“Relevant experience does not lead to increased productivity”
“Management quality influences attrition & productivity more than employee background’
“Educational attainment is not as critical”
“Long period of unemployment does not make you a worse worker”- From Your boss wants to be Nate Silver
I’m sure most of you have believed at least one of the above but according to recent research ALL of them might be false. People Analytics or applying Big Data to Talent Management may be fundamentally changing how employees are selected and managed. It is allowing companies to use predictive analysis on not just personality tests but biometrics and personal data that we all leave everywhere.
Clearly, the ability to identify the real drivers of employee success and using those to select the right employees is a very powerful tool. If having been to college or which college is not critical, the potential candidate pool looks dramatically different (If true, it also changes the value of an education but that’s for another day.) That in and of itself could cause a major disruption in the job market. If having relevant experience is not critical, then career management takes on a whole new dimension? By the way, similar techniques are also being planned for assembling the “right” teams of people.
Utilizing video games as part of the selection process allows for the collection of biometric data. Not only can your play predict your behavior at work but the biometric data collected predicts your responses in certain situations. Your next interview may involve a head mounted video camera, an optical pulse recorder and measuring electrodermal activity. This is no longer science fiction; it is available to early adopters today.
The data trails that we leave everyday are also being collected and analyzed for predictive patterns. The number of sick days, attendance issues, what you buy and where you spend your online time – all of these combined offer vast amounts of predictive power. That predictive power is already being extensively used for marketing and politics and now employment. Companies are combing the cloud for all the data we leave behind and offering it to employers as a screening device.
A lot of this sounds scary – we have all seen science fiction movies where “machines” are sorting out humans and predicting human behavior (Minority Report). The “identification” of people into certain “categories”, though based on some tests and algorithms, eerily sounds like a caste system. The notion that everything that you have ever done (whether online or off) and how you interact with a video game or perform on some personality test will actually determine your (and everyone else’s) station in life is daunting. You can just imagine the Jonah Hill character in Moneyball sitting over a computer and deciding what you are good for. “What happens to our lives when the machines know us better than we know ourselves”?
This is clearly a debate that we will all need to engage in. This clearly has the potential to fundamentally disrupt how we select and manage employees-and how we as individuals prepare for employment. The potential predictive power sounds very exciting and inviting. The ability to identify the perfect employee is clearly better than depending on instinct. It looks like Big Data has crept into and may fundamentally change Competency Based Talent Management. Yet, it comes with all kinds of risks and concerns that must also be dealt with. These two statements probably sum it up well:
“This video game (interview) never ends. This job interview is permanent.” – referring to the data we leave behind.