Big Data is penetrating every aspect of business. However, Human Resources departments may be resistant to surrendering their hunches for hard data. The argument for Big Data in HR, though, is too strong to ignore.

The idea of reducing people to numbers seems like a terrible prospect. Human complexity and emotion converted to ones and zeroes has an unpalatable flavor. And yet, Human Resource professionals will tell you that in order to make individuals happier, more productive, and more capable employees, this is exactly what needs to be on the menu.

Empowering HR departments with Big Data can have lasting impact throughout companies. When intelligently applied, it can make the hiring process more effective, keep employees from leaving the company, and even boost motivation and engagement. It’s just a matter of getting top-brass buy-in and proving that Big Data and HR is a recipe for success.

Highering Hiring Standards

What exactly makes a great employee varies based on any number of factors. However, it’s not impossible to pinpoint exactly the traits a prospective worker should have in order to succeed within your organization. By collating the data of current and past team members, certain patterns will emerge that will allow HR managers to determine the perfect fit for a team.

In retail, HR departments have evaluated successful sales teams through sales numbers, performance data, and employee survey data to develop a pre-screen survey that identifies strong potential candidates. Guesswork and gut feelings are either verified or invalidated, making the art of HR more into a science.

Evaluated Evaluations

Left without strong digital tools to analyze an employee’s success, the evaluation process lacks the necessary ingredients to be a powerful tool for an organization. By comparing qualitative data like how an employee talks and who they take their breaks with quantitative data like how high their sales numbers are, companies can determine that group breaks lead to a 10% increase in productivity.

In the often cited, 2004 European Management Review study on car factory productivity, Kogut et al. determined that success is only possible through a confluence of factors and attributable qualities. Improving one aspect of an employee’s work life will not increase their efficacy across the board. HR needs to use Big Data to discover the best ratio of improved work environment to improved worker productivity.

Turned Down Turnover

Employee turnover is an extremely high expense for any company. With the cost of finding and training a new employee reaching heights of double the former employee’s salary, turnover should be avoided at all costs.

With Big Data, companies will be able to use predictive analytics to determine when a cascade of turnover will occur. In-depth investigation into employee personalities can reveal that creative personalities are more likely to stay at a call center job longer than inquisitive ones. Or employees belonging to more than one but less than four social networks stay put longer too. These insights can then be applied to the hiring process to find employees who fit and won’t quit.