Investment in big data has risen in 2016. That’s according to tech consultants Gartner which reveals that 48% of companies invested in big data this year, an increase of 3% compared to 2015. Planned investment in the next two years is predicted to fall, however. The issue, according to Gartner, is not so much the data but how it is used. 85% of companies who invest in big data remain in the pilot stage as projects fail to progress beyond the initial commitment.
That is certainly the case for the UK which is ranked 14th in the world for digital adoption. As candidate availability falls and the digital skills shortage spirals towards a critical point, big data is HR’s path to navigating through the complex issues affecting the workforce. Breaching HR’s innate big data barrier to move towards analytics requires a clear strategy. Here’s how to achieve that:
Evaluate your current position : Understanding the maturity of your current recruitment process will provide a base from which to evaluate progress. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Survey 2016 found that one third (32%) of businesses felt ‘ready or somewhat ready’ for analytics while 8% believed they were ‘fully ready’ to develop a predictive model. Know your starting point.
Aim for quick wins : PwC’s 2016 Data and Analytics Survey reports that UK executives want more data driven decisions but are held back by their organisations and culture. Demonstrating the benefits with some quick wins will help to overcome internal resistance to big data. Aim to provide insight and solutions into ‘roadblocks’ within your hiring process. For example, a lengthy application process deters candidates from completing application forms, while recruitment analytics identifies the source of your best applicants. Begin with HR technology covering key hiring metric which extracts information from live data within your Excel spreadsheets. Getting the right data is the key, whether ‘big’ or ‘small’.
Collecting data : Most companies have a wealth of data available. Collecting, analysing and understanding that data is the biggest challenge. For example, most hiring teams have access to a wealth of information available from sources such as social media, in-house surveys and LinkedIn. That data provides a starting point and may include:
- Performance management reviews.
- Personal data, including medical history and employee attendance levels.
- The hiring sources of your most successful people..
- Employee participation in surveys and candidate referral schemes.
Utilising analytics : Big data helps to shape your understanding of the online habits of your talent pool, through tracking their digital footprints. It assists evaluation and targeting of job posts and facilitates engagement with people who possess the skills critical to your business. That information helps to create focused candidate personas in order to target future recruitment at relevant talent pools. Analytics evaluates the demographic profile of potential hires, coupled with their educational background, career history and typical salary. Advanced analytics can predict talented employees who may be a ‘flight risk’. When high risk people are identified, HR can adopt a more effective and aggressive retention strategy, focusing on areas such as career development, in-house training and flexible working.
Minimising bias : Data helps to reduce ‘confirmation bias’, broadly defined as a pre-existing belief we may hold which we look for evidence to support. In hiring, this may present itself in repeatedly recruiting applicants from the same social or education backgrounds. The Social Mobility Commission’s newly released State Of The Nation Report 2016 reveals the extent of the problem in the UK, noting that only 4% of doctors, 6% of barristers and 11% of journalists are from working-class backgrounds. Confirmation bias leads HR to eliminate talent from interview selection. Hiring algorithms in big data help to prevent that. As a prime example, Google’s re:Work platform operates on the principle of ‘unbiasing’, which it states begins with ‘education, accountability, measurement and more’.
Don’t over-invest : Big data must work for your business. Scalable HR technology enables your business to expand as employers analyse and interpret the data available. Recruitment software without integrated analytics that provide live and instant data will hinder, not help your hiring process. It should also be mobile friendly and equipped with social collaboration tools.
Ensure ethical use of data : Confidentiality and privacy must be a priority for employers collecting data on candidates which includes personal information. The UK government has accepted a recommendation to create a council of data science ethics to address concerns over the misuse of big data. Establish ground rules for the use of talent analytics within your business to ensure compliance. Choose technology that complies with the Data Protection Act and offers a full audit trail.
Treat big data as your ally
Big data is here to stay. The Economist Intelligence Unit reports that, while cyber-security and web/mobile development are the highest ranked competencies today, big data will replace them by 2018.
Big data is HR’s ally. Utilised effectively it augments recruitment and selection decisions by providing objective data that highlights disruptive elements in the hiring process. No data is perfect but it provides an indication of activity and progress in your talent management strategy. Create a story and positive message around your technology to empower HR. It isn’t about statistics. It’s about enabling your business to create stronger talent pools, and a more robust hiring process.
HR must develop familiarity with and insight into data to communicate its benefits confidently and ensure that it aligns with performance objectives. Adopting a predictive talent model is your goal but breaching that big data barrier is the first step.
Advorto‘s recruitment software provides workflow and structure across the entire hiring process, offering a dynamic database of candidates and analytics. Used by some of the world’s leading organisations, it provides a straightforward first step into HR analytics and big data.