Using R in the Human Resources department

November 27, 2012

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Ajay Ohri, author of R for Business Analytics, was recently interviewed about using R instead of Excel for human resources management. Human Resources is an increasingly analytics-driven field, with predictive modeling now used to prioritize applicants for interview and to organize workspaces, to give just two examples. As Ajay points out, R gets over the limitations of spreadsheets:

There is a lot of data out there and it’s stored in different formats. Spreadsheets have their uses but they’re limited in what they can do. The spreadsheet is bad when getting over 5000 or 10000 rows – it slows down. It’s just not designed for that. It was designed for much higher levels of interaction.

In the business world we really don’t need to know every row of data, we need to summarise it, we need to visualise it and put it into a powerpoint to show to colleagues or clients.

In a similar vein, the social network Facebook uses R for a variety of internal human-resources analytics applications. (The fact that Facebook employees use Facebook to collaborate internally provides a wealth of data to work with.) These applications include:

  • Selecting peer reviewers during performance review season
  • Setting up optimally constructed teams, and even optimizing seating charts to improve interactions and productivity
  • Automatically filtering internal news feeds of employee content
  • Suggesting new colleague interactions, and giving managers insight into employee interactions.

You can read more about how Facebook uses R for HR applications in Eric Sun's presentation (PDF), Criss-Crossing the Org Chart: Predicting Colleague Interactions with R.

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