HR Insights, HR Management

3 Ways For HR to Start Building a Data-Centric Approach

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No one could argue that being proactive and smarter about what you do is a bad strategy.

Big Data enables proactive, evidence-based decision-making throughout the enterprise — and yet, HR continues to struggle with adopting this approach. HR should be lining up to take advantage of the insights Big Data analysis offers, but that hasn’t happened just yet.

Still, the pressure is on for HR to step up to the plate and not only make decisions that align with business goals but to actually become part of the business’s advisory and planning process.

What HR needs: A data-centric approach

In fact, PwC’s most recent CEO study revealed that 79 percent of CEO’s have a Chief Human Resources Officer or the equivalent as one of their direct reports. The intention behind this is to integrate HR with business planning at the highest levels within the company.

This is what human resources has wanted for decades. It’s clear that HR has earned that position in the C-Suite.

The skills and successes that enabled HR to achieve this milestone, though, are quite different from what it will take to maintain this status and continue the advancement of the profession. Participating in running a business will require HR to become proficient and comfortable in taking a “data-centric” approach in making decisions and giving recommendations.

While Big Data is an additional layer of complexity, its power to reveal insights that drive efficiencies and forecast business outcomes is exactly the type of analytics that HR must adopt. Big Data finally gives HR the ability to draw a direct connection between its activities and key business outcomes.

Innovation and business results are fueled by the talent within a business.

Talent constraints are the leading cause of businesses not meeting their strategic objectives. In fact, the Boston Consulting Group recently concluded that the Talent Acquisition function has the highest business impact of any of the HR functions on the success of running a business. A data-driven Talent Acquisition team can drive lasting competitive advantage for their businesses by ensuring that its talent acquisition activities are strategically aligned to support two critical business success measures – revenue growth and profitability.

Taking the right approach

There are always questions, fears and objections when a new capability arrives. Will it deliver on its promise? What exactly is it promising? Will I be held accountable if it fails? Should I just ignore it and hope it goes away?

Now that the technologies exist to gather information and glean insights, Big Data isn’t going away. It’s not a fad that can be ignored until the hype blows over; it’s a capability that can radically impact your business’s ability to capitalize on real-time market intelligence and achieve its goals.

Dr. Jac Fitz-enz, the “father of HR metrics and analysis,” was recently quoted as saying, “Without talent analytics, talent management won’t be part of any significant business discussions.”

Embracing Big Data does not have to be an “all or nothing proposition, though. In fact, the opposite approach is what I would advise. The best approach is to start working with Big Data in a low-risk, cost-effective manner that also enables you to quickly realize the value of these efforts.

Talent Acquisition is the prime function within HR to begin this Big Data work.

By learning how to apply these Big Data insights, HR can ensure its role in “business discussions” and fulfill its critical role building competitive advantage through people. Building robust talent pipelines are essential to the recruiting process and online recruiting plays a significant role in building those pipelines.

Effective online recruiting is much more than just tracking views and clicks. This is why data analysis applied to developing online recruitment sourcing strategies and measuring their effectiveness is an ideal place to start. With this in mind, here are three practical ways to start putting Big Data to work now:

1. Proactively build a sourcing strategy

Big Data analysis can tell you in advance which job boards will provide the best results for your particular recruitment marketing efforts. This same analysis can provide the insight into what kind of volume you can anticipate in your talent pipeline and how long it could take to build that candidate pipeline — all with a high degree of accuracy.

The days of posting to every possible job board, waiting and praying for the desired result, and then measuring the results afterward are gone. Big Data derived insight gives Talent Acquisition professionals the ability to be proactive, anticipate the duration of their efforts, and to spend “smarter” based on narrow-casting their marketing efforts.

2. Understand your recruitment marketing effectiveness

As noted above, the forecast provides the baseline for performance expectations. Knowing in advance what to expect from your recruitment marketing efforts provides a benchmark to determine how effective those efforts are.

Measuring in real-time how close actual performance either validates everything is on track or enables the team to rectify the issues to keep the recruiting cycle on track. It is critical that Talent Acquisition ensures the investment in marketing open positions is producing the right results.

3. Compare your effectiveness against your competition

Hyperbole aside, it is clear that recruiting is a competitive activity.

In the end, candidates are only able to take one job. Employers seeking the same talent are at “war” with each other – both to win at recruiting, but more importantly in the marketplace.

Winning requires being in front of the best candidates faster than the competition. If your talent pipeline takes longer to build, and has fewer candidates than the competition, then your selecting for a less desirable pool.

Big Data can provide this type of critical insight. Realizing this in real-time is a powerful combination that allows a team to rapidly work mitigating any issues.

Big Data is a big step for HR

Talent is the fuel that drives an organization and enables innovation. Talent acquisition, then, is a great place for HR to begin using Big Data insights.

These insights enable employers to spend smarter and more quickly find candidates and fill positions. HR is empowered to become proactive and strategic as it supplies the organization with the workforce needed to achieve business goals.

It’s yet another step away from the historically transactional nature of HR, and, a big step into a truly strategic partnership role. Big Data analyses will play an important part in transforming the human resources profession.

It is critical that HR starts the process of incorporating utilizing this powerful tool into their business deliverables. Start small and build on your successes.

This was originally published on eQuests’ Floating Point blog

David Bernstein is the head of eQuest's Big Data for HR/Predictive Analytics Division. This division studies the performance and effectiveness of job postings on job boards and social media sites, enabling organizations to make better-informed decisions about their recruiting and hiring strategy. Bernstein's focus is on yielding critical insights for HR departments to drive talent acquisition and workforce planning strategies. Contact him at david.bernstein@equest.com.
  • Adam

    I agree with the first 70% of the article, but using Big Data to analyze job posting effectiveness is like using a bazooka when a fly swatter would do. It seems more like regular data analysis would do the trick and the tools that are truly unique to “Big Data” – cloud computing, LSH, handling unstructured text, etc. – aren’t really necessary. It just doesn’t seem to be much to gain from projecting from a million data points on job posting effectiveness. I agree that many organizations are very bad at measuring their advertising effectiveness, but to position it as an application of the revolutionary techniques of Big Data is an overstatement. Big Data does have tremendous power and incredible potential in HR, but only if applied to the big problems that HR grapples with at an strategic level.

    • David Bernstein

      Adam – I appreciate your feedback. I would agree that that there are
      some “smaller” data types of analysis an employer can do to get better
      insight into the effectiveness of their job postings. I have blogged on
      some ideas on this and refer to that post at the end of this article.
      However, I do believe this smaller data analysis cannot provide the
      employer with a full picture of all of the components that have an
      impact on their talent acquisition efforts.

      For example – being able to understand the impact of supply & demand on developing sourcing strategies as well as the ability to benchmark online
      recruitment marketing effectiveness against your talent competition
      would be very difficult/near impossible to do without the use of Big Data.

      I would welcome a further conversation with you to better understand your
      feedback and learn from each others insights. Feel free to contact me
      directly at david.bernstein@equest.com so that we can set up a time to
      talk.

      Regards,
      David