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30 July 2019

Currently, data is available in two forms: structured and unstructured. Structured data refers to data that comes in predefined fields or formats, for example employee records in a company database or HRIS. Today, analytics using structured data has become commonplace because many statistical and mathematical methodologies are involved in this matter.

On the other hand, unstructured data is the complete opposite and not in a fixed or standard format, such as comments and emails on social media. Obtain actionable insights from unstructured data is a complex process; therefore it is not surprising that organisations prioritise structured data rather than unstructured data to be analysed.

The organisation's increasing focus on becoming more customer-oriented, coupled with explosive growth of social media and IOT, makes it important for companies to utilise unstructured data as much as possible. Furthermore, some references state that 80% of available data is unstructured data.

The marketing department in an organisation needs to continue listening to key stakeholders namely customers for feedback that helps organisations improve their products or services. If the analogy is made, HR also has critical stakeholders, one of which is the employees.

Now, let's discuss how unstructured data from each stakeholder helps organisations get actionable insight:

Employees: When people continue to be active on social media, many employee experiences, expectations, and reviews extend to external media. These expressions are not only limited to external platforms. Some companies adopt internal social media platforms such as Yammer, Chatter and IBM Connections. They now have a large amount of data that helps them understand the sentiments, aspirations, and expectations of their employees.

For example, we have worked with one of the leading companies to understand employee sentiment during global campaigns, run on their internal platforms and aim to interact with company leaders. We have also been involved in data analytics projects where organisations have launched internal thematic surveys to get employees' views on certain fields, including work culture, organisational health and organisational transformation.

Talented prospective employees: As with prospective customers who carry out detailed research before buying a product, lately, talented prospective employees actively seek information about companies on the web, social media or job portals. Questions and responses from companies are referred to as rich data sources to enable them to understand overall employee expectations, company sentiments and performance on various HR parameters.

Trade unions: The majority of unions are currently active on Twitter and Facebook. In the case of general employment policy announcements or even problems throughout the company such as strikes, we have seen the involvement of active social media from stakeholders such as trade unions and employees so that a conducive work climate can be monitored.

Government agencies: Labour policies on issues such as outsourcing, immigrant workers, pensions and wage reform are regularly debated on social media. Categorical insights from this can provide important input for developing policy and decision making in the future.

Trade agencies/industries: Many top industries are now active on Twitter and use platforms to share industry updates and trends that can help organisations develop their HR policies.

Others: Many content, expertise and leadership tendencies related to HR policies are available on social media by HR bloggers, learning material experts, and specialised consulting companies. This can also help to create the organisation's HR policies.

In creating superior employee experiences, it takes more than just quantitative analysis insights to dig deeper into the employee's sentiments, hopes and aspirations. Analysis of unstructured data is clearly a step forward and can complement quantitative based analysis. Do not let us be in the condition of "DRIP" - Data of Rich, Information Poor HR that is abundant and overwhelming large amounts of data in large quantities but are not able to process it into information or actionable insight that is very helpful in important decision making processes.

Written by Heru Wiryanto - BDO Senior Technical Advisor

For more information regarding the content of this article kindly contact our consultant: Arina Marldiyah ([email protected])