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Human Resources Tentatively Tries Predictive Analytics

Knowing the probability of important employee events before they happen can have a big bottom-line impact.

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Michael S. Langston
Michael S. Langston,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/6/2013 | 9:30:38 PM
Re: Predictions On Individuals
I don't think the prediction software would watch that exactly - I think you could say, in a call center, measure changes in productivity over time and likely find common behaviors for those people who leave soon.  In sales, same thing - number of phone calls, number of sick days, etc, etc....

Of course, just like scoring high on an IQ test doesn't mean you'll necessarily be successful at IQ related tasks, just because a given person is exhibiting the same or similar behavior doesn't mean their end goal is the same.

Additionally - I don't see why the automate assumption is employers will use this data to fire people early - a more likely and useful utilization of this informatiom would be for a company to seek out those who appear to be on their way out and try to retain them if possible. 

Training and hiriing are costs after all, and not insignificant for even low level corporate jobs - aslo the knowledge lost from longer term employees can be enormous. 

Add to this if your company is of fair size, so your sales team are professionals and well paid, there is almost zero chance one of them will be stupid enough to bad mouth their current employer on social media while searching for a new job.

Move forward ten, twenty years with the prevelance of HR and others using social media will make using it worthless (much like evaluating job candidates only by a resume today would be worthless).

They will in effect be trained by the market place of hiring to limit what they say on all kinds of levels on all social media.

Just as successful professionals today are well trained on interviews and resumes.
Michael S. Langston
Michael S. Langston,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/6/2013 | 9:17:40 PM
Re: Predictions On Individuals
Interesting article - but I think the analogy comparing this to Minority report is incorrect.


Leaving aside for stake of this point whether or not such predictions are useful or ethical, I don't see HR departements using this data to pre-emptively fire people they believe are likely to leave soon.  

IE - the actions a given company might use in response to this data are highly unlikely to directly any individual employee based solely upon that data.  & this is likely true regardless of whether the individual were ranked as likely or not likely to leave soon.

Conversely I think arresting someone becuase in the future they are likely to kill or main or steal or whatever - has very different implications.

Additionally I think the same goes for putting the NSA info in here - though I do agree that it's tangentially relevant as it has increased privacy concerns and those feelings are likely to spill over to employers and such - but it still seems to conflate warrantless stealing of data we all thought was private with the monitoring and tracking of employees while on the job - something which has always been well within the purview of any employer.

But I digress - my point is that you put that together - and it seems to paint a much more negative picture than is likely to exist in a future reality where HR departments routinely use this software.

User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2013 | 10:43:48 AM
This The Atlantic Story Picks Up the Intersection of HR and Analytics
Ellis Booker
Ellis Booker,
User Rank: Moderator
11/21/2013 | 10:51:45 AM
Re: Predictions On Individuals
Playing devil's advocate here, but clearly individual predictions have value too--if you get them right. Take the Amazon recommendation engine, for example. That said, both sources in this story agreed that the tactic is best used--given the state of the science and the available inputs--against large groups of workers, like those in a call center. 
User Rank: Apprentice
11/21/2013 | 10:47:14 AM
Good for large populations
Analytics is a numbers game; the more input, the better output. So HR analytics seem best used with large, global populations, as you'd find in call center firms. Getting information about the seasonality and flow of employee activity should help companies plan a bit better. I agree with Rob P., though, that divining management activity isn't a good use of the resource.
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 9:49:26 AM
Predictions On Individuals
Companies shouldn't waste their time trying to predict individual employee HR events using analytics. If the VP of sales is about to quit and you divine that fact by looking at his social media posts, you probably didn't need analytics software to draw the conclusion. Same if you're analyzing his/her company email to draw that conclusion.


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