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Recently, I was asked about the role of I/O Psychologists in HR analytics and this whole "big data" movement. And so what I am learning as I researched the topic, and just as I had suspected, is that there are many others in the I/O Psychology field who are also involved in HR analytics and big data. I think I/O Psychologists are in a very favorable position in this big data movement.  The required graduate-level statistics courses are really helpful in preparing I/O Psychologists for the quantitative and analytical requirements of big data science.  These courses provide a really good foundation for doing applied statistics --basic stats, descriptive, multivariate, and advanced stats.  These are approaches that are now used for personnel selection, for testing validity and reliability, and for other organizational metrics and analyses.  And now with big data in HR, these statistical techniques come in handy for making correlations, developing models and algorithms, and for measuring the impact of HR on overall organizational metrics.  Big data brings an opportunity for I/O psychologists to expand beyond HR and into the other areas of the organization.  Big data brings plenty of opportunities to investigate relationships between HR variables such as job satisfaction, attrition, demographics, etc, and overall business productivity.  HR itself doesn’t have to have “big” data but it’s the automation and digitization of business transactions that open up these opportunities for analytics and data science in HR.  What often makes it “big data” is the combination of all the data that are available such as HR databases, survey data, competency assessments data, recruitment data, point-of-sale data, financial data, data from social media, customer satisfaction data, and so forth and so on--pretty much anything that can be captured and measured.  The ability to make sense out of all this data, to find the correlations, and to distinguish what’s significant and what’s noise are the necessary skills one (or a team) must have in dealing with big data. I/O Psychologists can now say that those sleepless nights spent learning stats in grad school are finally paying off in this big data era.

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Tags: HR, analytics, psychology


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