The Cloud Knows Which Employees Want to Quit

By Small BusinessFOXBusiness

Imagine a future where data can predict which employees are flight risks, and which of those are worth trying to keep – and your “auto assistant” then schedules an appointment with them and marks your calendar?

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It’s not that far off, according to Stuart Sackman, CIO/CTO and corporate vice president, global product and technology, at ADP. In fact, some of this HR-solutions technology is already being used.

Sackman envisions a day when systems are smarter, interfaces are more conversational and experiences with technology are more personal, all thanks to the Cloud. He says these are just some of the big disruptors seen on the horizon at ADP, the human resources solutions company that pays one in six American workers.

“At ADP, 100 percent of all our applications are in the Cloud,” said Sackman. “We were in the Cloud before there was a Cloud.”

ADP uses the Cloud — and the access to data and analytics that it provides — in ways that it hopes will simplify the lives of both employers and employees.

One way that Sackman says the Cloud has changed human resource management in the past five years is an increase in employees using mobile devices to access HR services, including direct deposit and retirement information. While “desktop only” access is on the decline, he says approximately 8 million people utilize ADP services on mobile devices like cell phones and tablets.

“The steepness of the adoption is remarkable,” said Sackman, who attributes the increase in mobile to “the growth of Millennials in the marketplace and how they want to interact with apps. It is the consumerization of IT.”

The Cloud, according to Sackman, is also giving employers today better forecasting data about their employees and industries. For example, ADP offers predictive analysis based on a proprietary algorithm that it says can anticipate the likelihood that an employee will quit.

“We are very confident in our flight-risk predictor,” said Sackman.

But just because and employee is flagged as a flight risk, doesn’t mean employers should fire that person. Sackman advises that employers temper flight risk with high performance analysis to determine how best to address the issue with individual employees. If a prized employee is at risk of leaving, employers and managers might be better served to try to find ways to try to keep them on staff. However, if the employee is already under-performing, perhaps parting ways sooner is better.

“The insights we provide are not just complex tools but help people make better decisions,” said Sackman. “Based on real Big Data” stored and analyzed in the Cloud.

But the big disruptor Sackman sees in the future of the Cloud is “conversational interface, with information delivered to you in an interactive way,” he said. “The systems will always be on in the background but will come to you and be less obtrusive.”

ADP is working on HR solutions that will be like automated assistants. For example, imagine a system that looks at a manager’s calendar and prompts: “While you are traveling to Des Moines, you have two high-performing associates who are flight risks. Do you want to schedule a meeting with them?”

The manager says yes, and the automated assistant sets up the meeting with the employees. But, said Sackman, over time, the automated assistant learns each person’s patterns and goes one step further.

“Instead, it will just say, ‘Hey, I’ve set up meetings with these people,’ without even asking. A system can be more intelligent through the use of Big Data.”

Sackman acknowledges that, “as we go to predictive, it’s always on the edge of creepy,” he said. “Systems are smart, and they know a lot about you.”

But, with “the use of machine learning … systems get smarter and deal with each individual person. Today, applications are all pull. But tomorrow they will be more push,” he said.

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