4 Applications of Big Data in HR (With Real-World Examples)

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Freelance writer Savaram Ravindra shares real-world examples and top applications of big data in HR. 


Today, big data is a buzzword in almost every industry and its usage by global organizations is evolving every year. So, what actually is big data? It is termed as a huge amount of data, be it structured or unstructured data. Big data analytics is used to analyze these huge volumes of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations, and various other insights. Big data analytics enables companies to make effective use of their data to identify new opportunities. This, in turn, leads to more efficient operations, smarter business moves, and higher profits for their customers.

How does big data drive change for HR professionals? Big data helps HR organizations motivate employees, understand them better, plan, and use resources efficiently. Today, organizations have a lot of HR-related data such as skills, educational background, prior roles, tenure, etc. This data can be utilized to better understand the current performance, risk, and composition to enhance the development of the staff, services, and products.

The applications of big data in HR evaluates and enhances practices such as overall organizational performance, employee retention, development, and acquisition. This involves integrating and examining internal metrics, social media data, and external benchmarks to deliver more informed solutions to business problems faced by your organizations.

Now, let’s find out the most efficient ways in which HR departments can leverage big data.

1. Employee Retention

Big data is a powerful tool for improving employee retention in companies that usually experience high staff turnover. Employee exit interviews aren’t helping much in understanding the motivation of employees to leave companies.

With big data analytics, HR teams of today can implement data-driven programs, conduct regular surveys on staff satisfaction, and locate trends and patterns which provide quantitative data. HR professionals can use this data for analyzing their employees in new ways to find out their needs and desires. So, after analyzing this,HR professionals can provide their employees with the right level of flexibility along with the right benefits and perks to retain top talent.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company Xero utilized big data to determine why employees stay as well as leave and using that data, it minimized attrition rate by 20% during a 6-month trial period. The trial was conducted on its call center of 48,700 employees. So, the reduction in attrition of 20 per cent made a huge difference to them.

2. Enhancing Learning and Development

With online learning gaining popularity, corporate learning and development have become more personalized to every learner. The adaptive learning technology, fuelled by big data and analytics, allows test questions, activities, and course segments to be personalized to suit the pace of learning and preference of the learner.

Self-paced and online learning is the most cost-effective means of training your employees than pulling them out of their work for a few days to provide them with expensive training courses. Most importantly, self-paced learning helps blend the ongoing development into the everyday routines of employees.

Danone, a global food company, has successfully built its user-friendly online platform, Danone Campus 2.0. This is a continually updated and easily accessible cloud-based platform where the employees can promote their development via a user-friendly, digital space. Nick van Dam, a global chief learning officer at McKinsey and Company, has stated in the Chief Learning Officer multimedia publication that through this platform, the employees can highlight external and internal knowledge, share best practices, and improve collaboration.

Having a look at the digital transformation happening in universities, schools, and colleges at present points to how data is facilitating corporate development and learning in exciting new ways.

3. Streamlining Hiring

There are applicant tracking and workforce analytics systems built for the purpose of recruiting, and they are great at collecting transactional information. But, you can see the true value of data only if you interpret it and understand the significance of each unit of information. So, the recruiters need to understand big data and interpret it to derive value from it. Let’s see how we can interpret and understand data points.

The best data offers insights, eases the analysis process, and enables companies to quickly discover the right talent. According to ERE, Unity Technologies, a videogame software development organization, uses big data to do just that. They place high-quality data into a recruiting funnel, examine it against set benchmarks, share it with industry peers, and then present their findings with hiring managers, executive staff, and leaders. They utilize data to enhance diversity in their company, evaluating which departments are screening and offering jobs to diverse candidates.

The applications of big data in HR also include talent analytics, which can help funnel a large number of candidates and help you hire a select few from them. The applicant tracking system must have quality data going into it. At Unity, the recruiting managers use several stages of screening candidates after they are trained on the stages. Every new position uses the same stages and only a few people can change the stages.

This is useful for companies as it reduces time to hire candidates. Big data is also useful in assessing personal communication and interaction, take for example, how many candidates responded to calls and how many attended the interviews. So, organizations will fill their job positions with the right talent and recruiters can save time with the help of big data.

4. Employee Engagement

Today, many companies conduct employee engagement surveys but most of them don’t know how to interpret the results. Big data can help them change this. Finding out what inspires employees, what they don’t care about, and what deters them enables employers to motivate their teams to perform better.  Businesses can make better decisions for their staff when have a lot of HR data at their disposal. This is because they can collect the most relevant metrics on their employees to understand, examine, and act upon them.

Employers have to choose a few metrics that will offer them insights on the major areas of concern. Then, they can start finding answers for questions such as, “Do you offer enough salary for them to stay motivated?”; “Do your staff feel privileged to be a part of your company?”; “Do you spend enough time in resolving the problems faced by your employees?”; and so on.

Employers must focus on the major employee-based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your business. By monitoring employees’ performance with big data analytics, employers can appreciate top-performing ones. Big data analytics also helps employers identify and offer support to their unsatisfied and underperforming staff. The predictive capabilities of big data will let employers know which of their employees are prone to health problems or prone to accidents. This will put an end to negative employee behaviour from growing.

Humanyze is a data-driven company that uses analytics and helps organizations determine how their employees communicate in order to increase performance. It provides electronic badges that collect information from staff conversations as they go about their day. This information includes how often people interact, tone of the voice, length of the conversation, how well they show sympathy, etc.

According to Financial Times, Bank of America, one of Humanyze’s clients, has used this technology and found out that its most productive workers took breaks together in which they let off steam collectively and shared tips about tackling frustrated customers. By observing this, the bank implemented collective breaks, after which the performance improved by 23% and levels of stress dropped by 19%.

Today, many HR departments are still trying to learn how to harness this massive amount of data and extract value from it. The applications of big data in HR are diverse, and if implemented correctly, can be very rewarding for organizations of all sizes. Managing big data is crucial for any HR organization that wants to advance and stay ahead in the competition. HR organizations have to leverage the latest trends in the market and learn how to find talented employees and distribute their resources in a better way. Currently, many professionals all over the world are learning data science as this is a booming field; Data science includes many fields that help get insights from data, which is the need of the hour today.

So, how is big data helping HR departments in your organization? Please let us know in the comments section.

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About Author

Savaram Ravindra works as Content Lead at Mindmajix. His passion lies in writing articles on different niches which include innovative/emerging software technologies and digital marketing.

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