How big data analytics is changing HR

The Big Data revolution is here and it came to stay with us forever. I was reading Bernard Marr, who is a globally recognized expert in strategy and big data and I realize how big data is changing people interaction around the world and therefore how we manage people in business environment.

Employers have been using analytics for some time now to understand what makes their staff tick, using metrics such as staff engagement to understand what drives productivity and innovation in the workplace. A clear example is Google and other tech-digital companies.

BigDataThe Big Data revolution has accelerated this practice as well as taken it in new directions. Companies now have more data than ever on their employees, and more tools and technology with which to analyze this data.

Retaining staff (or reducing “churn”) is often a key priority for high performance businesses. Top talent is always in demand, and assuring that it won’t be poached by competitors is always a challenge.

To this end, Forbes carried out a study in 2013 which found a strong link between the rate of pay required to keep a member of staff, and their level of productivity. Companies have leveraged these insights to come up with algorithms which predict when they may be in danger of losing a key member of staff – allowing them to step in and intervene.

The fact is that in the age of Big Data analysis, measuring the efficiency of staff, and identifying the factors that may be affecting it, is a relatively simple process, with the amount of data that employers are now capable of collecting from their employees, and the advanced tools which are available for analysis.

BigDataAnalyticsThe benefits to a company which is able to accurately identify why one particular customer sales representative outperforms his or her colleagues are obvious. However if implemented in a sloppy or discriminatory fashion, they could also lead to serious problems with staff trust, and the level of intrusion into their private lives that they feel.

With many companies now routinely scanning contents of emails and monitoring the activities of their staff on social media, it is clear that some may feel concerned.

As Bernard Marr said, it may sound Orwellian, but how well it is received by staff will probably entirely depend on the way it is used. Will employees resent this level of analysis of their day-to-day activities? Some certainly will. But it will depend entirely on how it is implemented. In short, there are far more useful, and less provocative, uses for employee data collection and analysis, than enforcing discipline over who takes the most bathroom breaks.

It is used as a way to gain an overview of the company as a whole, and how it interacts to get the job done, it will probably generate far less complaints and far more useful insights. And, if the end result is a decision by their employer to give more paid holidays, provide free food, and encourage them to work less hours, it is unlikely they will get many complaints.

Borja Burguillos

Author: Borja Burguillos

Global People Strategy

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