5 Ways Big Data is Revolutionizing Human Resources Activities Across Industries

Companies are now well versed in how big data can improve marketing, help detect fraudulent activities, and deliver real-time business intelligence. What fewer businesses are aware of is how big data is revolutionizing human resources. From hiring to avoiding dangerous hires to assuring that the top workers stick with you — big data can bring incredible insight and powerful potential into your HR department. Here’s how.

1. Finding the Best Job Candidates

Where do the great workers come from? Social media or those who fill out an application on your website. Maybe those unsolicited emails are your best resource for excellent workers. Big data can tell you.


Where do the best job candidates go to look for work? Are most of your great workers a product of answering ads at online employment sites like Monster.com, or do you find better workers through professional social media platforms like LinkedIn? Do the best workers answer via email or do they typically fill out an application on your website? Is your top candidate the one who sends in a “resume” or a “CV”? Big data can lead you to the best sources of top candidates, so your recruiting efforts start out better from the beginning.

2. Determining Which Job Candidates will be the Most Successful on the Job

Throughout history, when businesses needed to hire workers, the decisions basically boiled down to a seat-of-the-pants educated guess. Some HR professionals leaned on gut feelings or their own personal experience, while others fell back on corporate policies or culture to select which candidates to extend offers to. Big data can take all of the guesswork out of hires, and it’s often surprising how off base previous assumptions were.

For example, one company had always relied on picking candidates based on the quality of their college, their grades, and what kinds of references they provided. After running the big data analytics, they learned that these things have nothing to do with how good a hire the candidate makes. Factors that did predict who would be the best workers were instead how well their resume was written (without spelling and grammar errors), the fact that they stuck in school until they earned a degree (no matter how prestigious the institution), their previous work experience, and time management skills. Once they began relying on these metrics to select new hires, their annual revenue increased by $4 million!

3. Weeding Out Candidates with High-Risk Factors

Which job candidates are most likely to leave without working out a notice? Which are most likely to sue their employers? Big data can help identify troublesome workers, regardless of their potential on the job performance. These predictions are, however, not without controversy. Is it fair to make assumptions and hiring decisions based on a predictive algorithm? While the jury is still out on this one, it is a potential use for big data in HR.

4. Selecting the Right Benefits to Retain Top Talent

Dangling more money isn’t always the only way, or even the best way, to attract and retain the best workers. Younger generations are more interested in flexible work hours or telecommuting opportunities than merely a paycheck. Big data can help you determine which benefits and perks are actually helpful in luring and holding on to great workers.

5. Finding the Best Career Match for Students

What if graduates were already matched to fields for which they have an interest, proven talent, and special skill set? The workers would be happier and the employers get happier, more talented and productive workers.

Businesses aren’t the only ones that stand to benefit from big data. In fact, workers can start reaping big data rewards before they even graduate. For example, big data can be used to determine the best career match for a student, based on industry historical data and data on the student’s talents, strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. These analytics benefit the student as well as the businesses they work for, because the student is happier and more productive in their chosen field, and the business gets a worker with talents and skills that are proven to be valuable.

Need to learn more about leveraging big data for your organization? Big Data Week is the perfect place for it. See the full speaker lineup here

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