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Human Resources (HR), although one of the most important departments in a company, is often overlooked. However, HR supports the entire lifecycle of an employee, from initial hiring to leaving, and helps your company to function properly.
But to be effective, HR also needs to be up to date. Digital transformation and new technologies are leading to the reorganization of companies from top to bottom. And big data is at the heart of much of this change.
If your HR department is to remain relevant, it must embrace and harness the power of big data. You’re probably asking what big data can do for you? Let’s find out.
What types of data does HR collect?
By necessity your HR department collects personal data from your employees. This can include date of birth, gender, religious beliefs, and ethnicity. They will also have data on employment history and educational background as well as records of any disabilities or health conditions that may need to be accommodated.
They will continue to accumulate information right up until an employee chooses to leave their position. Data such as days taken due to illness, employee reviews, promotions, and any disciplinary issues will all be filed away in an employee’s personnel file.
There is a wealth of data available that can be utilized to benefit your HR department and the running of your company as a whole. However, it is essential that you stay on both ethical and legal grounds when storing and handling this personal information. You need to ensure that you are compliant with all data protection laws that are applicable, such as GDPR in the European Union.
Moreover, you should always be transparent about how you use their data. Seek employees’ consent before doing anything with their information and keep them updated as to what data you’re using, how, and for what purposes (certain legislation enforces this anyway). You should use electronic signature software for authenticity. There are many options out there. You might want to look at your commercial template to see what kind of software best suits your company.
Utilizing big data can help your HR department improve immensely, but you should always handle sensitive data legally and with your employees’ permission.
What is big data?
We’ve all heard of data. It powers practically every aspect of the modern world, facilitating web searches, weather forecasts, and more. Big data is denoted by the size and scale of the data being collected. And today, more and more companies are exploring its benefits.
For example, big data can help companies to carry out more personalized marketing and project management. Or it can be used to power machine learning, helping to improve workflows and processes. Practices such as extract transform load are useful to analyze data and boost business. In short, big data helps companies achieve success in the modern world.
The importance of analytics
Of course, simply having data is not enough. If big data is to be useful, you need to understand it. This is where analytics comes in. The best analytics tools provide reports and visualizations to help you break down and understand your data. Google Data Studio is one popular option, although there are many alternatives.
Storing your data
Collecting so much data means you need a place to store it. There are many cloud-based options available which eliminate the need to invest in kit, maintenance, and space. One example is the apache parquet format. This is a cost-efficient option for storing big data of any kind.
How can big data impact HR?
Here are 10 improvements that big data can bring to HR.
1. Reduce poor hiring decisions
This is arguably the most effective benefit of using big data in HR. Poor hiring decisions impact negatively on companies as finding candidates takes time and resources. A poor decision can mean that you’re forced to repeat the entire process again. But big data can support you in the process.
Just as each candidate often relies on their favorite CV template when applying for jobs, recruiters often rely heavily on CVs to make hiring decisions. But data can provide assessment scores based on a candidate’s performance in carrying out tasks you set upon receiving their application.
The type of tests you set will vary depending on the position you’re looking to fill, but often include tasks based on emotional intelligence, cognitive ability, or job specific skills and knowledge.
Using the data gathered from these tasks you can compare and contrast candidates against the criteria you have set. You gain better insights into their abilities and can quickly identify the candidates with the skills and experience applicable to the position.
By taking a data-driven approach to hiring you are not only speeding up the process but increasing the possibility that the applicant you choose will thrive in their new position.
2. Close communication gaps
Too often, HR departments are seen and treated as separate from the rest of the company. To be effective, HR needs to communicate with employees across your company. For example, onboarding is a crucial step for new employees, offering a chance for workers to learn the ins and outs of their role.
HR needs to have well-established communication channels with other departments if onboarding is to be successful. Communication gaps can slow this process and make onboarding less effective.
For enhanced communication, information needs to be regularly exchanged between departments and HR. Too often, this isn’t the case. But if you use the cloud alongside big data, information is centralized. Departments can access data as soon as it is required.
3. Find the best recruitment channels
Your company probably uses many different channels to find candidates. Perhaps you have invested in the best referral program software to advertise. There is a strong logic to this, the more widely you promote, the bigger your pool of applicants. But sometimes you can spend a lot on specific channels and get very little in return.
