Bigger Isn't Always Better

By Rick Buer, Chief Executive Officer, GC Incentives, a division of GiftCertificates.com

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You've likely heard the buzz that big data is making in the industry. Also called "people analytics" or "predictive analysis," the idea of big data has exploded in recent years.

What is it, exactly? In a nutshell, the Gartner Group defines big data as "high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making."

In the digital age, companies are creating truckloads of all kinds of data every day, every hour, every minute. Now, there's a growing call to HR departments to start putting their data to work as part of a rewards-and-recognition program.

Proponents say the information can shed light on why some employees succeed more than others, discover what motivates members of a company's workforce, predict turnover and tie performance assessments to team performance.

Providers offer plenty of ways to gather information. They range from enterprise-wide recognition programs to social-recognition platforms, which work with a company's intranet or other internal communication system, to gamification options whereby employees can earn badges and other virtual perks. Others feature engagement and pulse-survey gathering.

However, there can be a lot of heavy lifting associated with putting in place a system to analyze your organization's data. Complex programs can take six to 12 months to build and implement -- time lost recognizing, rewarding and motivating employees.

It seems like HR departments are overwhelmed by the quantity of employee-related data. According to an SHL survey in the Global Assessment Trends Report 2013, 77 percent of HR professionals are unsure of how big data is affecting their company's bottom line.

For these operations, it's not a question of how to corral all the data they have. It's about deciding if and when they want to use it. For many, the decision comes down to resources.

Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report says that many HR departments simply don't have the bandwidth: 86 percent of companies reported no analytics capability in the HR function.

If your department doesn't have (or doesn't want to invest in) the resources to take this direction, all these bells and whistles in your rewards-and-recognition system become a moot point.

So What Alternatives are Available?

You can use plug-in integration and application-programming-interface technology to connect existing HR systems or proprietary recognition-management systems. By using a plug- and-play strategy, you can recognize, motivate and reward employees and provide HR and managers the data they really need to make a rewards program successful.

Plug-and-play is easier to deploy, will save you time and money in the long run and will give you a faster time to value. People don't want another system to log into, so by plugging into existing systems you'll see better user adoption, get the data you really need and keep the process straightforward.

One of the biggest HR challenges to "people analytics" and big data is still getting people to change their behavior once they have the data. Most managers and engagement programs can't apply the data to make positive behavior changes.

How do you get leaders, employees, customers -- and even yourself -- to change behavior?

Try a Human Approach Instead

Engagement will only happen when we remove the complexities and make connecting with employees more human and simpler.

Rewards and recognition is fundamentally about connecting the company with the faces and values of its employees. The rise of employee well-being is evident that there is not only a desire but a need to address the employee experience in a more holistic manner.

The idea is to focus on making the original kind of social connections: the human version, to achieve business objectives. In turn, you'll solve some of the most common workforce problems, such as high turnover, safety incidents, shrinkage and productivity.

Others will tell you if you are not investing in an integrated recognition program with analytics capability within HR and creating a big-data solution, you're going to fall behind.

It's important to consider how big data can help you tune in to what motivates your workforce. But remember: Sometimes, more data isn't better -- it's just more.

Oct 2, 2015
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