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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

Even Small Data Holds Value for HR

Big data has been an HR buzzword for a decade now. Yet despite the thousands of articles and conference workshops, there’s a lingering sense among human resources professionals that data analytics are the domain of only the largest companies.

There’s some truth in that, but it’s also not the whole story. Big data, or in the case of most employers, smaller data, can give HR leaders all sorts of valuable workforce insights — the kind of insights that can lead to better decision making, smarter hiring and improved retention and workforce planning.

Writing for the Academy to Innovate HR, its founder Erik van Vulpen, concedes that much of the data HR has is messy, often unreliable because of inconsistencies in maintaining it, and the volume is limited and doesn’t much change. Despite those limitations, he says, “When leveraged the right way it can be used to uncover workforce risks, make better people decisions and help in building a competitive advantage for the firm.”

For example, van Vulpen points to the “large piles of unanalyzed, written performance reviews” most companies just file away. Using natural language processing (NLP), these reviews can be turned into valuable data, creating scores not just for employees but for the managers who perform these reviews.

NLP can also be used to analyze employee emails and messages to glean insights into engagement and attitudes of groups and the workforce as a whole.

Building on van Vulpen’s insights, SmartBrief explains that even smaller data can improve hiring. Rather than rely solely on that elusive “chemistry” hiring managers talk about, HR can analyze the records of the best workers to identify the skills and backgrounds to look for in new hires.

More than a few companies that routinely recruited only at “name” colleges, broadened their approach when they found that many of their top performers came from smaller, less well known schools.

“When applied to recruiting, employers can utilize big data to better predict hiring needs, while improving their quality of hire and employee retention,” Insperity’s John Feldman tells Forbes.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to using data in human resources is changing the way HR people approach decision-making.

Says Dr. Jaclyn Lee, CHRO at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, “The HR profession has always relied on gut instincts using very descriptive data. The idea is to change your mindset from one that’s reactive to one that’s proactive.”

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash


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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

How to Create Employee Surveys With Business Impact

December 17th, 2020

Surveys are as much a part of the human resources lifecycle as open enrollment and annual reviews. Unfortunately, so many surveys are little more than checklist exercises that rarely make a difference.

“Organizational surveys are at their best when they provide more insight than just the current state of engagement,” writes Dr. Sarah Johnson on TrainingMag. Yet too many surveys “do little to provide new insights or prompt the organization toward meaning improvements.”

That can be fixed, says Johnson, VP of enterprise surveys and analytics, Perceptyx, with “a few simple changes.”

Her article, “3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Employee Surveys,” explains how HR professionals can create a survey program that is meaningful and makes a positive difference.

Despite the title, Johnson’s suggestions, are not snap-your-fingers simple. They require research to craft a survey that will deliver results that matter, then distilling the data into a presentation that managers will embrace and use to create action plans they will actually implement.

In creating the survey, Johnson says to set aside the usual advice about keeping the survey brief:

“While that may make some sense if all we want to do is collect data to track a metric, it doesn’t do much to create survey impact. Surveys have impact if they collect data on issues that matter to the organization and when they provide insights into critical challenges that lead to problem solving.”

Gather information on the daily challenges managers and employees face, she advises. Review the company strategy and involve senior leaders to discover what information would be of greatest value to them.

Craft your survey based on the company needs.

Once the survey data is gathered, Johnson says it’s critical to make it easy for managers to understand and communicate the results to their employees. She suggests creating a dashboard that describes the key takeaways and findings. Put together a presentation-ready set of results and talking points for the managers.

Then, she says, help them put together an action plan to address the issues. “Encourage managers to adopt a 3-step process to action planning:

  1. Identify 1 issue from the survey results.
  2. Plan 2 actions to address it.
  3. Follow up with the team 3 times to discuss the progress of the action plan.

Her third recommendation for improving the value of surveys is to combine the results with data HR already has in the HR information system. That, says Johnson, provides all the analytical tools you need to develop insights around such HR issues as turnover, productivity and the customer experience.

“Think of your organization’s survey program as not only a valuable tool that helps managers troubleshoot organization challenges and engage with employees to implement improvements, but also as the engine for an HR analytics program.”

Photo by Celpax on Unsplash


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Green Key