Employer Branding

Why People Analytics Has Transformed the HR Industry

People analytics is transforming the HR industry, and recruiters need to pay close attention. Ever since there were companies, there have been managers trying to work out who they should hire or fire. With the advent of big data, there has been a radical technocratic shift that is letting apps do the hard work for you.

Recruiters who want to find out more about their candidates, and predict future employment patterns will need to embrace people analytics as well.

What is people analytics?

People analytics is a method of analytics that helps HR managers and executives make decisions about candidates and staff. By using big data, companies can analyse how and when someone is working and when they are not. When it comes to making smart decisions about staff and matching people on projects, algorithms are proving more efficient than humans.

Empirical evidence vs human instinct

When a recruiter has to rely on their gut instinct, there is a clear risk of selecting the wrong candidate or making misguided assumptions. But now, with people analytics, recruiters can get to know their candidates through their aptitude and behaviour instead.

People analytics also helps managers to spot trends and identify problems. Once you accumulate enough data, certain patterns will become obvious, like if a certain employee’s performance has dipped or whether they work better in mornings or afternoons.

Using big data to attract and retain employees are key objectives for any recruitment company – big or small.

It allows recruiters and HR managers to understand:

  • Who is the right person for a particular job?
  • Who are the outstanding employees that could leave, and why?
  • When are they more likely to quit?
  • What could be done to retain the best performing employees?

Time to embrace big data

People Analytics first caught on in February 2013 with this widely shared article, How Google Is Using People Analytics To Completely Reinvent HR. Since then, big-data algorithms have revolutionised the tech industry, and there are now dedicated teams in Google, Intel, General Motors, and HP.

Big data offers a fascinating window into staff’s professional lives. From their heart rate to mouse clicks, HR can analyse an employee’s performance and thus get a better understanding of their capability and behaviour. Employee monitoring can manifest in different forms, with health being an obvious place to start.

Big data is monitoring you

In 2015, the US retail chain Target offered Fitbit trackers to its 350, 000 workers as part of its corporate wellness programme. The company offered them a $60 Zip and in return they will get access to their activity data, such as the number of steps taken in a day, but workers must agree to opt-in first. If they choose not to take part, then they’ll lose company health incentives and potentially have higher health care premiums as a result.

Other apps are arguably more intrusive. For example, Worksnaps, monitors an employee at their desk by taking screenshots, counting mouse-clicks and webcam photos. BetterWorks meanwhile nudges employees to use a Facebook-style application that encourages staff to share what they are doing and cheering on their peers when they perform well.

There is nowhere to hide when you are subject to mouse-clicking and gamification apps. Everybody will know what you have done, how long it took you and how fast you are doing it.

Data screening candidates

Since the mid-twentieth century, there has been multiple tests applied to candidates applying for new jobs. IQ tests, maths and vocabulary tests, personality assessments, and health and safety examinations, are still used by companies recruiting today.

When people analytics goes mainstream it’s going to take recruitment testing to another level. As ever, the technological revolution is taking place in Silicon Valley with video-based apps such as Knack. Their smartphone games are designed by neuroscientists, psychologists, and data scientists to measure human potential.

Play one of their problem solving games and they will analyse how long you hesitate; the sequences you make before taking a decision; how you solve problems, and many more outcomes. By analysing your creativity, aptitude and social intelligence, the Knack app is a data-driven window into a candidate’s soul.

Are you an innovator? A leader or a follower? People analytics reveal more about a new hire than an interview ever will. Offering companies an efficient and timely resource, data-driven apps are proving to be more effective than screening candidates who say the right things, but aren’t necessarily right for the role.

Many companies are now using algorithms to improve their hiring and retention policies and performance levels. As the tech industry continues to push big data, a joined-up approach combining traditional interviews and people analytics is inevitable. Like all good managers, recruiters will have to work smarter not harder to find the right candidates in the future.

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.