Let’s take an example of advertising on Indeed and LinkedIn for the biotech industry. Through Indeed you get 100 applicants, but on LinkedIn you only receive 12. You’ve spent the same amount of money but received uneven results.
But with the support of big data you can identify the best channels before spending any cash. You can analyze previous recruitment efforts and find the most successful channels. This saves money and helps to get better results.
4. Detect patterns in employee absences
When employees take sick leave, it can adversely affect your company. This is especially the case if multiple employees are unwell at the same time.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about sickness. You can, however, prepare. This is where big data comes in. Perhaps there’s a certain part of the year when workers get sick. Big data can help you to pinpoint when exactly and create a plan to mitigate issues related to lower productivity and increased stress.
5. Create more effective courses
Companies often view courses as resource-heavy, time-consuming, and providing little in return. Less than half (41 percent) of companies invest in in-person training. But when carried out correctly, training can provide workers with valuable new skills.
Data analytics can help you to create more engaging and effective courses. For example, you can gain insights into the individual learning patterns of specific workers. The more you understand how workers learn, the better you can tailor your training materials to suit them.
6. Boost employee retention
Workers moving on to new opportunities is natural. But you can take steps to reduce the number of employees that leave and help retain your top talent.
For example, there might be a specific aspect of your company that is impacting employee morale. Perhaps some employees feel that they are missing out on opportunities to progress. It’s important to identify the causes and take steps to reverse them.
If your HR department keeps a close eye on big data analytics, it can identify problems more quickly. By collating data on salaries, work loads, possibilities for promotion, and from employee reviews you can use predictive analysis to identify which employees may be more likely to resign and address those issues quickly.
You can also identify patterns in resignations. Perhaps you see an increase in staff leaving the company in January or during the summer. By analyzing this data you can pinpoint why this is happening and take action.
Sometimes there will be little you can do to prevent a member of staff from choosing to leave. But, by gathering data as to why they made the decision you can identify common causes and reduce the possibility of this happening in the future.
Moreover, using this data you could, for example, use spark streaming powered real-time analytics to create employee retention strategies. You can share these strategies with different departments for a more unified approach to boost employee retention.
7. Introduce automation
Automation means simplifying and reducing processes and, used alongside big data, can be of huge advantage to your HR department. By combining the two and introducing big data automation the time needed to prepare data for analysis will be greatly reduced and your data will be collected and organized into a more accessible and manageable format.
Automation has other uses in HR too. It can be used to streamline the following:
- Dealing with paperwork such as forms and documents.
- Allocating employee benefits.
- Ensuring that payments and salary changes are made on time.
Not only does automation free up more time for strategic planning but it also reduces human errors. You’ll have an HR department more dedicated to building connections with employees, and less focused on admin.
8. Generate performance scores
It’s vital to keep an eye on employee performance. If an employee is underperforming, it’s important to find out why. Equally, if a worker is producing good work, it’s important that they get recognition for their effort. Assigning scores to employees provides a simple way of monitoring performance.
Of course, it’s better to have an accurate and reliable scoring system. Big data-powered AI has no biases and provides logical data-based scores for employees.
Big data-powered HR is the future
Legacy modernization trends prove that the role of data in companies will continue to grow. When introducing big data to your company, HR is a great place to start. As detailed here, you can boost employee retention, improve key team management and performance processes, and enhance hiring decisions.
But why not go one step further? Globalization Partners offers one single solution for simplifying all of your HR processes. With our Global Employment Platform ™, you can hire anyone, anywhere, in just a few clicks.
Change can be daunting, but by getting ahead of the curve you can beat your competition. So, why not embrace the future? See how big data can play a part in your HR department’s success.
Speak with one of our experts today, and see how we can help you.
About the author:
Pohan Lin is the Senior Web Marketing and Localizations Manager at Databricks, a global Data and AI provider connecting the features of data warehouses and data lakes to create lakehouse architecture. With over 18 years of experience in web marketing, online SaaS business, and eCommerce growth. Pohan is passionate about innovation and is dedicated to communicating the significant impact data has in marketing. Pohan Lin has also published articles for domains such as SME-News.