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posted by n1 on Friday November 07 2014, @10:39PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the making-employees-happy dept.

Quentin Hardy reports at the NYT that a leading maker of cloud-based software for running corporate human resources and financial operations has announced new products that provide the kind of data analysis that Netflix uses to recommend movies, LinkedIn has to suggest people you might know, or Facebook needs to put a likely ad in front of you. One version of the software, called Insight Applications, predicts which high-performing employees are likely to leave a company in the next year; it then offers possible actions (more money, new job) that might make them stay. "We’re surprised how accurately we can predict someone will leave a job," says Mohammad Sabah, director of data science at Workday. The goal is to predict future business outcomes to take advantage of opportunities and cut risk levels. One future product may be the ability to predict who will and won’t make their sales quotas, and suggest who should be hired to improve the outcome. "Making an employee happy, improving the efficiency of a company these are hard problems that affect corporations."

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  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07 2014, @10:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07 2014, @10:50PM (#113947)

    Finally, management has been automated and is now about to be eliminated from the workforce. This could be the best thing to happen to labor since the Industrial Revolution.

    • (Score: 2) by M. Baranczak on Saturday November 08 2014, @04:28AM

      by M. Baranczak (1673) on Saturday November 08 2014, @04:28AM (#113977)

      Now, all we need to do is automate the investors.

  • (Score: 1) by Buck Feta on Friday November 07 2014, @11:14PM

    by Buck Feta (958) on Friday November 07 2014, @11:14PM (#113950) Journal

    Anybody who has more than three "dentist appointments" a month, is probably already in the interview stage of leaving.

    --
    - fractious political commentary goes here -
    • (Score: 2) by el_oscuro on Saturday November 08 2014, @12:38AM

      by el_oscuro (1711) on Saturday November 08 2014, @12:38AM (#113962)

      I guess that is true - even though everyone knew I was leaving because our contracted ended. So everyone was interviewing. In the meantime the new company botched the transition and there was a major outage. While troubleshooting the outage and conducting phone interviews, I went to a routine scheduled checkup and complained about some gum bleeding. They found 2 infected teeth that required root canals and send me to a specialist. While I was going through the first root canal the new hardware for the system failed again, resulting in another major outage.

      Anyway, I had about 6 dental appointments and one actual (non phone) interview. I still have to get the final crown on the 2nd root canal.

      --
      SoylentNews is Bacon! [nueskes.com]
      • (Score: 1) by Buck Feta on Saturday November 08 2014, @01:29AM

        by Buck Feta (958) on Saturday November 08 2014, @01:29AM (#113964) Journal

        Yikes! That doesn't sound as much fun as interviewing.

        --
        - fractious political commentary goes here -
      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday November 08 2014, @03:26PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Saturday November 08 2014, @03:26PM (#114046) Homepage Journal

        Indeed. They knew I was planning to retire because I told them a year earlier. But I had no dental or doctor appointments at all last year, but had oral surgery thus September. I had six visits to the dentist and three to the surgeon's office.

        I'm damned glad I waited, I was practically worthless the first painful week after surgery.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
  • (Score: 2) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Friday November 07 2014, @11:27PM

    by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Friday November 07 2014, @11:27PM (#113951)

    The assumption here is that management wants to keep employees. I ought to write the opposite software that takes management spreadsheets, the amount of bonuses that management wants, and so on to calculate the exact date you'll be fired. Management seems to operate by setting the bonus they want first and firing employees until they get there. Being employed is a risk level. Does management want anyone to stay? They'll just hire someone else to work cheaper if you did leave. If this software worked, management would use it to decide when to fire you.

    And, really, the suggestion is to offer you more money? That's all they could come up with? Odd that making more money is a good indication you'll get fired. The more you make, the higher up in the spreadsheet you bubble.

