By Elliot Clark
Pre-employment and background screening is the subject of this month’s HRO Today Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Survey Ratings. We congratulate Aurico on leading the market in the overall category. As we worked to complete this increasingly more important benchmark survey—we get many calls asking for interpretation support as a prelude to an RFI/RFP process—I pondered why this very mature aspect of HR technology and services continues to be a stalwart of the employment process. Background checking is not only a security protocol—looking back at the past can give organizations a glimpse of how that prospective employee will behave in the future.
Many behavioral assessment models also tout the predictive value of their appraisal system on future performance, and many of them are very good. Even the long and complex interviewing of executive search consultants are designed to ferret out strengths and weaknesses prior to a referral. In the employment aspect of HR, recruitment programming, like screening, have grasped a fundamental essential. It is not only important to know what just happened, it is equally important to know what happens next.
We are all drowning in numbers. We live in a world of dashboards designed to focus or roll up the critical numbers. We try to analyze which numbers are the key drivers to track for the business and we debate endlessly the value of the various metrics. However, the vast majority of these numbers tell you what just happened. The HR service and technology provider community needs to move on and tell us what is about to happen. There are many products that now use the term “predictive analytics” and they have to deliver on that promise. If you think about the role of any senior executive it is to do things, manage what is happening now, and predict future performance. Be a CEO or CFO who misses earnings a few quarters, you don’t need a piece of predictive software to tell you that there is a long walk down a dark hallway to your termination in the near future.
Predictive analytics are the Holy Grail of business software. This is going to become an increasing issue in the future of HR. One of the real pain points in many companies is workforce planning. If it was a pristine process, why are there so many bulge hiring efforts (other than seasonal cyclicality) or hiring freezes? This is an area where, frankly, the operating departments need to be led—yes led—by HR. There are some good products out there for workforce planning and some of the big suites do it, but many of these are just roll ups of the numbers you input. Why are there solutions that take your financial projections for sales and use historical data to construct a model based on the operating platform
of the business? I have not seen one that is yet good at that. (If someone thinks they have this, I would welcome the demo.)
I recently had a demo of Joberate, a company led by a former HRO Today columnist, Mike Beygelman, and the winner of the 2014 iTalent Competition. The software uses publicly available social media data to predict when employees (if you are the employer) or candidates (if you are not the employer) will begin to actively seek jobs. It does this months before someone takes the step of going active by analyzing social media behavior. While there is a creepy surveillance aspect to this, it is essentially no different than Adwords by Google, which tracks buying behavior. Joberate is one
of the first and most innovative approaches to predictive analytics because it can pinpoint who is the company is dissatisfied, and drills down by manager and department in real time.
The overwhelming response of the market to Joberate also shows how important prediction is to HR and how hungry HR is for these solutions. So, I predict that predictive analytics will be at the forefront of the features of the best new HR products. I just don’t know who many of them are yet. Sorry.