The need, relevance and impact of scientific assessments in the new normal

We often take things for granted. While most companies had robust business continuity plans in place (on paper at least), no one was prepared for the magnitude of impact brought about by the Coronavirus last year. Creating a domino-effect, we witnessed massive economic disruptions worldwide, businesses were forced to shut, and many are yet to see a glimmer of recovery, even today. It impacted people, the nature of work, and the role of technology in every aspect. At the workplace, face-to-face meetings gave way to online video calls and during this time, technology was not just a utility but a lifeline. Businesses started embracing digital tools to boost efficiency, making their data and applications accessible by moving to the cloud, investing in data security, and developing a virtual workforce. They started rapidly pivoting from established processes to new-age digital mandates to assure business continuity.

Using technology to recruit better
A major part of business continuity is hiring, employee retention, promotion, and continuous skill development. For all that to happen seamlessly, assessment becomes very important. An industry report cites about 47% of tech organisations in India shifted from traditional hiring to remote assessment amidst the pandemic. The focus on remote assessments has witnessed a significant rise due to remote working.

Scientifically driven assessments have enabled access to a large talent pool without being restricted by geography. Technology-led assessments promise greater efficiency, timeliness, and sophistication. During tough times, such assessments help us gauge the current state of our people and whether they can work to the best of their abilities. Skills that could not be measured by traditional assessment techniques can be done with the help of scientific assessments. More importantly, these tests are designed not only to make sure the person has the skills required for the job but also to assess whether they are a good ‘culture fit’ for the organisation.

Need, relevance, and impact of corporate assessments
Enhanced remote task environments with multimedia aspects have transformed assessments by making it possible to assess a much wider array of behavioural and cognitive abilities of candidates. Technology-led assessments can be easily customised and can cater to the people demand of an organisation – hiring, employee retention, promotions, skill development. This will help the organisation to eliminate biases, cut costs, eliminate human error, and above all, assess huge volumes of candidates in a short period improving the quality of the hires.

Cognitive assessments
Cognitive assessments test a candidate’s ability to learn fast, solve tough problems, understand ideas that are new and accomplish set targets. Complex jobs can demand a higher level of independent decision-making and problem-solving abilities that will require cognitive prowess. The tools help the company to evaluate very crucial aspects in a potential hire such as logical reasoning, decision making, and critical thinking. Cognitive assessments help companies predict employee success in knowledge-based or vocational roles across sectors. Research has shown that cognitive assessment tools have better predictive validity than traditional selection tools.

Behavioural assessments
It is imperative to hire someone who relates and aligns themselves with the organisation’s business goals. It is difficult to accurately assess a candidate’s behaviour with the traditional method. A behavioural assessment helps us identify how an employee goes about their work and objectives. This method of assessment can be used alone or with other measures, such as ability and personality tests to create an overall image of the participant. Failure in assessing the behavioural traits of candidates can contribute to the attrition rate of a company. Scientific assessments can help organisations better understand the temperament of their new hires. The high reliability and validity score determine the candidate’s chances of being hired or not.

As more organisations move to a hybrid workforce, scientific corporate assessments will be in focus more than ever in a world that is making its way back to normalcy. More companies will focus on how to optimize their workforce and expect employees to address the skill gap through assessment results. Corporate assessments are being implemented in companies across sectors to ensure the hiring processes are optimized, and they will play a vital role in skill development and enable organisations to prepare a future-ready workforce.

AI and the future of appraisals

The employee appraisal process is a critical aspect of every enterprise. Its effective management ideally leads to higher productivity amongst its employees. In practice though, there are various errors in the traditional performance appraisal process. These errors affect the objectivity of the appraisal to a large extent. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the appraisal system followed by most organisations today needs reform.

Hiring and performance appraisal were both deeply impacted by the outbreak of the pandemic. This year, with the appraisal and hiring season again around the corner, people are looking forward to progressing in their careers especially since a significant number of working professionals spent 2020 working doubly hard and upskilling to stay relevant in the dynamic market.

