Blog Articles

Big Data Drives Huge Change for HR Professionals

Michael Gugel, CPO @ GoCo

by Michael Gugel, CPO @ GoCo - April 20th, 2016

We are living in the era of big data. It is transforming the way human resource professionals perform their jobs and provides information to help organizations operate more effectively. While data and analytics have played a role in decision-making for many years, the volume, velocity and variety of information has expanded exponentially. Learning to access, harness and leverage this data makes the human resources department even more vital because it can help propel a company’s business strategy and mission. Let’s take a look at how this dynamic impacts HR and helps professionals deliver greater value to organizations.

Embrace Big Data in HR

The future is bright for those who can turn data into useful information. As companies rally the troops to focus on strategic business endeavors, HR can play a key role by embracing the power of data. More generalists, specialists and technicians will need to shift how they view information. These line positions can be important in communicating trends. They will be able to identify information for HR managers. They also can use it to help other organizational stakeholders by assisting the managers they work with make better decisions and be better informed about their workforce.

Tell a Better Story

A tremendous opportunity exists to use data for storytelling, a vital component of being a business partner, leader or change agent. The first step is to collect it; the second is to analyze it. Neither is effective if the information is not communicated well.

Big data enables managers to tell richer, more impactful stories. Everyone recognizes that turnover is expensive and can be draining to a team. Combining facts and figures with these examples can be more meaningful. The result can help change the workplace and spur greater action. Of course, sometimes change is not necessary. Using data in storytelling can enhance transparency and point out instances where perceptions are not aligned with reality.

Target Finer Talent

Many organizations now use applicant-tracking software. Having candidates apply online is considered old school. Software capabilities continue to improve, with the ability to sort and screen applications based on many criteria -- from education and experience to certifications and training.

These enhancements deliver greater efficiency to hiring managers, and organizations have the ability to gather more information about candidates. It is even possible to ask customized questions, and applicants can provide data and written responses. Narrowing down a large pool of candidates is one of the toughest tasks a manager or recruiter has. While humans still make the decisions, the software makes the process more manageable.

The world also has changed for applicants. Having a compelling resume and complete application is more important than ever. Recruiters can work with more objectivity. The process is less personal in some ways, but in other ways the candidate is better informed because processes have become more transparent. Applicants can now receive regular updates or track their standing in a process.

Refine Compensation & Benefits

Organizations still have to maintain their competitiveness when it comes to compensation. All things equal, most workers gravitate to places where they receive the greatest rewards. For some companies, this means they compete for talent on a regional level. Others compete internationally. One thing everyone has to recognize is that they are operating in a global economy.

To function optimally in this environment, compensation managers need to understand the marketplace. Vast amounts of salary and benefits data are on a variety of platforms, providing the ability to compare benefits plans and options, for example. Some companies do this in-house, while others rely on third-party vendors.

The ability to compile salary information for different jobs and locations is significant. Compensation analysts have access to real-time market data. They can understand the intricacies and cost-of- living in different parts of the world. All this information is important for making compensation and benefit decisions.

Enhance the Value of HR

The time has arrived for HR departments to collect and track data. HR professionals need to be proactive, looking ahead for information that is going to be relevant, and not focus solely on what is needed today. As they compile data in the HR information system, leaders can look back on difficult issues they have faced and peer into the future to anticipate needs. Big data is a tool that helps HR professionals help organizations. It may require a strategic shift in mindset to embrace its potential, but once that transition is made, senior management will recognize and appreciate having insights that will improve company performance.