Dealing with people analytics’ ‘creep’ factor - Analytics in HR

Dealing with people analytics’ ‘creep’ factor

Employers are finding new and different applications for people analytics, technology that can assess workers and their behaviors. Companies are tracking facial expressions during job interviews,...

Employers are finding new and different applications for people analytics, technology that can assess workers and their behaviors. Companies are tracking facial expressions during job interviews, keeping tabs on worker prescription refills, even mining their email and hiring outside companies to monitor everything they do in the online world during their off time.

People analytics uses AI and other technologies to analyze the massive amounts of data that organizations have on their workers to measure, report and understand employee performance. Not surprisingly, some of the most innovative companies, such as eBay, Electronic Arts, Google and IBM, are using it.

At IBM, for example, the HR department uses people analytics to monitor and evaluate employee communications and interactions in public forums to determine who might be ready for a promotion or career path change.

But not all companies like to talk publicly or even internally about the extent to which they’re using people analytics. The deployment of these systems has created a still largely muffled but simmering, underlying debate over employee privacy rights and how to take advantage of the latest and greatest technology without crossing legal and ethical boundaries — and creeping out workers.

Dave Weisbeck, chief strategy officer for the people analytics solution provider Visier, says the debate raises tricky questions, “because everyone has a different view of what’s creepy.”

While the laws are very clear about employers being able to monitor employee actions on company-issued equipment, Anna Tavis, clinical associate professor of human capital management at New York University, said technology is “racing way ahead of us.”

“I envision there will be a big issue around employee privacy and their ability to have an undisclosed life from their employer,” said Tavis, who is also a member of the advisory board of several start-ups in the people analytics field.

For companies like IBM, a leader in developing big data and AI solutions to help companies with recruiting, career enhancement and performance management, the creep factor is a non-issue, says Carrie Altieri, vice president of communications for IBM’s “people and culture” division.

 

Although the company has a sophisticated “decision support tool” that identifies things like employee burnout and potential new career paths based on employee activity across the company’s many internal social and other platforms, she said, participation is optional, and employee email and other private communications are never mined or monitored.

 

Click here to continue reading Jeri Clausing’s article.


Join the Conversation