With Human Resources infusing technology into every aspect of their function, we observe a clear switch in how talented professionals are leveraging these cutting-edge technologies to automate their tasks. Measuring employees’ performance, for example, has transformed over the last few years since a lot of traditional performance processes were unsuccessful in meeting the expectations of employees and employers.

Integrating AI and scientific assessment tools into the appraisal process has, to a degree, simplified the process. Scientifically designed, reliable behavioural assessments assist leaders to comprehend what inspires and encourages employees. Using AI to regulate ongoing performance evaluation can help eliminate bias and make the entire process proficient, error-free, and scalable. The percentiles acquired from these comprehensive evaluation scores can be useful in comparisons and benchmarking. The trainability factor score provides scientific inputs for favourable learning and development intervention and even proposes suitable training programs to bridge the skills gap.

Technical evaluations can be easily administered and help evaluate employee performance routinely, share feedback and make it more effective and goal-oriented. It furnishes HR and other teams with analytics that assist them to intelligently invest their time and resources in people development.

Employee performance could change every month and across projects, keeping in mind the work situations, personal encouragement, and other factors. Given that 70% of organisations need to coordinate performance management along with other talent decisions, AI can develop a source of truth for managers to draw out important bits of information from. One of the greatest USPs of utilizing AI in performance evaluation is its capacity to deliver prescriptive suggestions. While historical analytics considers past information, prescriptive analysis specifies prospects and draws clear suggestions for managers to take. For example, IBM’s AI-based performance management feedback solution informed managers that awarding a few employees a 10% raise would diminish their flight risk by 90%. With the help of analytics, AI can recognise gaps right off the bat in the review cycle, permitting managers to upskill an employee for a different role before the evaluation season comes around. Scientific assessment tools in the appraisal process make the system significantly more effective and purposeful across workplaces. Furthermore, they have taken it way beyond the customary indicators. This intervention has made the experience productive and meaningful.

The AI-driven appraisal is presently gaining traction as the next normal across organisations. For those hoping to achieve business results by concentrating on employee satisfaction and improving productivity and outcomes, AI-based performance evaluation will be essential.

Data engineering jobs are on the rise in India, here’s why

News on the jobs front in the country has been rather grim. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc, job cuts have become normal across the industry. However, amidst all the job losses, there has been a rise in data engineering jobs in India. Gaurav Vohra, cofounder and CEO, Jigsaw Academy tells Dataquest viewers more about this trend.

DQ: Data Engineering jobs seem to be on the rise in India. What has led to this development?
Gaurav Vohra:
Last year almost all organisations, irrespective of the domain they were in, went on to leverage technology to the fullest to drive innovation, optimise processes and thrive in the market. Needless to say, data in turn became the principal source for businesses to survive and prosper. In any organisation, the fundamental data science strategy will cover data infrastructure, data storage, data mining, data modelling, data crunching, and metadata management. While Data Scientists are responsible for analysing, testing, aggregating, refining and conveying data to the enterprise, Data Engineers lay the foundation for these projects. They essentially perform three pivotal tasks – designing, building and arranging data pipelines for the team of Data Scientists to work on. Now companies have understood the importance and need for Data Engineers in order to help in the successful implementation of their data strategies. Thus, spiking the demand for proficient Data Engineers and rise in job openings in the country.

DQ: Are there enough skilled individuals as far as data engineering jobs are concerned?
Gaurav Vohra:
While several businesses are beginning to acknowledge the significance of Data Engineers, the lack of talent is all too real. In job portals like LinkedIn, there are more than 19,000+ Data Engineer job vacancies in the country today. This means the number of open positions for Data Engineers is almost five times greater than that of Data Scientists.