    Anyhow, I think this sort of software is a big snow job that separates dumb managers from their money. Even if it did work, anyone could game it to get a promotion if they knew what triggered the "possible actions" they wanted. Yeah, the software already predicted I'd say something cynical like that based on my previous posts. (Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.)

    --
    (E-mail me if you want a pizza roll!)
    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday November 08 2014, @03:34PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Saturday November 08 2014, @03:34PM (#114051) Homepage Journal

      Anyhow, I think this sort of software is a big snow job that separates dumb managers from their money.

      I've become skeptical about big data recently. I got rid of the Chrysler and bought a 2004 Pontiac in May. Last week I got two letters in the mail, one telling me that my Chrysler needed servicing, and one saying my Pontiac was being recalled.

      If big data actually worked, I'd never have gotten the letter from Chrysler. Without government help, GM wouldn't have known who owned the car with that VIN.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @11:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @11:27PM (#114151)

      i prefer to work for small companies

      less pay than what big corps could afford (but not necessarily offer)
      a little more job security (higher value as part of a smaller team)
      more flexibility (hours, work type, work environment, leave, etc)
      friendlier atmosphere
      directors are often part of the production workforce too
      more open to new ideas and more likely to encourage initiative
      can be stressful when work dries up for a while, but i don't think any more than the continual stress of a big corp

      problems arise when a company grows to the point where they need to hire 'managers' as a specific job title

      i think one of the biggest mistakes is when a prospective employee pursues a high wage/salary at the expense of all else
      you can have a decent salary and a miserable life, but on a reduced salary in a different company you might have a happier life. if you're lucky enough to have a high salary and a happy life you are very fortunate
      with a reduced salary job you might have less "stuff" that you can afford, but most working people spend a significant part of their week at work, so if you're not happy at work you probably need to ask yourself if you're working in the right place
      lower salary != lower standard of living; it's unfortunate that corporate media has painted this picture, neither are those ignorant fools pushing for higher minimum wage law that only serve to make it illegal for unskilled people to get a job

  • (Score: 1) by TestablePredictions on Friday November 07 2014, @11:28PM

    by TestablePredictions (3249) on Friday November 07 2014, @11:28PM (#113952)

    This reminds me of the story about an angry father confronting Target for the maternity-tailored coupons his daughter received.

    Imagine the consequences if our automated tools are getting this good at predicting human behavior. Success was once the exclusive domain of the highly insightful, skilled, or entrepreneurial. With tools like this, pointy-haired idiots will be even less subjected to the selection criterion of good judgement. And what will the psychopaths of the world do with power? Ugh.

  • (Score: 2) by pnkwarhall on Friday November 07 2014, @11:54PM

    by pnkwarhall (4558) on Friday November 07 2014, @11:54PM (#113959)

    What signals/data/metrics do they use to make these determinations?

    It can't be just Internet usage monitoring, can it? I can think of one everyday metric that might be used -- clock-in/clock-out time trends -- and this wouldn't seem to be available for many "high-performing" job positions. What other signals/metrics are available to the software?

    I RTFA, and can't find mention of what signals the company uses to make these determinations. I can't think of another datasource rich enough to draw any conclusions from (except for Internet-usage), and the use case of an employee following company policy and, you know, NOT surfing the Internet for another job leads me to believe there **has** to be some other source of data than just on-the-job/on-the-company-machine Internet usage. Can you think of another source of metrics rich enough to make successful predictions?

    Maybe they use data bought from 3rd-party tracking companies to fill out the behavior profile.

    --
    Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @04:32AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08 2014, @04:32AM (#113978)

      I get the idea its something much simpler. Possibly knowing when a company pulls in a bunch of management consultants to "optimize" the workflow, the creative types aren't apt to bode well in an environment where costs are the prime concern.

      Or just watching management moves and correlating how many people lose drive when a certain person in placed over them.

      This is something pretty obvious when you see the ass end of the thing, but its quite hard to see when you see the end of the thing that is smiling and offering his hand for a shake.

  • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Saturday November 08 2014, @07:13AM

    by Common Joe (33) <common.joe.0101NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday November 08 2014, @07:13AM (#113991) Journal

    [sarcasm]With suggestions like "possible actions (more money, new job)", we know these models and the responses to these models will be accurate. The current abilities of companies to sift through resumes to find proper candidates is outstanding and in no way causes me concern. I fully trust management to figure out when I want to leave and not to immediately over-react by having security escorting me out the door with a half eaten bagel.[/sarcasm]

    (For those wondering: at one of my previous companies, they took an entire day to lay off a whole bunch of people for a downsize. They used security to flank them on either side as they surrounded and escorted the unsuspecting victims out the buildings. I wasn't one of the 7% taken, but I knew a lot of people who were and it was humiliating. They couldn't even gather their personal items. Their personal items would be given to them on a future day away from the main building. I saw half eaten breakfast bagels left on the desk many hours after they were kicked out. Security clearances weren't even needed to work there.)

    My prediction? When people want to leave a job, the smart ones will start putting out anonymous resumes and anonymous profiles not directly connected to their main profile. And businesses will start looking more heavily at these. Since it will be anonymous, people will begin to lie even more on their resumes than they do now. What a crazy world we live in.

    Yo! Businesses! I have a better suggestion than looking at big data: learn to manage people better. People won't want to leave if their boss is a good manager and the business is a half way decent place to work at. Focus on that and you'll have a fantastic team. Can't figure out how to manage better? Here's the best suggestion: Listen to your co-workers. (Not your "underlings". Not your "employees". The proper word is "co-workers".) They have good ideas. And don't ask them to write those ideas down on paper when we all know it goes into the round file! Listen to them. Have a good discussion with them and follow up on those discussions. Thank them for the input. Let them see you making a better place to work based on their input. You build trust that way.

    • (Score: 2) by black6host on Sunday November 09 2014, @05:54AM

      by black6host (3827) on Sunday November 09 2014, @05:54AM (#114216) Journal

      Indeed, much good advice there. I was in upper management (Dir. of IT) and during a management meeting a woman who ran the Customer Service department referred to her team as "worker bees". I had a very vocal and strong discussion with her right then and there. I had to explain that those people were *people* not bees and deserved respect. Took a good chunk of time out of the management meeting. They were trying to cut costs by eliminating breaks for hourly workers (illegal), find ways to get them to work longer without pay (illegal), etc. And nobody, not even the president even considered for a second that all that stuff was just plain wrong.

      I always treated my co-workers with respect, made sure there was no overtime (they were salaried) and generally went out of my way to make sure their careers were meaningful for them. I had one rule: If you tell me you can do something in a certain time, and you find out you can't, then all you have to do is come to me as soon as you see you're in trouble. It was my job to see that the job being done had the proper resources, or perhaps more specific training was needed or whatever else might be needed to meet our goals. It was my problem to figure out how to make it work out as that was *my* job.

      I never fired anyone who followed that advice. Now the ones who said yes, all was well and on track only to find out they were 30% complete on deadline day, and never let me help them. They were shown the door.

  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday November 08 2014, @11:32AM

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday November 08 2014, @11:32AM (#114014) Journal

    So employees who are found to fulfil the criteria of that algorithm will get more money? Well, it's time to find out those criteria and tailor your behaviour to it.

    Unless the criterion is "employee is excellent at his job", I doubt this will work well for the company.

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 2) by edIII on Saturday November 08 2014, @11:06PM

      by edIII (791) on Saturday November 08 2014, @11:06PM (#114145)

      I had to go all the way to the bottom to find the other Soylentil that immediately was thinking to game that algorithm like Internet marketers do to Google :)

      "Hey Ed! Step in my office please"

      "Yes?"

      "We want to offer you a raise and some paid vacation days"

      "Well, gee thanks. That was quite unexpected and entirely unpredictable"

      --
      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.