Disaggregate your people data: Why team and group-level data are so important to creating meaningful impact

business documents on office table with laptop computer and graph financial diagram and man working in the background

Let me start by stating the obvious: This is not a sexy blog title. In fact, our marketing team tried to talk me out of it many times. But I think it’s incredibly important and I hope that by the end of this short blog, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what disaggregated data is and why you should care so much about it in your organization.

People data and insights are central to everything we do at YMCA WorkWell. As our Director of Insights, I admit that I might be a little biased, but every informed decision should start with strong, reliable data. That said, your people data is only as good as the impact it generates – and that’s why it is translating data from insights, to action, to impact that we love the most.

We often ask our clients: If you have limited budget, energy, and resources to improve employee well-being, what two things can you do that would have the largest impact? When impact is your primary objective, and it should be, then how you approach your data matters – and this is where disaggregated data becomes so critical.

Disaggregated data might sound intimidating – but really, it’s just a fancy label for data that has been broken down by sub-groups. For example, when you receive your results from our Employee Insights Survey, your organizational total is the clearest example of “aggregated data.” Maybe your average score on well-being as an organization is 75 out of 100.

Disaggregated data, on the other hand, is broken out by important groups such as department, location, tenure, leadership, or employee demographics. For example, your HR team might have an average well-being score of 78 and your finance team might have an average well-being score of 72.


Disaggregating your employee survey results

Let’s consider a simple example of why disaggregated team and group-level data is so critical when taking effective action and creating impact in your organization.

dissegregated data 1
Imagine you have an organization of 24 employees spread evenly across three 8-person teams. Results from your most recent employee feedback survey indicate that 50% of your employees do not feel valued, a critical consideration in employee well-being. This is a significant need - every other employee in your entire organization does not feel valued as an employee.

The big question is: what do you now do as a leader to create the most significant impact? We might recommend targeted initiatives with managers to better recognize and appreciate their employees. But how and where is this most important? This is where disaggregated data becomes so important.

Let’s consider three different scenarios of how this insight might play out in practice across your teams and what the different scenarios mean for how you would act on this data to create the most significant impact:


dissegregated data 2

In Scenario 1, the employees who do not feel valued are evenly spread out across the three teams – with 50% of employees not feeling valued in each team. This speaks to an organizational-level challenge – or, a challenge that every team and group is facing equally.


dissegregated data 3

In Scenario 2, we see that 50% of employees do not feel valued, but this challenge is not experienced equally across teams. This presents a team-level challenge. In this example, all employees on Team A feel like they are valued, whereas 75% of employees in Team B and C do not.


dissegregated data 4

Finally, in Scenario 3, we see a systemic challenge. Again – we see that 50% of employees do not feel valued – both in the organization and within each team. But this challenge is not experienced equally across types of employees. Specifically, in this example, 75% of female employees do not feel valued, whereas 75% of male employees do.

Disaggregated people data supports data-driven decision making

So, your employee survey identified that 50% of your employees do not feel valued.

The scenarios above illustrate just how complex that insight can be and just some of the many ways in which that challenge might exist within your organization. Let’s return to the crucial question: If you have limited budget, energy, and resources to improve employee well-being, what two things can you do that would have the largest impact?

In Scenario 1, you might create a new organization-wide initiative for leaders to promote greater recognition and appreciation of their employees.

In Scenario 2, you might direct more targeted action around improving recognition and appreciation within the two specific teams with the greatest need.

In Scenario 3, you might start with targeted Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work at the organizational level to address these systemic issues and how they are manifesting in the work experience of employees.

The most important consideration here is this: Knowing that 50% of employees do not feel valued is a good first step, but the best and most impactful way to act on that data depends on how it is broken out.

It is that next step of disaggregation that separates good data-driven decision-making from great data-driven decision-making.


How we help leaders leverage their team and group-level people data

At YMCA WorkWell, this team and group-level people data is our bread and butter. We care about helping you translate your people data into the most effective actions and being able to visualize these important differences is a critical first step.

We use heat maps to help you understand the most important opportunity areas in your organization, the most important opportunity areas within teams and groups, and how your scores are changing over time.

heat map

We will break your employee Insights results out in any way that matters to you and your organization: tenure, leadership levels, employment status, remote versus in-office, demographics.

The only condition is that each group must have five or more responses to help protect anonymity – a critical part of building employees' trust in the process.

We then partner with you and team leaders to help you interpret your data and create action plans that will support employee well-being in the most effective ways – to help you find those one or two actions that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Want to learn more about how we help you make the best data-driven decisions? Are you curious how your own organization would show up on that heat map?  Schedule a free 30-minute conversation to learn more
. We’re looking forward to helping you use and act on your data better.

Posted by

Dave Whiteside

As the Director of Insights at YMCA WorkWell and with a Ph.D in Organizational Behaviour, Dave is all about the data and how it can be used to drive action and impact. Through the Employee Insights Survey and our annual WorkWell Community Surveys, his focus is on helping organizations gain a deeper understanding of where organizations, teams, and individuals are and what actions need to be taken to create healthier cultures.

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