Is Big Data Sucking Out the Human in Us? #BigDataHR

This week on Blogging4Jobs we are focusing on the theme Big Data sponsored by Jibe. Jibe provides cloud-based recruiting technology solutions that enable talent acquisition teams to strategically identify, attract and engage candidates. Join us April 10th 2014 at 3pm to talk Big Data on Twitter using the hashtag #BigDataHR and join our webinar, “What’s the Big Deal with Big Data in HR & Recruiting” on April 17th at 11a EST. Follow the week by bookmarking us!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
― André Gide

Is Big Data Sucking Out the Human in Us? #BigDataHR


In today’s corporate environment, HR can monitor our actions on a number of devices. Our messages, texts, IM’s, web browsing, phone calls all reflect our behavior. Employees know this and either have or are becoming overly conscious about their actions. There is a fear of being perceived a certain way, therefore the less risky our behavior is the more narrowly we do our job, saving our creativity for home. Something has to give or organizations are going to be missing the innovation and creativity that comes with a little freedom in the workplace.

It’s simple really. The fear of tracking daily habits in the workplace makes many afraid to go with their gut. Afraid to think, research, explore and take chances. In short, afraid to be human. Risk adverse decision-making is one thing, risk adverse creativity is another. With all of its value in putting analytics and science behind traditional instinctive/emotional HR practices, Big Data is also stifling creative outlets through fear. I’m by no means saying there isn’t a place for Big Data in HR. I’m just questioning some of the data that is being tracked.

Imagine a world without computers, telephones, televisions or my favorite microwaves. All of these inventions have made our lives easier, pushed the envelope. But even more importantly, all of these inventions were developed and designed by humans. Humans that were given freedom to explore, take chances, and create. I ask you, would Bill Gates or Steve Jobs have had the success in their lives if HR was monitoring their every action?. I dare say not.

With all of this being said, I’m still one of the biggest fans of Big Data in HR — when the data has merit.

Data of any kind, big or small, can take HR and Business to a new level. I’ve seen first hand where HR executives finally got that spot at the “big kids table” by analyzing and changing their talent acquisition strategy, saving their company millions of dollars by choosing vendors and talent that make sense. However, I have also seen many lose their job without warning because of poor decisions based on so called “people analytics.”  HR just like any other function in a business needs to take a step back before jumping in headfirst measuring everything and figure out what really needs to be measured and why? If you can’t answer the why then its simply a waste of effort and time. Analyze your own actions before you analyze others.

What are your thoughts on “people analytics” — Have we gone too far? Connect with me on LinkedIn to continue the conversation.

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Bridget Webb

Bridget Webb is a Recruitment and Marketing enthusiast, leader, advisor and speaker. Her specialties include Demand Generation (customers & talent), People Analytics, Employer Branding, HR Technology and homeroom mom duties. With over a decade in the talent acquisition space both as a practitioner and marketing/business development executive Bridget has built a reputation as a trusted thought leader whose creative problem solving and relentless character have grown brands, bottom-lines and talent pipelines. Connect with Bridget.

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