It’s clear that Big Data is fast becoming an over-used term for HR professionals. How does this really support HR’s determination to find and holding on to top talent?
As larger trends focussed on Big Data have affected other dimensions of the business world, the tools in an effective HR professional’s skillset have gone through a seismic change in recent years. Now, knowing how to gather and interpret recruitment data is equally or more important than knowing how to pose the right interview questions. Today, this highly analytical, scientific attitude has filtered out into the wider world of recruitment.
The trend towards HR as a number-crunching exercise has been ramping up over the last 20 years. However, many HR professionals are feeling like they’re being left behind, motivated by a sudden and urgent need to upskill in both statistics and data analysis.Research by Josh Bersin and colleagues in Delloitte University Press revealed that 78% of large companies rated HR and talent analytics as “urgent” or “important,” but 45% of these respondents rated themselves as “not ready” in this area. Becoming data-literate is no longer a matter of staying ahead of the curve — for businesses, it’s a matter of life and death. People and Strategy provide a useful guide to HR analytical skills, along with estimated time training required to attain competency.
What Does it Really Mean?
Despite its ubiquity, “Big Data” is an ill-defined phrase, and its meaning tends to morph into whatever the context demands. It’s more useful to talk about specific methods that are most relevant to the field of HR.
When promising hires leave unexpectedly, the business takes a big hit in the form of relocation costs and recruitment man-hours. Predictive analytics allows HR staff to use data to forecast the employment lifecycle and predict how potential employees will likely respond to their new working environment. Using these methods will allow you to test different scenarios and find the best fits. iNostix elaborates on a wide variety of scenarios where predictive analytics can provide crucial insight.
What if you could distill exactly what makes your top players great and base your hiring criteria on that kind of undefinable star power? The field of talent analytics lets you strip away red herrings and confounding factors to find out what really amounts to a great candidate. Professor Michael West has spent decades gathering data on NHS staff, finding strong correlations between staff engagement and staff absenteeism and turnover, as well as key performance markers.
HR analytics is about studying your workplace’s structure and function, the end-goal being a more cohesive company culture in which everyone works better together. Anne Loehr explains in Cornerstone on Demand how this set of techniques can be particularly useful in the field of diversity and working against discrimination in the workplace.
The field of human capital analytics is all about the bigger picture. Globalisation means that top business minds now think of talent as a measurable, finite resource that must be allocated carefully for maximum effect. Deloitte’s overview on this area of statistics underscores how data science can help HR professionals expand their thinking.
Integrating Data Science Into Your Practice
Using these core analytical skills symbiotically will result in a cohesive, agile organisation with a clear vision and the talent and resources it needs to accomplish its business goals.
These astonishing advances in data science might make it seem like the traditional HR department is soon to be obsolete, but not everyone is ready to write off the human element. As Michael Letizia told Comstock Magazine, “Data is a wonderful tool, but it’s not an absolute. When it comes to human capital, you have to take human factors into account… What data doesn’t do is provide you that emotional piece.”
In truth, the key to success in the age of analytics seems to be building a harmonious partnership of hard data and good old-fashioned people skills.
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