DQ: What must students do in order to be eligible for these jobs?
Gaurav Vohra:
Data Engineers need expertise in software engineering, programming languages, and a strong understanding of core technical skills. High-level knowledge of ETL, SQL and Java, Scala, and Python is a must. In order to be eligible for Data Engineering jobs, learners need to upskill themselves and build these aforementioned skills. A student can develop these skills by pursuing an online certification course in the Data Science domain from established institutes.

DQ: Are educational institutions in India at par with universities abroad when education in emerging technologies are concerned?
Gaurav Vohra:
Educational institutions in India are still evolving and embracing digital technology in their teaching methodologies where education in emerging technologies is concerned. EdTech companies are the sole reason behind this transformation. The Indian Edtech sector has accomplished a great deal in a short span of time, say 5-7 years, and also established global standards. Today, India has 30+ EdTech companies that are adept in emerging technologies and offer upskilling opportunities to freshers and professionals equally.

What is ‘People Analytics’ and how to make a career in this emerging domain

In the digital age, decisions are driven by data. After revolutionizing marketing, sales, customer support, supply chain management — the science of data and analytics has also digitally transformed the human resource (HR) functions. The HR department has metamorphosed from being the auxiliary wing of any business to be more of a strategic partner. And this has been possible with the incorporation of ‘People Analytics’ in all HR operations.

Advanced HR analytics tools analyse employee data, processes, functions, problems, and performance to enhance workforce efficiency and achieve sustainable business growth. It is a deeply data-driven and goal-oriented method. The integration of people analytics and digital HR into workforce management contributes to better decision-making. A study from CEB Analytics reports that companies that have successfully adopted HR analytics can improve talent outcomes by 9 per cent, which in turn would boost a 4 per cent gross growth up to USD 12.8 million.

About 73 per cent of HR leaders said that integrating people analytics would be an important focus for their companies in the next five years, according to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends survey.

Organisations now have started to recognise and appreciate the importance of data and analytics in workforce management. Thus, they are actively hiring HR professionals with proficient knowledge and skills in this domain.

What will one learn in the course?

Today, there are many online certificate courses in People Analytics available in the market, which will give you in-depth insights into the domain. Including an online course offered by IIM-Indore which can be taken by anyone who has graduated with at least 50 per cent marks in graduation and more than two years of professional experience in the HR domain.

Other renowned courses include the People Analytics course offered online via Coursera by Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, the analytics Edge by MIT, key principles of human resource management by the University of Minnesota among several others.

The course teaches about HR analytics techniques and digital HR tools including analytics methodology, basic data manipulation, data visualization in Excel, data and use cases in digital HR, workforce analytics, measures in talent acquisition, to name but a few. Tools including Excel, Tableau, and Python are some of the tools. Now is the best time to pursue people analytics and digital HR certification, add value to one’s resume and stay up-to-date with the changing workforce scenario.

What are jobs offered after the course?

Now, let’s look at the top three job roles that will be trending this year in the HR domain:

HR Analysts: An HR Analyst offers data-based insights and advice on best practices in compensation, advantages and management of results. They manage and evaluate personnel inventories and evaluate job requirements to have a positive impact on employee retention. As per PayScale’s survey, an early career Human Resources Analyst, on average, earns anywhere between INR 4 – 5 lacs per annum.

HR Specialists: They manage the payroll system for enterprises by creating a new hire account and deactivating separate accounts. They train all employees on how to use the payroll system and work with providers on system issues. They ensure accurate and fast enforcement of garnishments & deductions and timely processing of payroll.

Human Resource Information Systems Specialists: A Human Resource Information Systems Specialist in an organisation is responsible for implementing and maintaining its Human Resource Information Management (HRIM) systems. These expert HR professionals provide consultancy and management advice regarding system specifications based on organisational needs and resources.

Whether you’re working in the HR domain or someone aspiring to join the workforce management field, pursuing a People Analytics course will help you enhance your decision-making skills and become a data-smart HR professional in a dynamic work environment.