We live in the age of big data and while it has been transforming several industries since the late ‘90s, it has only recently come in full force to the world of human resources. For decades very little in HR has changed, while there was always some innovators the general role has been one of hiring, firing and managing payroll and attendance systems. This new age of digital HR is completely changing the landscape, allowing companies to automate many of those processes and using rich analytics to make key decisions that set the company apart. Just as Arthur C. Clarke predicted in in the ‘70s, companies no longer have to limit their search to a small geographic area but can search for the best talent around the world. This presents new challenges which the same technology will help to address by immersing those workers in a digital system of onboarding and engagement throughout the organization.
Many employers now use an online service to help process payroll and benefit systems. Others use talent management systems to save time and lower costs but the single greatest benefit is the data itself. The troves of information being collected can be analyzed to produce valuable insights that can have a material impact on the company. With this actionable data solutions can be brought to senior management and instead of being ignored they will likely implemented, since you will also posses the metrics to measure and show the real return on your decision. HR managers will be able to truly justify and show why they need more authority and funding since metrics will back up just how much this investment in the infrastructure of people can change the bottom line. Better hires, lower turnover, higher employee satisfaction and increased productivity – these define a successful company.
With these HR analytics you’ll be able to tell at the drop of a hat your turnover rate from one quarter to the next and predict how certain changes might affect it further. You’ll see which employees might be thinking of leaving with trends and red flags that need your attention. You’ll be able to see the key competencies that define the success of your organization and glaring weaknesses that need further development. Artificial intelligence will help by automatically looking for these trends and learning from them to present the best recommendations that are specific to your organization. Just like a CRM serves as a clearinghouse these insights will come from the full collection of demographic, payroll, review and survey data.
One thing that is fundamentally clear is that HR managers are already stretched too thin and already struggle with getting executives to invest further in people development. These newer platforms are all geared towards automation, making human resource managers jobs easier and focusing their time more on analysis and implementing internal innovation. The need for digital experience and an analytical mind is in intense demand in the field and is expected to grow in the coming years. Much in the way that by 2008 many companies started to realize that social media and digital marketing required them to rush to hire the best and brightest minds they could find so they did not miss out on the new competitive advantage. Here’s some examples of companies that were ahead of the curve and have already engaged the HR of the future.
Google has been a leader in using people analytics and big data to create a better organization. These teams of human resource analytics employees report directly to the vice president. They identify the key traits of great managers and even conduct optimization experiments through their PiLab that tries different environments and strategies in order to find the most effective for the whole organization. Google has their own in-house system for predicting which employees are most likely to leave the company both to help stem the tide and to prepare for possible departures. They use hiring algorithms to correct their own biases like hiring for a short-term need and have had great success in predicting which candidates will likely succeed and be a good culture fit for the organization. They’ve calculated that the average employee generates $1,000,000 in revenue and $200,000 in profit each year. They’ve also been able to show that the value of a true rock star employee can be as much as 300 times greater than an average one, showing a compelling reason why not all talent should be compensated equally.
In the early days of the 20th century Henry Ford already showed he had a different way of doing things with his human resource policies. Best practices always hired for education but Henry Ford looked more towards character, work ethic and ability to learn. He built his organization into a community and over the last several decades the company has taken a further leap into reliance on data. They now have a large analytics group that examines workforce planning and challenges that need to be addressed. They have their own HR technology platform and have built a culture that teaches a reliance on data rather than emotion and opinion.
While many of these companies beat the curve and developed their own systems and algorithms there are now services that allow you to turn your HR into big data. In the coming years it’ll be easier for small to mid-sized businesses to make the switch and transition to a culture of continuous innovation in human resources even without the resources of a billion dollar corporation. According to Bersin by Deloitte only 4% of companies have a completely developed HR analytics capability while the majority still remain in the old fashion reactive category of simply reporting what is the state of now.
Many services now offer cloud-based system that collect all HR data and help manage many HR tasks. There is plenty of data showing just how much of a competitive advantage a full datafication of HR can cause.
71 percent of employers that embrace big data shorten the timeframe between application and hire and 67 percent implementing talent analytics lower their cost per hire. Forbes found that“ companies who go through the process of “datafying” their HR organization  are seeing 2-3x better results in quality of hire, leadership pipelines, and employee turnover.”
Where level would you put your organization on the chart?