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Companies Making HR Big Data Work

Some early adopters have integrated big data into human resources practices with noteworthy results.

March 22, 2013
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Some early adopters have integrated big data into human resources practices with noteworthy results. Here are a few examples:

It's no surprise the information giant relies on data to run human resources, too. The $50 billion company uses what it calls "people analytics" to make decisions about a variety of HR issues. In the Project Oxygen mission to build better managers, begun in 2009, Google's people analytics team analyzed data on performance reviews, feedback surveys and nominations for manager awards to come up with eight criteria for effective managers that were ranked in importance and then integrated into training, coaching and performance reviews. The changes resulted in a statistically significant improvement in manager quality for 75 percent of its worst-performing bosses, according to a 2011 New York Times report .

The HR technology company doesn't just sell big data software, it uses it. In February 2012, three months after paying $3.4 billion to acquire SuccessFactors Inc., SAP began using the cloud HR software-maker's workforce analytics tools. By April, SAP's HR team was collecting data on 150 standard metrics, and had built reports showing head count, hires, terms, gender diversity and head-count movements, says Helen Poitevin, a global HR reporting manager at SAP, who writes about SAP's big-data strategies in a February blog post. In the next two years, SAP plans to use the tools to do more sophisticated analysis to support company goals, such as analyzing recruiting metrics against learning and development programs to calculate how quickly new hires can get up to speed.

The $22.4 billion printer and outsourcing company changed the criteria it uses to hire call-center employees after running a six-month pilot with Evolv on Demand , a San Francisco-based vendor that uses big data and predictive analytics to help companies transform their workforces. Evolv's benchmarks for ideal call-center workers show they live close by, have a reliable way to get to work, and are creative but don't ask too many questions. In the pilot, Xerox revamped its call-center candidate screen test to take those attributes into account and saw attrition drop by 20 percent, according to a September 2012 Wall Street Journal story. Since then, the company has started using the screenings for all of its 48,700 call-center jobs, according to the Journal.

Michelle V. Rafter is a contributing editor. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com. Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

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