The term “Big Data” really means nothing more than doing a deep analysis of the information you have. It’s “big” because we have more data than we used to have (bigger data would actually be the better term). The analytics really have more to do with being able to answer questions more reliably due to the larger number of data points. Evidenced based decision making really asks, “How can previously analyzed data help us make the best choice here?”

In this article, the author does a very good job of describing “big data” and how it can practically be used to solve business problems. Boiled down to its essence, he uses the information to find the one nugget (or more) of information that leads to improved business performance. When referring to something done by a user, he calls this the “golden motion,” or, what the customer does that leads to higher sales. When using the information to make smart business choices, it’s using the evidence to make decisions.

We can apply the “golden motion” and evidenced based decision making to HR as well. Here are a couple of examples:

1)    Signing up for benefits. Presuming that you have a self-service model of employees signing up for health care, 401(k) contributions etc., have you looked at you web portal stats to see which behaviors directly lead to more signups? Is it going to a particular FAQ? Or, a page which contains a specific graph?

2)    Are employees engaged? While engagement surveys are normally anonymous (and they should be), you can still look at the behaviors of groups which tend to be more engaged than others. Do they have more/less meetings than other groups? Do they do more organized “fun” things together? Do they ask for more/less input from executives? What behaviors do their managers exhibit?

3)    What are the best predictors of job performance and/or turnover? Have you analyzed your pre-employment and current employment data points to see which ones are truly indicative of superstars or those who left too soon? What are some of the things that top performers do (besides doing their jobs well)?

What “big data” does is get us to think about is the hidden side of things. And you probably have the data.

For instance, employee engagement underlies productivity and profitability. According to Gallup’s employee data from 2010-2011, “organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every disengaged employee experienced 147% higher earnings per share than their competition.” Understanding the drivers of engagement can help you increase it to the benefit of your bottom line. But, you need to dig into the data to find these nuggets.

But are you asking the right questions to find the “golden motion”?

For more information on using employee engagement and pre-employment testing data to improve profitability, please contact Warren at 310 670-4175 or