The Atlantic – They’re Watching You Work
Last week The Atlantic published “They’re Watching You at Work.” by Don Peck. It’s a catchy title that implies that your employer is spying on you, watching your every move. But the subtitle is much more Insightful: “What happens when Big Data meets human resources?” The result is probably the most complete look at people analytics that’s been published today. The article paints an excellent picture of how analytics can help in the Talent Management process, especially in helping identify potential and overcome bias. It also features some very good examples where people analytics were applied with a positive result. The article is not brief, but it is worthy of your time.
What Happens After Talent Aquistion and How Can People Analytics Help?
Most of the article deals with the Talent Acquisition portion of the Talent Management cycle. As you read the article, consider this: What if we do use people analytics and we recruit the best people with the highest statistical potential, but then the one of these three things happens?
- They don’t accept the job
- They fail to meet business metrics
- They leave (when you don’t want them to)
How can Big Data help human resources if any of those three things happen? The truth is that Big Data still can help quite a bit, but we have to develop and push how people analytics can help us all the way through the talent management and the career cycle.
Examine the first proposition, “They don’t accept the job.” It may be that the person was the right fit for you, but you may not be the right fit for them. This happens to some extent today, but as people analytics becomes more open and transparent, the door will swing both ways. As you gain more insight into your candidates, people will increasingly gain more insight into your company. The companies that will thrive over time will use analytics to look at themselves and make changes so their top picks return the love.
What about the second proposition: “They fail to meet business metrics”? In that case, the first thing you have to consider is whether you hired the right person but for the wrong job. And by that we mean;
Does the design of the position actually take advantage of the strengths your data supported recruiting hired for?
People Analytics can tell us a lot, not only about that person, but also whether or not our business process and job design actually allow people to succeed and thrive. What good is hiring for a behavioral attribute if the person you put that position in only gets to exercise that muscle on rare occasions?
Finally, imagine if we do use great people analytics as part of our talent acquisition strategy. We save a lot of money by hiring the right person and realize greater profit by having high performance, but then that person quits? We will have spent more on acquisition, and the loss realized from attrition of a high performer is huge. People Analytics can and must help us predict—and ideally prevent or reduce—high-cost turnover.
The bottom line is that People Analytics will have a huge impact on HR well beyond Talent Acquisition. In fact, if we only pay attention to the acquisition side of the equation, it will actually expose shortcomings in other areas of the employee life cycle. A balanced approach to the use of analytics is the right course to take.