Estimates suggest paying staff can constitute anything up to 60% of a firm’s revenue, yet when we hire members of our senior team, rarely does the process become technical or subjected to scientific rigour. More often than not, gut-feeling can be the determining factor. Well, all that could be about to change.
Welcome to the world of People Analytics – where firms apply theories associated with the collection and analysis of Big Data to their workforces.
People Analytics is the move to help firms understand their employees better; to know what drives them, what causes demotivation, and to examine how that could change the criteria on which hiring choices are made.
We looked at some examples of People Analytics in action – and went into some of its general principals – in an earlier blog post. Today, we’re going to highlight some new tools and organisations that are helping businesses gather and examine data about employees and candidates:
Cornerstone (formerly known as Evolv) is a software company that’s growing in prominence in the US. Firms like Xerox and Bank of America use its technology to gather data on everything from how long employees take to travel to work, to how long they stay in their jobs, and how often they speak to their managers.
The Smart Data Collective blog claims that Evolv crunches half-a-billion data points on everything from gas prices to employment rates and social media use. These data points are mainly used by client businesses to improve the effectiveness of staff and make them happier in their jobs, thus helping employee retention rates and improving the prospects for new starters. Many of the measures led to simple, yet effective, changes: at Bank of America, analysis of staff voices while on calls highlighted stress and performance issues. As a result, the company improved performance and decreased stress levels simply by letting more staff take breaks at the same time.
Its methods, however, aren’t without some controversy. For example, one data collection method includes use of ‘badges’ to monitor employee movement and interactions.
Australian software startup Culture Amp works with firms such as Adobe, Etsy, and Airbnb who use its employee retention and review technology to regularly survey staff and keep sentiment data that can be compared against productivity.
Peer-to-peer e-commerce website Etsy uses Culture Amp to survey its employees, to keep them happy and to show them the business is responsive. As the firm’s survey results are public within the company, the surveys are used as a way to demonstrate to staff that transparency and accountability aren’t just internal buzzwords, that the business is constantly seeking to improve its own culture for the benefit of its employees and to improve the quality of its work.
This use of the Culture Amp technology isn’t directly related to the firm’s recruitment processes, but shows to prospective employees how seriously it takes the values and opinions of its staff.
In addition, Culture Amp supplies a suite of short, easy to complete ‘onboarding’ and exit surveys to help clients gather further qualitative information that can be fed back into the recruitment process.
VoloMetrix seeks to connect employee behaviour to business outcomes. Its software is used by firms such as Facebook, Boeing, and L’Oreal to deliver actionable metrics on how time is really used by employees, to produce reports on staff activity, and to produce behavioural profiles. It also supplies change management tools.
Volo claims to offer its clients understanding of the real costs and ROI of sales calls, customer service operations, and a multiplicity of staff meetings. While this tool focuses less directly on analytical information for recruitment and retention purposes, it combines analysis of how employee’s behaviour drives inefficiencies that could have long-term impacts. It also helps firms understand the kind of behaviours it might seek to encourage.
It will be no great surprise to hear how it’s the technology sector in the US that’s leading the way when it comes to adopting new and compelling approaches to executive recruitment. A less high-tech approach, however, is also being applied.
Many firms now regularly use Klout as a simple way to rate the social network influence of prospective employees and to feed that back into the hiring process.
If you want your new employee to be a cheerleader for your brand, to draw in an engaged audience, or to help foster a digital-first culture internally, the low tech solution might be to gauge their ‘Klout’.
The handful of firms highlighted here represent just some of those offering imaginative ways to improve the recruitment process, but an assumption that the challenge of hiring the right people can be overcome with technology alone could be misplaced.
Technology allows hiring firms, and their executive search teams, to work more smartly; but while technology can help inform decision-making, ultimately, it’s a recruitment expert that’s needed to help make those final, tough decisions on candidates. Then someone also needs to sell that opportunity, gain an interest, and then maintain that interest as they guide the candidate through the hiring process. I’m not sure a piece of technology is quite ready for that just yet.