5 Big Data Trends and What They Mean for HR

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5 Big Data Trends and What They Mean for HR

Big data trends are echoing throughout HR but are still confounding experts. How can these trends be applied to a subject so complex – people?

While ‘people analytics’ empower HR to make more informed business decisions, sometimes it can feel as though there is simply too much data to sift through. And while it is true that data-driven decisions can be challenging, it is also empowering organizations with a much more strategic, credible, and higher impact HR.

Read on for 5 powerful ways you can convert your unused talent data into quality business intelligence.

To sort or not to sort: How to define which metrics are useful

Understanding what drives an organization is key to identify which metrics should guide strategic decisions. In people-focused organizations, this knowledge is often found in their current employees during training sessions, onboarding and performance reviews. When this data is collected, trends may emerge that can guide HR into action.

But, these aren’t the only measures. Common HR metrics include:

  • Recruitment
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Training
  • Workforce
  • Organisation effectiveness
  • Retention
  • Performance/career management

There are three steps necessary for converting this data into useful information. These are:

  1. Predictive analytics
    The attempt to forecast what could happen in the future based on what has happened in the past.
  2. Analysis and monitoring
    Gathering data related to why events have happened and what is happening now.
  3. Reporting
    Outlining what has happened in a clear way that can be used for comparison in the future.

All of this information can then be presented as actionable intelligence. This information can also be used to feed future predictive analytics to better forecast a similar incident before it happens.

Gathering and evaluating HR analytics is an ongoing process. Effective payroll software or HRIS will cycle through the above steps to refine the data and make it more useful.

Leveraging people analytics

Once you’ve established which metrics best define your organization and its processes, embrace these 5 powerful ways you can employ big data.

1. Attracting the best talent from the outset encourages success

As an HR professional, you have direct access to data regarding what it takes to be successful in your organization. Some such factors may include resilience, the ability to take initiative or to apply creativity to complex situations. In some organizations, these qualities are marked as core competencies. Knowing which behavioral values best suit your organization enables you to look outside of typical hiring indicators, such as years of previous experience.

Harness the data at your disposal and find a candidate who reflects the traits your organization values most.

Additionally, it can be helpful to identify traits that will make new employees successful, even before they’re hired. Throughout employment, gather information on the source of the hire, any salary increases, time to promotion and overall effectiveness. All of this employee information can be used to find the most appropriate hire in the future.

2.  Knowing why employees leave is the key to retention

Keeping your employees can no longer be solely about who to hire, who to promote and who your key performers are. You also need to understand why your employees leave to gain insight into how to retain your employees.

When HR and management can foresee employees moving on, and have the opportunity to implement early retention strategies, attrition becomes less problematic. The ability to predict in advance which top performers already had a foot out of the door, and why, means key performers can be retained before they are tempted to move elsewhere.

3. Understanding company culture drives HR policy change

Human Resource professionals are the influencers of many of the necessary changes being made to corporate culture. The challenge is having enough information to make decisions about the use of tools for change. These tools include:

Training and development

Training programs can be designed to help employees demonstrate the behaviors most desired by your organization’s culture. Those who fit the culture can be offered additional training opportunities to advance to positions where they can lead by example.

Payroll programs

Where additional compensation and financial rewards are used to encourage behaviors that reflect company values and positively impact company culture.


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The organization itself determines the type of employees that it attracts. Savvy HR professionals will always look for more than just the right skills and capabilities in an applicant; they should additionally need to decide if the candidate will be a good cultural fit for the organization.

Tip: This is made easier with the use of people analytics collected during step one of this article.

4. Employee self-service improves your data quality

Quality ERP systems are now packed with a comprehensive range of tools to help HR and payroll teams gather data much more effectively.

Consider the value of self-service applications that handle:

  • Timesheets
  • Expenses
  • Absences

Effective ERP software makes it easy for your team to keep track of their own time, record their expenses and book their leave, and there are no issues with duplicated documents passed from employee to management to HR. By centralizing all of these tasks in one portal, all actionable tasks can be managed remotely. Plus, all of the information is pooled in one location for ease of ongoing reporting.

The rise of collaboration and task management tools ensure your team is on top of their time and deadlines while managers can quickly resolve any potential issues.

Pro tip: Look for ERP systems with mobile apps that allow you and your employees to complete tasks whether you’re in the office, at home or on the road.

5. Change implementation allows for dynamic decision making

Collecting big data is both a benefit and a drawback for every organization. Every business can collect data and implement strategies at their disposal; the difference is doing so more effectively than the competition.

It must be your priority to make use of your organization’s valuable data in a timely manner.

Staying ahead of your competition requires dynamic flexibility. Predictive analytics with ongoing analysis gives your organization leverage, and your business becomes better poised to act quickly if necessary.

Big Data = Transformation

Any organization who wants to see real results in response to their talent strategies needs to analyze the data available to them, and then take action. This data already exists in your organization, and ERP solutions with the capabilities to match your data requirements can give you exactly what you need to work most efficiently.

Transform your data into action, then optimize this action over time. Using people analytics is an ongoing process, not a one-off project. Break it down into bite-sized processes, and you’ll be aligned to effectively transform your organization.

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