Data in HR: Predicting, Solving Employee Issues

Are your company’s workers happy? Is anyone in your workforce wanting to quit?

Ordinarily, those questions would be left to managers to figure out. However, at VMware in Sillicon Valley, they’re testing a new approach – prediction technology from Workday, which makes software for human resources departments.

Software Looks for Personnel Trends

Izenda Tech Blog logoVMware gets notifications when the technology determines that someone might be getting ready to leave, so management can step in before it’s too late. A Bloomberg article details how Workday’s software looks for trends within the company – when promotions were handed out, regional factors, changes in the industry and other data.

Bloomberg went so far as to headline its article “Big Data Knows You’re Going to Quit Your Job Before You Do.”

Technology Rooted in Machine Learning

VMware officials find the technology highly accurate and helpful. However, it takes work to get to that point. The technology is rooted in machine learning. It must integrate a company’s historical staff data with public data sets like a region’s standard of living and what skills the workforce seeks. And the company must help train the software by honestly assessing predictions, affirming when the technology is spot-on and documenting when it is not.

“The system learns over time how each company works and, like an experienced HR employee, develops a gut feeling for which people the company needs to keep a closer eye on,” the article states.

Machine learning, of course, has been around for decades, but has mostly been in the wheelhouse of the big players like Google, Facebook, Netflix or Microsoft.

HR to Embrace Predictive Technologies

Are HR departments ready to embrace predictive technologies? According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report, just 14 percent of HR departments are using data analytics. That compares to 77 percent of operations organizations, 58 percent of sales organizations and 56 percent of marketing organizations.

The reasons why HR has lagged in this area vary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. “Some cite a tendency by HR to over-rely on surveys, intuition and experience in its work. Others argue that HR isn’t getting the technical resources it needs to compile and crunch the data. And still others say HR is drowning in transactional issues,” a SHRM posting explained.

However, the SHRM article also states that the lag will not continue, with predictive analytics taking center stage. “We’re moving into a predictive analytics world,” Gene Pease, founder and CEO of Vestrics, told SHRM. Vestrics is a Carrboro, N.C.-based company that applies predictive analytics to workforce learning programs.

In this new world, Pease said data is forward-looking. For example, it could be used to determine key performance indicators that lead to success, or to identify the most effective method for delivering training to specific employees in a specific department.

In fact, HR experts are forecasting that 2015 will lead to important breakthroughs in the use of predictive analytics, as well as in-memory computing, big data and mobile applications.

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