It’s somewhat old news that “big data” is transforming the business landscape. But recently, the practice of mass data collection and analysis has taken a form known as people analytics. By jumping into this hot new field, human resources professionals hope to bring objectivity to the complex processes of recruiting, hiring and promoting.
What is people analytics?
People analytics is a discipline that assesses prospective candidates, along with current employees, using tools like digital tests, database queries and measurable performance metrics, notes The Washington Post.
As human resources pros know, bad hires can be exceptionally costly. The average length of the interview process jumped from 12 days in 2009 to 23 days just four years later, and companies are growing increasingly cautious, as The New York Times reports. Combined with constant striving to cut costs, the arduousness of the interview process has many companies turning to analytics software to pinpoint promising candidates.
How it’s being used
People analytics may be hot right now, but it turns out that the concept isn’t new. As Bloomberg notes, hiring professionals have always used data to assess candidates — but in the past, that data came from direct observation. Today, human resources managers increasingly are making use of people analytics to replace some of the less-reliable methods of hiring like use of personal networks and sheer intuition.
What are the downsides?
Critics of the new methods say that some good — or even exceptional — candidates may be turned off by use of what they perceive as an impersonal hiring process. Interviews can feel too mechanical, and some jobs require traits that are hard to measure, like people skills.
Using computerized tests to assess candidates also has the potential to rule out entire classes of workers. While millennials might be fine with a hiring process that feels like playing a video game, older workers might not feel as comfortable.
People analytics: Part of a comprehensive hiring strategy
Data-driven recruiting is helping boost the role of human resources departments and professionals in overall corporate strategy — avoiding bad hires is paramount in today’s business climate. People analytics serves as one available tool to bring further efficiency and accuracy to the hiring process.