Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Talk By Michael Housman - Chief Analytics Officer At Evolv

Today I attended a talk by Michael Housman - Chief Analytics Officer at Evolv, at the School of Information of UC Berkeley. Michael analyzes employee data for a living. My colleague Andy Yen, who is now responsible for the product marketing for SuccessFactors Extensions and Technology topics joined me as well.

Michael said that Evolv focuses mainly on the selection and retention of hourly workers mostly in the hospitality and retail industries. They do provide other services. He talked about their Evolv Selection product that helps customers hire the person with the right fit for the job. Evolve looks at data based on candidate surveys and on-the-job performance of hourly workers. Evolv does not look at data generated outside the context of work. For example, they do not look at facebook or twitter data.

Here are some key insights he shared based on the data he has analyzed.

1. Poor working relationships with managers and colleagues are the main reason people leave a company, followed by macro economic trends. Interestingly lack of skill to perform a job was the last reason a person leaves a job. In other words, bad people managers are a huge liability for a company.

2. A person who is hired via a referral stays with the company for a much longer period compared to one without a referral. In other words, invest in your referral program.

3. People who are honest perform better in their job. The only job were dishonest people performed better than honest people is inside sales.

4. Office locations with better amenities led to employee retention. So invest in free food, gym laundry and other facilities. It is a much better investment than increasing salaries.

5. Employees who work at home full time stay longer in the job compared to people who commute to work. This is in the call center industry, mainly. However the productivity of employees who work at home went down over a longer period. I suspect that is because they lack opportunities for informal learning. This problem, in my opinion, can be addressed to some extend by investing in informal learning tools such as SAP Jam.

6. Employees who are active in 3-4 social networks tend to be more productive and better employees.

7. The kind of training a person receives and even the nature of the trainer has a huge impact on productivity and performance of an employee. So invest in good training content and good trainers. It is worth it.

8. One toxic employee can bring down the productivity of many other employees. Get rid of them quickly or screen them out during the hiring process with data driven screening tools.

Michael mentioned that he is looking for partnerships to help him analyze the large volumes of data his company has. Reach out to him if you are interested.

After the talk I met Pavel Vanegas and Nicolas Soldi, both graduate students at the School of Information. They has interesting ideas about how data can help job seekers, not just recruiters. One of the ideas was to proactively analyze companies that might be a good fit for a candidate and give such report to the job seeker. Job seekers might be willing to pay for such information.

Michael commented on that idea, saying that Evolv did build a product aimed at job seekers and later decided to focus on the enterprises.

Evolv is now part of Cornerstone OnDemand.
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