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Managing Talent with Data

Large and medium sized organizations are learning how to find and make use of data to reveal things they don’t know or haven’t considered when it comes to hiring, monitoring and retaining employees.

The growth of data-driven decision making in human resources comes courtesy of technology that has made it possible to collect, store and organize information such as performance ratings, ROI, development plans, employment history and salaries, according to research from The Economist Intelligence Unit in partnership with the SHRM Foundation.

Of special note is the use of Big Data – information that can’t be handled by customary databases because it is too large and/or complex – and interpreting that information using analytics.

Hiring and Retaining Employees with Data

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Gallup’s State of the American Manager research found that when organizations hire the best people for a position, they gain boosts in productivity, sales and profitability. The same companies also saw decreases in employee turnover and absentee rates. Some successful organizations use data and analytics in the recruitment process along with interviews to identify qualities in people most likely to thrive in a particular role.

High-quality candidates possess role-specific qualities such as knowledge and experience – information (or data) that companies can compare to performance measures demonstrated by current employees.

Gallup also found that high-performing employees seek out organizations that match with their personal characteristics, challenge their staff, provide opportunities for professional growth and harbor a strong reputation.

Software firms such as Jibe and Talenytics are making the recruiting process easier by collecting and interpreting data such as the time it takes to fill a position, sources for finding applicants and cost of hiring people. Talenytics also develops scorecards that can assess job candidates after the interview and provide feedback to recruiters so they can make adjustments to their processes.

Online dating site eHarmony, known for its success in using data to connect people with their ideal partner, is applying its matchmaking algorithm to job seekers and companies through a platform called Elevated Careers. It differs from job search sites like Monster.com, CareerBuilder and LinkedIn.com, which simply show job seekers thousands of job openings.

With Elevated Careers, job seekers create a profile and that information is then paired with eHarmony’s matching technology to connect individuals with job matches based on skills, values and personality. Searches can be conducted based on keywords and other parameters. Candidates can directly apply for jobs matching search queries, as well as view compatibility information and predicted job satisfaction with a specific organization.

Employers who want to begin using Elevated Careers are not required to complete a compatibility questionnaire. The site’s database is constantly being updated using offline research and information from similar companies and other job seekers.

In terms of retaining employees, using predictive analytics can indicate which employees are looking to leave, identify the need for mentoring, new jobs, or advancement – information organizations can use to improve employee engagement and decrease turnover.

For example, Wells Fargo worked with Kiran Analytics to develop a predictive model to determine qualities in engaged, high-performing tellers and personal bankers; the bank then used that model to hire people that fit the criteria, according to a McKinsey Quarterly article. At the end of the program’s first year, new employee retention was up by 15% for tellers and 12% for personal bankers.

Using Data to Analyze Employee Behavior

Companies are also finding that pairing analytics with data-monitoring software gives them an idea of what’s really happening within their ranks, from suspicious behavior to signs of potential departure.

Employees conducting a clandestine job search may be surprised to discover their bosses suspected as much. That’s the aim of software company Joberate, which can determine the likelihood of an employee’s departure based on a person’s public social media account activity, according to a Washington Post article.

Data-monitoring software firm RedOwl Analytics claims it can determine if an employee is likely to do something that could harm a company by analyzing employee communication to look for changes in behavior, according to an article in Quartz.

While emails, instant messages, computer logins and other online activity at the office may shed light on employee behavior, a Boston-based company, Humanyze, makes it possible for companies to gain additional insights from another source – smart ID badges.

Originally an MIT Media Lab project, the badges come with tools people expect to find on mobile devices – e.g., microphones and Bluetooth connections – to record employee movement and interactions, according to a TechCrunch article. Humanyze compares the employee data collected against the organization’s key metrics to determine if a person’s activity at work can affect a company’s performance.

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