The big data wave has spread out across many companies, moving from a few specific and limited applications into new and diverse areas. The expansion of big data into the human resources field is one of the best examples of this business trend, as a department focused on employee engagement, health, performance and other hard-to-define metrics is starting to embrace this resource.
A flawed system with a potential solution
The imperfect nature of rating others on attributes that are less than completely quantifiable, like the potential for growth as opposed to sales or output figures, isn’t a new problem for HR staff. As The Harvard Business Review pointed out, people naturally include their own biases and make self-referential judgments when rating others. This subjective perspective damages the credibility and usefulness of soft ranking methods. Moreover, it seems to be an intractable issue. The HBR noted such issues persist despite training and education.
Success in measuring a variety of critical HR metrics, despite the issues with concretely defining them, means the use of new approaches and systems to better understand both employee sentiment and performance. The use of data, whether big or small, structured or unstructured, to determine various metrics related to performance and potential is one approach that is likely more effective than subjective ranking methods. In terms of employee sentiment and engagement, as well as recruiting, compliance and some other important HR fields, social media data is especially valuable.
Another aspect of data-heavy HR operations
HR teams are also using social media as a tool and resource for various facets of recruiting and talent pipeline development. Forbes said at the beginning of 2014 that social recruiting would start to come into its own that year, then continue to expand and develop. Using the most popular consumer channels to communicate with candidates is a simple and straightforward approach that has paid off for many companies.
Using social media data to its fullest potential
With so many potential applications for big data in general and social media data in particular in the HR field, company and department leaders have to consider how to best approach and use that information. Social media monitoring software, used alongside capture and archiving tools, creates a searchable database that can provide a deep level of insight into the minds of employees. With access to sentiment and engagement data employees share in a genuine manner – and not influenced by a need to assess others – it’s easier for HR teams to move past general action and more accurately make adjustments that reflect the unique circumstances inside of individual businesses.
This unstructured data already exists. It’s not an issue of finding it, but of corralling it, indexing it and giving it structure so it’s searchable on a granular level and relevant information is easily extractable. Many HR departments are embracing big data and social media already. The analysis of employee social media data is just another extension of this growing trend.