Workday, the cloud application provider, is pushing new data science and machine learning applications to help businesses improve talent acquisition and employee retention. The big question: Can data-driven decisions really help businesses to find, hire, motivate and retain staff?

Workday is already well-established in the traditional, SaaS-based HR and financial markets. But the company's latest push involves Workday Insights Applications -- an emerging suite of products that leverage data science and machine learning.

The first product in that suite is called Workday Talent Insights -- which helps businesses address talent-related challenges such as identifying a top performer at risk of leaving the company or pinpointing issues with hiring initiatives that could impact business performance."

According to Workday: "With an interactive dashboard, customers can quickly identify and understand retention risk for the entire organization or a specific department, including the number of top performers at a high risk of leaving in the next year and the projected cost to replace them. Additionally, they can identify the top risk factors unique to their organization or department -- such as time in current job function, number of locations, number of job functions held, or time between promotions. They can also pinpoint which departments, job types, or teams are at the highest risk across the organization."

Workday says organizations such as 3M, Broward College, Dell and Ryan are providing feedback to help shape the applications.

The Bigger Picture

No doubt, businesses are trying to leverage analytics in a never-ending quest to identify top performers -- and slackers or rogue employees.

For instance, JPMorgan has developed an algorithm to help identify employees that might go rogue, break the law or push ethical limits as they work with customers, financial data and more.

And established software giants like Oracle and SAP have pushed hard into the talent management SaaS markets.

Stating the Obvious?

Analytics may help businesses to pinpoint top performers and non-performers. But, sometimes the obvious answers for talent retention may be right in front of us.

A case in point: Laszlo Bock, senior VP of Google's People Operations, says there are only two ways to keep your best people from quitting, according to Business Insider. First, you have to make sure your employees feel like they're working with the industry's best talent. Second, employees must consider their work meaningful. Fail on either front, and retention takes a hit.

Bottom Line

In theory, talent management applications and the associated analytics will allow businesses to really zero in on their best performers -- and retain those performers for meaningful career opportunities. Workday Talent Insights is the latest example of that HR industry movement.

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