Big Data and HR: A love story

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Dawn Altnam is a regular contributor to The HRIS World.

The human resources department is a busy and productive place in almost all offices.

While, to outsiders, it often feels like the only thing that human resources does is hire new employees, the department actually handles many important tasks that improve things for the office as a whole.

Because of this, HR managers are always looking for new ways to improve the flow of information in and out of the department.

Find out how managers are using the concept of “big data” to learn more about the employees who work for them and streamline the entire human resources process…


When your company starts looking for new employees, the human resources department goes into overdrive.

Whether the recruiting process involves visiting career fairs, accepting open applications or actively headhunting, there are many tasks on which the HR staff is constantly working.

However, by utilizing “big data,” the recruiting process is often simplified.

The main way big data is used in recruiting is using the concept of predictive analysis.

Essentially, in recent years, HR managers have collected information about all their employees, which is now a data miner’s dream.

Analyzing the data on the best employees allows those working in HR to determine what type of person would make the best candidate for any open positions in the company.

That makes recruiting a breeze. Quite often companies already have this information available, it’s just a matter of locating, combining, and analyzing it.


Just as important, if not more so, is the idea of retaining employees who are already with the company and doing a good job.

Big data also makes a big difference with this task. When big data is used in this way, there’s often the misconception that the company is spying on their employees.

However, this is often far from the truth. The HR departments simply collect basic

information about the employees, their satisfaction levels, training information and other details.

This information can be used to help determine ways to improve and retain the staff already in place for corporations of all sizes. Lowes, ARAMARK, UPS, and other large corporations are already using this data to improve the staff in place as well as in the hiring process.

Best Practices

Big data does not create itself, nor can companies properly utilize it without following a few basic best practices.

These include:

  • Aligning data with specific goals – This means that HR execs need to remember that it’s not just about collecting as much data as possible, but instead, collecting the right data
  • Optimize data sharing – Often, the information is already in place in many big companies—the human resources staff just needs to learn the easiest way to find and utilize it

  • Plan ahead – The HR staff needs to work with management to determine the needs into the future, not just for today; these long-term plans are where big data shines
  • Protect data – Backing up data regularly is important so it doesn’t become lost in the shuffle.
    Additionally, this information should be protected since HR comes into contact with so much personal information.
    A great way to accomplish both is by looking into backup software.


As you can see, there’s a lot going on in human resources today that’s vastly different than it was even five years ago.
If your company hasn’t already begun utilizing the concept of big data, start today.
Otherwise, you’ll find that you lag further and further behind when it comes to attracting and retaining the best possible staff.

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Dawn Altnam

Dawn Altnam is a regular contributor to The HRIS World, be sure to see her other articles listed just below.

Dawn lives & works in the midwest and loves following the business tech world.

After furthering her education, she now spends her time researching her interests and blogging her discoveries quite often.

You can reach Dawn via email, social media or by leaving a comment below...

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