Dos and Don’ts for Using Big Data HR

Big Data has become the latest buzzword to hit the HR world. Experts say it’s going to revolutionize business. But what is big data? Can it really change the way human resources works? What can you expect from it? Are there risks?

What Big Data Is, and Why It’s Invading HR

In short, big data is any type of analytical software program that can track and analyze small actions on a large scale. At such scales, conventional statistical programs do not have the computing power to draw valuable conclusions in short time scales. For HR, big data represents the decline of spreadsheets and classical databases, and a renewed emphasis on the value of minute changes at an individual level.

Big data: Hard to process with classic methods. Flickr/Kent Bye

Whereas old data systems could identify obvious trends—perhaps that engaged employees are more productive—big data is better able to make specific recommendations—like how long a lunch break should be in order to maximize positive recognition.

There’s now more data available to employers than ever before. Big data can make it easier to sort through everything from salary trends to performance, from applicant sources to office size.

Why Do Companies Say “Yes” to Big Data?

Many businesses and HR divisions have welcomed big data with open arms. They say that it helps them make better hiring choices in a market saturated with highly qualified employees, helps them target indicators of poor performance earlier, and helps them provide more evidence for the underlying value of HR as a functional department.

When Is Big Data a “Don’t” for Companies?

Big data is not without critics. Information overload can make it difficult to decide what to do next, and can take the “art” out of management. For employees, it can make HR feel more difficult to approach, and can devalue the importance of individual relationships.

The Most Important “Do” of Big Data

Big data may not be for everyone, but it doesn’t need to be, either. By allowing computers to take on more of an analytic and forecasting role in the HR space, it frees human resources to focus on more complex, multifaceted, and messy strategic tasks.

The right data can answer the most important questions that HR professionals need to know, making it easier to find time to develop solutions. How is the HR brand affecting recruiting? Are certain tasks more effective at certain times of day? Where is time being wasted?

The best way to grow a business is to understand its vital data, and to respond quickly to it. Big data is one more powerful way of doing exactly that.

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