Can Big Data Help You Manage Your Workforce Better?

December 23, 2014
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ImageWe have seen big data being deployed in a variety of industries and functions with great success. It will then come as no surprise then if big data is used to solve the challenges facing managements when it comes to handling their workforce. But it is not as easy as it may seem.

ImageWe have seen big data being deployed in a variety of industries and functions with great success. It will then come as no surprise then if big data is used to solve the challenges facing managements when it comes to handling their workforce. But it is not as easy as it may seem. For one, data analytics only work when there is actual data available to compute – if you are a company with thousands of employees and want to analyze the reasons for the rising attrition rates, how do you do it?

Employees quitting their jobs often do not give the true reason for the move – was it because of a bad boss? Was the company’s HR policies bordering on slavery? Spelling them out in the exit interview could mean burning a bridge they may potentially need to fallback on in future. Such employees might then cite an attractive pay or migrating to another city as reasons for quitting. Analyzing data from such reports could be misleading and can often bring about changes that do not address the actual problem.

It is here that aggregated big data analytics come into play. Instead of using data from one company to analyze information, aggregated big data analytics make use of information available from across the board from multiple companies in the industry to analyze information. Using data available from across the industry on factors influencing the entry and exit of employees to various organizations, such analytics reports will enable businesses to formulate their HR policies better.

A good example of such aggregated big data analytics reports is the Workforce Vitality Report published by ADP.com, a popular business outsourcing solutions provider. This monthly report aggregates information from multiple market indicators to identify metrics that businesses might need to change to stay ahead of their competition in their industry. Similar reports are also available from companies like PWC and CEB in the UK

Such reports help with not just understanding the reasons for employees quitting, but also with various other facets of workforce management including productivity, technology enablement and manpower allocation. For instance, according to the latest Workforce Vitality Report, the job turnover ratio is 6.29% while the change in hours worked has dropped by 0.11%. If the corresponding metrics for your business are vastly different, it could offer a sense of where your business lies against competition.

There are several other ways in which big data could be used to handle the needs of your workforce. Big data based HR analytics tools today help employers understand factors like recruitment cost per hire, new hire failure factor, turnaround rate, elearning abandonment rate and bonus compensation rate. The onus, however, is on the management to get onboard people who can analyze and interpret data that could be translated into meaningful strategies.

Now that is a challenge that big data may not help with.