Using Big Data requires marrying intuition with logic
With the proliferation of Big Data, the learning seems to be evolving that it’s not about Big Data but big insights. In your opinion, how can data be intelligently deployed to make the HR function more effective?
Big Data is ubiquitous… the real value comes when you ask the right question and then apply the right business judgment to it. The effectiveness of data goes up several times when you marry intuition with logical process. Companies like Genpact are building new mechanisms to capture data and then adding human intelligence and experience to make them more intuitive, therefore bringing science and art together.
For instance, take a traditional process like the employee engagement survey score. We took the standard data dump and then used our core analytical framework combined with social media listening and attitudinal segmentation leading to very interesting insights on how we look at employee satisfaction. It has significantly impacted the way we arrived at our Employee Value Proposition.
Which functions of HR are most impacted by data?
Clearly, data and insights impact the entire hire-to-retire lifecycle but specifically can transform the way companies approach recruitment, supervisory effectiveness, retention and overall productivity of the employee base.
What are the data points that Genpact captures when you are hiring, developing talent, deciding compensation etc. and how is that used?
Our hiring screens have objective assessments that test for cognitive skills as well as technical & domain skills, which we have further customised to our needs and refined tolerance levels to match our recruitment requirements. The hiring ATS (applicant tracking system) based on iRec/Taleo is a reality globally and we have granular “big-data” to continually evaluate our process and take insight-based decisions. For example, we can now track back each hire to a recruiter, who conducted the hire’s HR interview. This will help us to notice variation between the recruiters. Our variable incentive/bonus for recruiters includes a component on early attrition. We used to track early attrition initially, but were not able to tie each employee exit to a recruiter and make them accountable. Similarly, we know basis performance and training yield data what cut-offs to apply in our objective assessments upfront in hiring.
To mine data for intelligence to power the HR function requires specific competencies and skill sets that may perhaps be absent in HR teams today. Do you think this is an accurate assessment? Is this something that needs to be addressed?
Yes… that would be an accurate assessment of most organisations today. However, companies that have a deep heritage of Six Sigma and for whom data drives decisions every day find it easier to do this and therefore have an edge over others. But while our propensity to work with data gives us a head start it isn’t enough – this is an underexplored area that has huge potential.
Is there one metric for ‘people health’ in an organisation that should be tracked?
The usual suspects of engagement, length of service, attrition and so on are tried and tested metrics that continue to be relevant. However, in addition to these, there is another metric that is extremely important to track – the number of employee referrals, which determine the advocacy levels or reference-ability factor. It might seem like an innocuous thing but reference-ability is perhaps the truest measure of engagement – after all it is at the heart of how we measure success with clients though the Net Promoter Score methodology.