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HR departments invaded by data scientists

Stephanie Overby | Aug. 28, 2013
As leading HR departments turn to 'talent analytics' for a wide range of staffing issues, CIOs are at the center of this data-driven transformation

Arena thinks that analyzing the interactions of networks of employees holds the most promise. The process starts with a survey. "We ask questions of a given network: Who do you go to when you want to shop a new idea? Where do you turn when you need resources to get things done? Then we run the analytics," Arena explains. "We can tell you who the brokers are, who's central in that network, who are the bridges across silos. We can even predict who's a flight risk based on where they sit in the network." And by identifying which employee networks are most productive, Arena says there's a chance to improve performance across the company.

At Coca-Cola Enterprises, Crumley is integrating business data with HR data for predictive purposes. "That's where you can really get sexy with it," he says. While working with IT to clean and standardize all the data, Crumley is partnering with each corporate function to find out what business metric might be the key measure of success for their employees. By combining those business metrics with people data, he hopes to be able to "reverse engineer what a successful employee is, so we can get the best candidates in the future."

Employee engagement is a leading indicator of talent retention at Coca-Cola Enterprises. And one of the biggest boosters of employee engagement numbers is access to on-the-job learning, so Crumley's team is trying to figure out how to make training opportunities more universal. For example, why are folks in this shift at this plant not taking classes as much as other employees in that line of business? With answers to questions like that, HR can intervene to address the core reason, whether that's an accessibility problem or a manager who needs more coaching. Crumley says the effort will gain even more steam when HR is able to show, through data analytics, a correlation between taking a specific training course and an improvement in sales or productivity.

At call-center provider NOVO 1, CTO Mitchell Swindell has implemented a predictive hiring tool from Evolv. Applicants complete a Web-based application that screens for attitude, propensity for customer service, and voice capabilities. The software also shows the candidate what it's like to work in a call center in hopes of screening out those who would be a poor fit in the high-turnover industry. The tool then gives the candidate a red, yellow or green rating, at which point candidates rated green or yellow are invited for in-person interviews. The hiring decision is still in the hands of a human, but the system has predicted with 80 percent accuracy the company's top performers, based on 90-day follow-up data on the hired employees. Since introducing the algorithm-enhanced hiring system, tenure is up by 25 percent, agent productivity has increased 30 percent, and the overall staffing budget has decreased 11 percent. Swindell has integrated Evolve with the company's payroll, workforce-management and proprietary quality systems to help develop a more nuanced profile of the best employees.


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