HR Management & Compliance

Leveraging Data without Leaving Humans Behind

In a recent “Faces of HR” column, we heard from Dr. Sanja Licina, Future of Organizations Lead at Globant, about juggling empathy as an HR professional. We also discussed using data and leveraging technology to better understand the workforce.

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HR Daily Advisor: How do you balance technological advances while keeping the human element in mind? Has your personal growth played a role?

Licina: The ability to leverage technology just continues to really blow my mind. I was recently speaking to colleagues who had done some personality testing and we were discussing how we could apply that methodology to our different employees across Globant. I had a lot of experience from my previous research training on how to get results and use behavioral data. We also had someone on the project who was specialized in neuroscience and somebody who was specialized in artificial intelligence (AI).

When we were considering all of those different psychological principles and all the different ways we function as humans, we made sure we didn’t lose that as we thought about how we could apply AI to the business. So I would say one of the biggest areas of growth for me while I’ve been at Globant particularly has been this ability to challenge myself on how we can continue to leverage technology to really create advancements but also be very conscious about not losing the humanity aspect of it.

HR Daily Advisor: That’s really the important part, right?

Licina: Yes, I agree with you. And that’s why that balance is always so interesting; you’re thinking about how to make sure you maintain somebody’s privacy. How do you make sure you always understand, when you’re using certain models, that you’re aware of the likelihood of error, that you’re aware of the confidence of your model? One of the big things we’re working on now is looking at engagement predictions and asking, “How do you make sure to know if somebody is disengaging?” Because it’s better to retain the person and have the conversation before he or she is gone. But if we’re going to empower leaders and different people to be able to have that kind of insight, you also need to empower them with the knowledge and the skills of how to leverage that information when they have access to it.

People tend to think differently, have different personal experiences, and have different levels of emotional intelligence. So how do you make sure you can communicate all these incredible insights? Historically, HR has been that; when we had even the traditional survey measures, HR would then have to distill that information for managers. It could create a bottleneck. Now, the thought is how you get data and insights into the hands of people who can act on them the quickest. That’s how you can make the quickest impact. But, you also have to consider how you prepare them to be able to make really good decisions and be able to understand that information and know exactly what to do with it.

In some ways, we are working on removing that potential bottleneck. We also have to do it very consciously, rather than unleashing information and assuming everybody knows how to act on it. We have to be really thoughtful and prepare people in such a way that they are empowered to have a much greater impact. We want to support those actors and make sure they feel comfortable and knowledgeable.

HR Daily Advisor: Do you guys have the staff to be able to dig down to the personal level once you’ve analyzed all of your data?

Licina: I think the one lucky part of working for an organization like Globant is that we do. For example, we know that real-time feedback is very popular right now. A lot of people are talking about it. One of the things we’re doing is an analysis of the relevance and impact of the information. We ask what kind of sentiment the feedback has. How constructive is it? How actionable is it? How objective was it? Was it based on a particular situation?

The goal is to help people give each other better insights on how to improve. Now, for that kind of project, we have a data scientist and a business analyst. I partnered very closely with them to help them understand what our human objective is. Why are we doing this? What are we looking to accomplish? What kinds of things do I believe are important in feedback? And then, they categorize information, run the frequencies analysis, make sure they put all of the different models to understand who’s providing quality feedback, and determine where we have opportunities to improve and how we scale that. For me, it was fortunate that we have those people already at Globant and that I was able to partner with them.

HR Daily Advisor: How do you communicate to leadership the need to bridge data and a human touch?

Licina: One of our areas of focus this year is to bridge that gap. How do you present business metrics and people metrics in such a way that you have to look at them together? That helps humanize data a little more, and it shows the impact. It really doesn’t give you an option to think about business metrics without thinking about the impact of the people metrics as well.