Big data is driving changes in every corner of the business world, and your company’s human resources department is no exception.


“Fifty-three percent of HR departments use big data to help make strategic decisions,” writes Aliah D. Wright for the Society of Human Resources Management, citing the society’s own research. They’re using it for recruiting and selecting candidates, understanding employee turnover and managing talent.


Adopting a cloud-based, integrated approach to HR systems can make a huge difference, writes Janine Milne for Diginomica. “With solid data in place, this opens up the possibility for new applications to be able to use that data in new and innovative ways,” she writes.


Here are four areas where your HR department can prevent and solve problems using data-driven approaches.




You know what jobs are open within your company. But, will filling them get you the right employees?


“Having more accurate knowledge of the skill gaps within your organization allows you to create more targeted job ads by listing the exact skills your company needs, rather than hiring based on outdated job descriptions,” writes Steffen Maier for Employee Benefit News. “Internal mobility is also made easier by having better knowledge of who is strongest in the relevant skill/position you’re hiring for.”




You want your employees to be ready for anything. Data analytics can help you understand if your training programs are working. “How do you measure … the effect of a training program? This is especially difficult when your company only tracks performance annually,” Maier writes. “Data based on continuous feedback is providing new answers.”


Data can also help you recognize leaders within your workforce. “By analyzing upward feedback, HR can identify top performing leaders and their best practices,” he writes. “This information can then be used to devise training programs around the leadership skills that have proven to be most effective and match lower-performing managers with peer coaches.”


Culture and engagement


“In 2017, organizations should carefully define their organizational culture – the reward systems and implicit behavior that happens when nobody is looking,” Milne writes. “They should also measure it, and find where and how it may be misaligned.”


As you test new processes and programs, use data to evaluate their success, Maier writes. For example, try sending out regular employee surveys. “The results allow your HR team to instantly gauge the general feeling in the office,” he writes. “A revealing Gallup study reported that companies that score in the top half of employee engagement have double the odds of success of those in the bottom half.”


And, by consistently tracking data, you can spot changes over time.


Talent management


Recognizing your company’s best workers can mean great things for your bottom line. The same goes for understanding which employees need improvement.


Because of the power of data analytics, “a new generation of performance management tools will emerge,” Milne writes, describing “a shift from a very top-down, process-driven approach to employee performance management – to a more agile, continuous, feedback-based approach.”