Meghan Liu, Senior Director of People Operations at rag &bone utilizes people analytics to enhance organizations and individuals from her base in New York, United States. Having a passion for numbers, Meghan Liu transitioned from building forecasts and headcount planning to applying data-driven insights to enhance the employee experience.

Meghan,how has your journey beenas the Senior Director of People Operations, and what are your current role responsibilities at rag & bone? 

My career path within the field of HR has been non-linear. After obtaining a degree in Accounting and Finance from Bentley University, I began my professional journey in Hospitality by writing journal entries and building employee tip distribution templates in Microsoft Excel. My career trajectory changed when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, and I was tasked to audit the company’s benefits plans and improve its administration.Back then, determining thatwe were paying the correct amount for health insurance and whether enrollments were accurately reflected was largely based on numerical analysis and, for the first time, was about to be regulated by a governmental agency.

Today, employers need to be aware, informed, and educated about it. It is crucial to elevate and impact employees' lives, especially when things are challenging personally. That path led me to HR, where I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the people behind the numbers and have an impact on employee lives.At rag & bone, my professional interests initially centered around system optimizations and people analytics tolater evolvethe people operationsfunction toidentifyan intrinsic motivation, and fostera positive culturefor all.

Within the HR space, what, according to you, are the potential challenges that exist in the marketplace? Also, what are some of the leading trends that have led the HR space to evolve over the years? 

Many employees used to work solely in exchange for money – clock in…clock out. Recently, employment motivation shifted from transactional to intrinsic factors, such as what makes people happy and feel valued. Pay transparency will amplify this shift in mindset by increasing compensation awareness upfront, which can have an employee appreciate their current gig or focus a job search onroles that better align with their financial expectations in addition to theirwell-being, and lifestyle.Furthermore, how can you remain resilient and engaged once you have determined where you fall on the scale? It is not a one-size-fits-all approach, of course.We want you to know your value, be engaged, and be excited to show up.

Considering these changes that have taken place, how are companies and states looking to integrate cutting-edge technologies into their workflows? What are the obstacles that stand in their way?

We seek to define pay equity and embrace pay transparency. Having a passion for understanding numbers and being able to drill down into the details is critical not only in America but all over the world. Utilizinga single Human Resource Information System (HRIS) where all current and historical employee data is stored is the most efficient way to achieve this vision.

At rag & bone, we spearhead concepts and provide out-of-the-box solutions for engagement, such as hiking events, financial &well-being workshops, and doing it differently with our co-workers.”

Unfortunately, I believe thatthis is a major obstacle for many firms. By simplifying our payroll processing and human capital management and leveraging our HRIS, Rebecca Seidenstein, our Chief People Officer, and I can focus onunderstanding our brand’spay equity and have been focused on this conceptover the last three years. I am very excited to see what 2023 holds and when states will follow New York and California.

What is your strategy forleading your team forward and allowing them to work cohesively on any project? 

Every person has a voice, and every voice is extremely important. Similarly, I like to learn from anyone who either works for me or works next to me. I am better each day by having these conversations, having a thought partner, talking through a challenge,or inquiring whether this is the right response.What do you think? What do I think? What if we did this?These very questionshelp shape the voice of not only the department but the brand itself. We are a cohesive unit moving forward together. Every voice matters…regardless of their job title.

Where do you envision the industry moving forward in the coming years, and what are some of the future developments that might take place?

I believe HR professionals will start seeking and valuing data analytics; taking data, arranging it visually, and telling a story. Now, elevate that story by understanding this employee as a human. I believe that there is so much more to a data point. Quite often, it's thoughts and feelings that can be interpreted differently based on the person listening, the moment, and the environment that you are in. Numbers and data do not change; they are objective. Therefore, knowing yourpeople’s data helps ground thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and now you havea more informed story to work with.

Data analytics canidentify and advisewhy someonemay feel underappreciated or confirm that they areattheir market value. Is it valid or not? If it is, how do you walk someone through that conversation? What is the history of the business?  Of the employee?

Future developments will include HRIS dashboards proactively pinpointingareas of concern by department, manager, and employee through thesedata-driven insights.  

Meghan, is there a piece of advice that you would like to share with your fellow peers or individuals looking to venture into the same path as you? 

Do not underestimate the value of building trust and credibility at all levels. By leading with transparency and remaining open to feedback, everyone can play a role in building a positive company culture. Trust guides everyone through times of uncertainty, encourages vulnerability and growth, and fosters teamwork & collaboration, which are all key ingredients for longevity.