Big Data and Human Resources—Letting the Computer Decide?

Employees are a company’s greatest asset, but if the company gets hiring decisions wrong, employees could also be the company’s greatest expense. Accordingly, recruiting the right people and retaining and promoting the best, while identifying and addressing under-achievers, is critical. Many organizations spend a lot of time and effort on human resources issues but do not have sufficiently detailed data to help them fully understand their employees and the challenges that can affect workforce planning, development and productivity.

Big data analytics can help to address these challenges, which explains why more and more HR departments are turning to them for a variety of purposes, for example, to: (i) identify potential recruits; (ii) measure costs per hire and return on investment; (iii) measure employee productivity; (iv) measure the impact of HR programs on performance; (v) identify (and predict) attrition rates and new hire failure rates; and (vi) identify potential leaders. Supporters also argue that big data analytics can help to provide evidence to de-bunk commonly held assumptions about employees that are wrong and based on biases.

Originally published in Bloomberg BNA Privacy Law Watch on March 24, 2015.

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