Apple Computers introduced Macintosh in 1984 as a premium product against a serious and respectable IBM personal computer. Steve Jobs predicted that Apple would sell 50,000 of them in its first 100 days. But, Apple sold 72,000. The marketing manager said later that they would have sold 200,000 of them if they could have built them! So, they started producing 110,000 a month, but the sales dropped. The data around early adoption was not an indication of mainstream demand in the market. This was a huge setback. Forecasts did not work!
Decades have gone by. We have a hugely improved ecosystem to track and measure business on a real time basis. Huge amount of data are being generated and recorded; information and insights are being gathered each day. Are organizations using these to predict business results?
Given the fact that human resources make a huge competitive advantage for an organization, HR team must leverage technology to predict the likely situations in future and execute its plans accordingly.
Organizations have huge amount of data about their employees : their personal details, education, family background and so on. They also have data about employees’ performance and behaviours. Hence, they can correlate all these three dimensions to determine the typical profile of an employee who is likely to be successful with them. We can learn who is likely to fit well with the organizational culture and the demands of the job. That’s the power of predictive analytics!
Not many organizations in India have been able to leverage analytics. They can deploy a tool that sifts through employee database and performance data; studies the patterns and generates insights. Management team can go through them and apply their combined wisdom to validate the insights. This can give rise to a model to map employee performance with his or her profile. A recruiter can sharpen his or her search better while attracting candidates. The model can prescribe preferred educational qualification, university, city of origin, age profile, family background, personality traits and so on.
Wrong hires or sub-optimal hires cost an organization dearly due to the missed opportunities of generating superior results when we recruit the right people. Such costs could potentially be eliminated if we deploy tools to define the ideal employee profile. Thus the cost per hire can be optimized.
Secondly, big data technologies such as natural language processing help us read the applicant profile and match it with the requirements of the job. Most cases in India generate a huge number of applicants in response to a job advertisement. These technologies help a recruiter stack-rank the applications and hence save valuable efforts. Traditional methods of sifting through a pile of applications on a first-come first-serve manner gives us a very low return on our investment of human efforts.
Looking at the trend of performance results of the past, we get an idea of the likely contribution of an employee. All of us want to be a part of a success story and nobody wants to be on the losing side. When the results go downhill, the concerned employee and his or her manager get together to reverse the trend. When this happens for many people in a team, HR team needs to intervene. Early warning signs are critical to engage with employees and their managers at the right time. The idea is to spot the smoke and douse the fire rather than taking action when the bridge is on fire.
Similarly, it is important to spot the corners of happiness and the green pastures at the right time. The HR team must reward and recognize people and teams when the going is good. They have to build a conducive environment for success to repeat. Again analytics of performance data holds the key. For large organizations, this is super critical.
Organizations have tools and systems to track employee interactions as they carry out their day to day tasks. These tools can learn what employees are looking for and at the same time, they can compare these needs with what the managers are feeling, thinking and doing. There will always be gaps between needs of employees and the experience delivered to them. HR team needs to keep a tab on the gaps continuously and initiate actions when the gaps widen.
Traditionally, business leaders relied on annual employee surveys, their gut feel of the ground reality and opinions of their direct reports. These methods sometimes do not yield the right results. Modern tools help managers recognize good performances and offer instant feedbacks. Peers are able to express their gratitude towards others, help others as subject matter experts and express their views and opinions on an issue. Analysing results of these conversations tell us who the top performers are and how they are feeling. Also, these results show what their managers are thinking about these performers. These tools can help us identify the gaps and prompt us into actions.
Opportunities of using analytics in HR are plenty. Leaders have to believe in their power and deploy the right tools in their day to day business practices.
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