sales department saw its revenue rise by more than 12 percent.

Established ONA vendors include Trustsphere, KeenCorp and Microsoft Delve. Some providers also have tools that gauge the mood or tone of internal communications to assess where organizations might be under stress-or to help spot potential fraud. As ONA solutions grow in functionality and capability, experts expect many will be incorporated into core talent management platforms.


There are informal "go-to" teams or individuals in every enterprise, and they are often not who you might think based on formal organizational charts. They are the employees whose opinions hold sway with peers and who know how to get things accomplished-or to quickly find people with answers. "These people can become key change agents during periods of transformation or amid organization rollouts if approached and communicated with effectively," Mallon says. …

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