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Making Better Decisions – How Data Analytics Are Empowering HR

Nolan Gray Staffing

For decades, human resources has been a rather “soft science” – it was more about massaging egos, comforting employees and sorting out squabbles. But now, leadership is demanding more from its HR professionals – they want their people-whisperers to use data analytics to make smarter workforce decisions. In our tight economy, businesses must make the most of limited resources – including its human capital – and big data can help.

Here are some of the areas that data analytics can improve HR decisions when it comes to recruiting:

Minimizing Human Mistakes. When it comes to hiring, there is lots of room for human error. The person being interviewed may have a bad day or give an off response to a question that gets misinterpreted. The person or persons doing the interviewing may have a personal bias or hiring preference that sees them by-pass what would have been a good candidate. If the interviewer is rushed or busy, they may not give a proper evaluation. Data analytics should take some of the human error out of the human resources and improve staffing efforts.

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Polishing Imperfect Profiling. Companies often have an idea of who they want to hire – a mold they want candidates to fit. Some companies only want recent college graduates – some only want to hire people who are currently employed. Long-term unemployed are often treated as pariahs in the hiring process, yet data analytics have revealed these workers are loyal and their tenure is consistent with other candidates. What HR (or management in general) presumes are characteristics of a good employee for your firm may not be the profile that data analytics reveals it should be.

Screening Smarter. Data analytics reveal some interesting trends that you might not even include in your employment screening process that could help you make hires that stick. Employees who live within 10 minutes of their work are more likely to stay at the company than those who live 45 minutes (or further) away. Potential employees who know at least three people at your company prior to hiring are much more likely to stay. And oddly, workers who use social network sites on a weekly basis are more likely to stay longer. Who knew?

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No doubt we don’t want to change the job title from Human Resources to Data Resources – keeping the human in the process is critically important. Not only is Google reinventing how the rest of do business with its new mobile value tool, but they’re radically rethinking their own as well. Google human resources, for instance, has taken out the human – quite literally – when they changed the name. At the Internet giant, it’s called People Operations (sounds like something done to people rather than with or for people) and relies on algorithms and analytics to eliminate human error.

But since you can’t eliminate humans from the workforce (although Google may be working on it…) it’s important to also retain humanity. The downside is that data analytics are not compassionate and don’t account for amazingly talented outliers the data might discourage you from hiring or retaining. But as an emerging field, not only is it unavoidable but, making the most of big data and its potentially insightful analytics is something HR will be expected to tap into – and you just might learn a thing or two…