HR Star

For Dawn Kleinman Klinghoffer ’91, managing people effectively is both a science and an art
by Katie Neitz
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the “great resignation,” many employers have had to reevaluate how they retain employees and ensure they feel empowered and energized about coming into the office — or logging in from home.

Dawn Kleinman Klinghoffer ’91 leads that effort at Microsoft. As vice president of human resources business insights, Klinghoffer oversees a global team that compiles and studies “people analytics.” Using a detailed biannual employee survey and other employee listening tools, they collect data to help the company’s leadership improve the employee experience and support HR priorities such as global diversity and inclusion, talent management, and learning and development.

Dawn Kleinman Klinghoffer headshot
Photo: courtesy of Dawn Kleinman Klinghoffer ’91
Dawn Kleinman Klinghoffer ’91 oversees people analytics at Microsoft, where she helps managers help employees thrive.
Under Klinghoffer’s leadership, Microsoft switched its focus from employee engagement to employee thriving — an intentional shift that focuses on building meaningful relationships between managers and employees to boost employee energy and prevent burnout. “Our goal is to help our human resources leaders use data to make better decisions,” she says. “We do that while retaining the ‘human’ element of HR by ensuring the data has context behind it. In this way, we bring art and science together to make the best holistic decisions for our employees.”

For her efforts, Klinghoffer was named an HR Rising Star of 2023 by Human Resource Executive, a media outlet that covers strategic issues in HR.

Klinghoffer, who majored in mathematics at Bucknell, started her career at Microsoft 25 years ago. Working for the tech giant was a lifelong dream. “As a student at Bucknell, I remember being fascinated by the growth of Windows and impressed by Bill Gates, who was such a visionary,” she says. “Then, in my first job as an actuary for an insurance company, I was introduced to Excel. It was incredible software. I could see the tangible impact that Microsoft made on a global scale, and I wanted to be part of it.”

She eventually got her shot. In 1998, she accepted an accounting job with Microsoft. A few years later, when she was expecting her first child, she asked to move to a part-time role. In an era when companies were not known for their flexibility, she credits Microsoft for being accommodating. She switched to a part-time position in HR, where she was able to combine her background in statistics with her interest in organizational psychology.

Her work makes a real impact on employees’ lives. For instance, when her research revealed that after-hours email can have a negative impact on employee perception of work-life balance, her team worked with the product groups to create a delay feature and to nudge you when you were about to send an email to someone after core working hours.

“We provide data and insights that help managers make decisions and help their employees,” she says. “I love helping people bring their best selves to work every day.”

How Leaders Can Tell if Employees Are Thriving

Listen as Dawn Kleinman Klinghoffer ’91 shares advice on helping workers feel empowered and energized.