Big Data Applications in HR

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
While it may seem that big data lends itself more to healthcare or manufacturing, the truth is that some of its most revolutionary applications can be found in human resource departments.

Using Big Data in HR

Being an employee involves an incredible amount of paperwork, even from the beginning. You have to submit a cover letter and resume, then fill out much of that same information again. If you're hired, then that all goes into the company's employee database - not to mention all the forms and surveys you are asked to fill out while you're employed. Often, you're even asked to provide more information if you end up leaving the company. Wouldn't it be nice to know that all of that information is going somewhere useful?

This never-ending flow of employee information is usually handled by the company's human resources department. Broadly speaking, human resources (HR) is the part of a company that takes cares of finding, training, and keeping employees. So, what does big data have to do with HR?

Big data refers to the sheer volume and wide variety of information that can be collected then used to make predictions and reveal patterns. With the advent of big data, there is a real opportunity for forward-thinking HR departments to apply big data analytics. From making the best hire to understanding why so many people are leaving, big data applications in HR can help make sure that companies are able to go forth with the best talent possible.

Why Big Data?

You may be asking yourself why all this matters. After all, it is the human resources person's job to find the best employees for each role, train them, and keep them happy enough that they don't leave. However, HR's role can require an incredible amount of work: understanding employees' talents, behaviors, and desires can be a herculean task, especially at a large company.

For example, recognizing that your company's corporate culture is seemingly out of touch with how things are on the ground of your organization is one thing, but how do you begin to address this complex issue? Relying on big data can help you identify trends and take some of the guesswork out of your strategy. Perhaps you find that more employees call in sick during times of the year that include more training sessions, and many of those employees eventually leave your company for ones that offer different training programs. Furthermore, with big data to you back you up, you find that this trend isn't recent; it's been going on for years!

Reevaluating the structure of your training program with respect to the company's corporate culture may be a good first step. Once you know where to start, then you can still use big data to further refine your approach. If HR finds itself faced with a seemingly impossible problem, then chances are that they could learn a great deal from big data practices.

Examples of Using Big Data

Let's take a look at some more examples of this in action. First, let's start with the hiring process. A poor hire decision not only costs the time and resources of the HR department, but several other parts of the organization. Big data allows HR professionals to examine how the best hires possible can be made.

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