Can you smell that? It’s your HR data rotting. Discover the 5th V of Talent’s Big Data.

Curving the 4 V’s of Big Data in HR: The People & Culture Perspective

Can you smell that? It’s your HR data rotting.

Every day we wait is a day that the value of fresh data spoils. The breakthrough in talent analytics today is transformative. If you are not mining predictive insights by now, your HR job is at risk.

After 18 years of managing the famed 4Vs of Big Data, we discovered the most important V is not one of them. While analytics exist in companies of all sizes, it still eludes many how to apply data insights for strategic Talent Management. The wealth of information hidden beneath the surface yearns to be discovered.

So where and how do you look for potentially actionable intelligence? More importantly, why does it matter to you?

To begin, let’s curve the 4 Vs of big data through the lens of an HR leader. All of the 4 aspects of big data exist in the employee information you might ALREADY possess, Dorothy click your heels! The key to leveraging the 4Vs for People & Culture is to envision what successful data mining looks like when we attract, develop, engage, and retain your lollipop guild.


Big V #1 = Volume: The SCALE of data

The goal of having a substantial volume of HR data is to capture a complete view of the employee experience. It means gathering information about the past and the present, in order to predict the future.

This is nearly impossible with paper forms, Excel, or generic survey software. If you are stuck in Excel to create reports, put the mouse downs slowly, step away from the monitor, and find a licensed clinician to examine your head. Struggling to through hard copies, manual data entry, and collection delays data and undermines your impact. Excel is good what it does, but there is nothing “I’m the future of talent management” about staring at a spreadsheet built in 1987. Some of you reading this were not built in 1987. Walk into a leadership meeting with “Look what we discovered with cutting-edge late 80’s technology,” and welcome to your last leadership meeting.

New Talent Management prediction platforms warehouse current and legacy workforce data. To get considerable Volume, unpack each demographic group of interest by answering a question like “What is turnover rate of millennial employees in Marketing?” and “What is the impact since we rolled out this new training program in London?” With that, we are closer to predicting potential Millennial performance accelerators in London.

Big HR data includes the full cycle of employee experience — from the moment a candidate sees the job post, until after he/she leaves the company. Talent leaders can unveil all the strengths and gaps in each Talent Management strategy if we consider what is happening in the different stages of an employee’s life-cycle.

This volume of data can never be captured manually, no matter how high the HR-to-Employee Ratio is. From New Hire Surveys and Stay Interviews to Exit Interviews, Artificial Intelligence survey systems automatically schedule every possible touch point and capture real-time data from each employee. More than how many millennials resign, smart systems (like TalentPulse) tell us why these employees think about leaving – even before you invite them to the awesomesauce training program you just rolled out.


Big V #2 = Variety: The different FORMS of data

Knowing the rate of turnover without understanding why, is like watching a 3D movie without the glasses – you know something is happening, but you can’t see it. The next step is to understand why. To do so requires capturing both structured and unstructured HR data. Collecting various types of HR data creates a comprehensive view of the employee life-cycle.

Structured HR data or quantitative data (think title, gender, salary, performance, and location) gives you a summary of the past and current conditions of a workforce. The information is usually organized to give a strong visual representation. For instance, although we always say people leave because of their managers, our research indicates that separated millennials actually feel significantly more positive about their supervisor/manager than previous generations.

Unstructured HR data, or qualitative data (think open-ended questions like “Why did you join?”, “How did you find us?”) is the summer peach of sentiment analysis, sweet, juicy and a sticky mess that attracts flies if you leave it out too long. Qualitative data ranges from interviews and conversations with managers/coaches, social media posts from employees, employee experience with the company, etc. The very reason the millennials are unhappy might very well be the office does not have the right support from managers, or snacks in the kitchen.

In 18 years of doing this, we know this: predictive accuracy occurs ONLY when BOTH structured and unstructured data types are used. BEWARE of any HRIS/vendor/consultant claiming predictability without qualitative input. They are claiming correlation = causation, which is fake news. To make real sense of the numbers, the trends, the time, and the behaviors, data Variety increases accuracy.


Big V #3 = Velocity: the SPEED of generating, capturing, and transferring data

When was the last time you sent out an employee survey? Last Year? Two Years ago? The Reagan years?

Today, every aspect of a company strives to be agile. So should HR. The annual survey is dead. At any point in time you will value the most current state of your workforce. The definition of current should not be based upon anything collected 2 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy ago (McDreamy what, no!).

With modern technology, you are screwed if you wait a year for feedback. How about pulsing new hire opinion? Or even better – give Talent Acquisition managers a report with the weekly candidate experience. With pulse survey systems that can schedule automatic deployment based on calendar cycle or anniversary, data collection occurs precisely when you need it. There is a place for generic survey software zoo animals, but seriously, is it helping you translate data into action? Are you impressing leadership by not being able to get them an answer for 3 days?

This is not a class project, it is a sophisticated ever-changing diverse workforce. Do you think IT says “We are going to use Word to manage our security”?

Does Finance say “These pocket calculators are fine to forecast store sales?

And yet, HR’s answer is “I found a slow and cheap tool that doesn’t quite do what we need!” Only HR is trying to underspend a company into greatness. Launching a continuous feedback loop that accelerates growth takes more than survey software.

Executive leadership wants to know that the people on the People & Culture team know their people. That means getting comments about the new orientation before the next orientation begins. And rolling the changes in to accelerate new hire productivity.

The closer to the event that we have feedback on that event, the sooner we can make it better. Tortoises are cute, but the faster and more nimble organization wins, every time.


Big V #4 = Validity: the RELIABILITY or trustworthiness of data

Ideally, you want every single piece of information about your employees like what they ate for lunch last Wednesday, right? Probably the Caesar salad from the corner place, dressing on the side.

Not necessarily. The availability of data today tends to drive us to the other extreme – redundant and unreliable information. The data collected is only meaningful if we can trust it. 

A modern and transparent feedback platform provides 100% confidence. Best practices that are built into the system include: population randomization, survey question spinning and rotation, and raw data reporting. Modern HR data systems like TalentPulse also involves internal validity test and industry benchmarks.


The Secret 5th V

As important as those 4 V’s are, after years of managing billions of titles, departments, locations, races, ages, genders, 360s, survey responses, upwards evaluations, and exit interviews, none are as important to your next big data conversation as this one:


Every aspect of data serves to create business value for the organization. So how can you leverage existing HR data to add VALUE to your talent strategy today? The process of uncovering Value from data always starts with the same thing:

One question

We do not need to know all the answers yet, I promise.

All we need to start is the question.

So find one, for which the answer provides real true business value. Here are 5 examples, call us for 212 more:

  1. How many units fail quality control for each employee who quit the production line?
  2. What is the most effective training program to increase customer satisfaction scores?
  3. How do I decide whether to hire internally or externally for this new manager position?
  4. Why are new hires leaving within 3 months even with increased salary?
  5. I have 200 people leaving globally every month, who are the most expensive losses?

After 18 years, the 4Vs of data are still the foundation of your Talent Management strategy. But  data analysis, visualization, and storytelling are the keys to turning data into VALUE.


The Hidden Value when Combined

The 5th V – Value, is the secret of how to tap into the fullest potential of your workforce. Combining an immense Volume of data will provide a comprehensive view of your employees’ past, present and future possibilities. The wide Variety of data available allows us to dive deep into every aspect of your talent pool. The incredible Velocity of data means we really can make real-world decisions with real-time impact. And the Validity of data provides confidence in your data-driven decision.

Don’t let your data sit and rot. Mine the truffles for your organization today.

Are you creating value with your HR data? If not, call us now. And ask us how.

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