Taiwan HR Leaders Discuss "Big Data" Successes

Hosted by: GSK DuPont

The Chapman Consulting Group was delighted to co-host two groups of Taiwan HR Leaders in Taipei last week at the offices of DuPont and GlaxoSmithKline. Both groups were very lively, and an interesting discourse took place around the subject of data management, data systems, and the way that ‘big data’ is changing how HR is run in Taiwan.

The conversation ranged from using data analysis for tracking why employees leave organisations, to using data to identify and promote employees, to utilising it to enhance corporate values within the company. It is clear that ‘big data’ is having a significant impact on HR today, and below are some of the most interesting points that were raised in both meetings.

Corporate Values to the Forefront

In one example, an industrial company had very cleverly interwoven its key corporate value of ‘respect’ into its global data and business processes. The company collected various data points from around the world on this subject, and in markets where this ‘respect’ score was low, the company knew that extra investment in employee training and development was needed. It was a good example of how a simple ‘behind the scenes’ global data process can help contribute to a much greater ‘face-to-face’ impact in the future.


Analysing and Diversifying

In another example, a retail company had introduced an extra element into their employee self-service platform, which helped to capture the diversity of teams and overall employee populations. Diversity has been pinpointed as one of the key HR goals that can be both policed and championed by mining ‘big data’ and analytics, as it is relatively easy to accumulate and compare information on factors such as age, race and gender. As with all ‘big data’ matters, the key is in knowing what to do with the results of these studies, rather than just looking at the raw statistics themselves. In the case of one technology company, data on female employees in R&D positions was used to focus in on one high profile female engineer. As a result, this employee was encouraged to go public with her story in many internal and external ‘Women in Technology’ initiatives.


An HR Leader from a sales-driven organisation demonstrated a very clever system that was brought into her organisation, to help automate the way that sales incentives could be accurately linked to an employee’s personal contribution to a project. The system was able to link business results to employee data, and even link it to financial data (to check whether an invoice had been paid or not) before automatically calculating someone’s sales incentive bonus in one click.

This relatively simple data process revolutionised the way that the company saw itself, and made it very transparent for employees to understand their incentives. Simultaneously, it made the back-office processes between HR, sales and finance much more efficient. The system was able to weight different actions to different sales incentives, which in turn helped to ensure that the sales teams took up new behaviours very easily. In this particular example, the company wanted to diversify its client base, to avoid reliance on just a small number of regular customers, so the data process was geared to give a higher commission to business from new accounts. The company had tried to achieve this many times before, but only by implementing a ‘big data’ project did they see these rapid results.

Examining Attrition

Attrition data was a particular focus for one healthcare company. The organisation had a very advanced system for comparing company bonuses and attrition rates with the industry averages, and tried to relate this to the company’s historically high employee turnover. The results of this data analysis helped the HR team to make a business case for a particular solution, which would not have been prioritised without the ability to present these figures to business decision-makers. The company then went on to track and compare these rates on an annual basis, so that the attrition rates were not just a market comparison, but also a comparison to themselves from previous years.

Another company from the technology sector took this one step further by having separate ‘good attrition’ and ‘bad attrition’ rates. This allowed for an easier analysis of the true meaning behind their attrition numbers, and also enabled them to set different targets for ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Naturally the only potential danger to this system is in the human judgment needed by managers to deduce what counts as ‘good’ versus ‘bad’. However, this is the nature of most processes — as much as we might want to automate everything, a lot of things still come down to the human element.

And the Survey Says….

And finally, we took a look at the ‘big daddy’ of data collection that has been around the HR world for a number of years — the employee engagement survey. In spite of the fact that it’s been around for so long, there are still many companies not getting it right. In some cases this is because the survey never results in change, so employees have slowly got used to the idea that there’s no point in taking them seriously. In other instances, there were cases where team managers (or even country managers) tried very hard to influence the results, so that the data coming out of the surveys was corrupt and therefore useless. In all cases of ‘big data,’ it’s not as simple as having a survey and going through the motions. It’s about having a culture that knows what to do with it.

What a lot of these examples illustrated was that introducing new data systems into the HR world has brought some very concrete benefits. However, the success of a new system still comes down to people. A company might spend millions putting a new system into place, but if the organisational culture leads people to ignore, circumvent, or undermine it, then it will amount to nothing. Therefore, with any new system, ‘big data’ or otherwise, it requires top level executive buy-in, and constant reinforcement, so that it is truly accepted and can lead to great results.


Here’s What People are Saying…

“I enjoyed the interaction in the meeting and also learned more on alternative methodologies for managing and making good use of big data for analysing staff activities and/or development. In addition, big data also helps HR in evaluating the company situation and in coming up with strategic advice for Management.” – Rita Pan, Taiwan Head of Human Resources, Credit Agricole CIB

“The meeting was interactive and everyone openly shared best practices and thoughts about how HR can manage ‘big data.’ It was an informative gathering, and I am glad to have been a part of it.” – Eleanor Huang, Taiwan Head of Human Resources, Crocs

“All participants’ sharing and discussion truly generated a lot of good ideas and concepts around ‘big data’ that will be very helpful for future HR system design.” – Jeffrey Tzuoo, Taiwan Head of Human Resources, DuPont

“The discussions in the meeting were very inspiring. We got to know different perspectives from different companies/industries. Great input.” – Anthony Lien, Taiwan Head of Human Resources, Ericsson

“The meeting was very successful, not only to learn the best HR practices from other MNCs but also a great platform for networking.” – Irene Chen , Taiwan Head of Human Resources, GE Healthcare

“I enjoyed the discussion very much! With effective facilitation, lots of best practices, as well as pains/struggles shared in 2 hours – it actually is a best practice of HR networking.” – Debbie Shen, Taiwan Head of Human Resources, GE Power & Water

“I liked t
he format of the gathering, which is issue driven and very interactive.” – Connie Ma, Global Head of Human Resources, Trend Micro


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