big data in hr

4 Ways Big Data is Influencing the HR Industry

Every day, our world becomes more data focused. Changes in technology – 5G internet, smartphones, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, etc. – have meant that more data is captured at more points in our lives. And the amount of data captured is expanding rapidly worldwide.

This proliferation of data is especially pronounced in business, as companies now use data to inform decisions at all levels and departments. We can quantify and automate many processes that we couldn’t just a few years ago, leading to better strategy and decision-making for companies that know how to take advantage of this mountain of information.

The amount of data is tremendous, but how does it affect those of us in human resources? Simply: Every team and process under the HR umbrella can be improved via data. Big data has a significant influence on HR departments because it supports streamlined solutions and increases positive output. 

You’ve likely seen data built into your strategy or day-to-day operations already, but here are some areas where data can make the biggest difference for HR departments and their companies overall.

The Recruitment Process

Hiring new employees is a crucial part of a company's road to success. Hiring takes time. Depending on the position, employees can take months to bring back value for the business. And, a bad hire can cost a company thousands of dollars.

Big data can help companies overcome this risk.

With a tool like an applicant tracking system, companies can evaluate large pools of candidates instantly for fit, all while eliminating human bias. HR departments can evaluate their own hiring trends against those of their industry or location. They can also evaluate salary bands compared to the market, and then evaluate ROI of a hire over time.

This process saves time and helps to select the best candidates for the company and role.

employees observing data

Employee Onboarding and Training

Hiring employees is one thing; getting them up and running is another, entirely. HR departments are tasked with onboarding and training employees to the standards and policies of the company and department.

Prior to the implementation of big data, analysis of these practices was slow and incomplete, if it was done at all. Now, with the widespread use of onboarding software, HR employees can see the status of a new employee’s onboarding in real time. At the macro level, this data allows a department to see the strengths and weaknesses of a training program, and to take action that data in real time.

Employee training and onboarding costs nearly $1,208 per employee, according to a 2014 report from the Association for Talent Development. Big data acts as a great problem solver during the training process and has the ability to truly bring down these costs and get employees productive more quickly.


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Employee Retention

Once an employee is not just productive but thriving in a company, the last thing the employer wants is to lose that worker. Addressing turnover is time-consuming and expensive, but keeping employees with the company is easier said than done.

Employees leave companies for seemingly limitless reasons; some are in the business’ control, others are not. Any company should do what they can to reduce turnover and give employees reasons to stay.

Big data comes into the retention realm in many areas – pulse surveys can unearth issues company-wide or at the department/team level. Information from your core HR tool can glean insights into what positions have the highest turnover or what employees of a specific demographic care about most. Reporting on performance reviews can shed light on where more ongoing training is needed. These are just a handful of the ways data can be intertwined with strategy.

The information derived from big data is used to overcome workspace difficulties and empower employees, improving the overall contribution to the company and increasing work quality. Big data is an actual example of smart work that various international companies adopt to increase work efficiency. 


Big data influences the HR department in several ways that can save extensive efforts, time, and money for the company if studied and used appropriately. It helps the company with recruitment, adequate training of employees, and increased retention rate.


About the Guest Author

Rebeka Misheva is a content writer at Shortlister, a platform that connects employers to wellness, benefits, and HR technology providers. Rebeka uses her experience in HR and recruiting to help educate readers on trends and insights in the space.

By Rebeka Misheva, Guest Author | March 09, 2021