Last updated: 01.06.15

Big data holds key to understanding workplace culture

Big data can help businesses to identify and fix workplace culture issues, but many professionals hold back from taking responsibility, according to businesswoman and author Rahaf Harfous.

Speaking at HR Forum onboard the Arcadia, Ms Harfous said: "We’re living in an age today where data has become every single person’s responsibility.

"It is no longer a technology issue. It is no longer simply an IT issue. It has become a leadership issue, it’s a strategic issue and it’s a people issue."

While conducting research for the book The Decoded Company, Ms Harfous and her co-authors identified a number of benefits that businesses using data to understand and engineer workplace culture have experienced.

Taking search giant Google as an example, she explained that the company carried out a big data project in order to reveal what makes a good manager. It was found that good coaching was the most valued trait for a manager to possess, while strong technical skills were viewed as the least important.

Following the findings, Google went on to amend its recruitment policies and development programmes.

Ms Harfous continued by explaining that a true understanding of culture can contribute towards overcoming skills shortages, after Manpower Group’s 2015 Talent Shortage Survey revealed that 38 of employers worldwide struggled to fill vacancies - up from 36 per cent last year.

What's more, Ms Harfous' research found that data can help to boost targeted learning and development since it can be used to specially tailor a programme to meet certain needs and learning styles, as well as pinpoint where an employee needs guidance.

"Thanks to data and thanks to analytics, we have the ability to deliver customised processes to our organisations," she concluded.