How HR and People Analytics can help manage Employee Wellbeing

As employees, we all want to perform well in our jobs and be recognised for our contribution. But when working late or not speaking up when you are overloaded becomes the cultural norm, it may lead to employees experiencing damage to their wellbeing and in the worst case, burning out.

With 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem this year, a Gallup study found that around two-thirds of full time employees experience occupational burnout at some stage. This issue not only affects the employees, but the wider organisation. People who experience burnouts are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times more likely to be actively seeking a different job. And of course, if employees are constantly absent, this affect the business. In turn, this could financially impact the business due to high churn rate and funds needed for recruitment.  

By taking more responsibility for the wellbeing of their employees, businesses can create a more positive and productive work environment for their people to thrive in. Innovative technology like Predictive People Analytics is uniquely positioned to support HR to do this in an accurate and timely fashion.

Giving your employees a voice

Sometimes employees may lack the confidence to speak up in the workplace or ask for help. They may instead suffer in silence, which undoubtedly makes the problem worse. Using a platform like Cognisess Pro will allow these people to communicate how they are feeling directly to HR from the privacy of their desks, or at home. Our platform allows employees to log data regarding their mood and how many hours they slept, as well as providing a variety of emotion assessments including how hard they are on themselves in times of difficulty and pressure. These tools can provide HR with the insights needed to improve employees’ wellbeing and optimise the working environment to overcome these issues identified.

Relationships and teams are key

Relationships are key to nurturing a positive work environment; the most important working relationships employers have is with their team. Interactions happen daily making positive relationships and healthy dynamics key to a successful business. Therefore, creating an environment where team members work cohesively is important. According to Dr G. Ramesh and Dr K. Vasuki, in Addressing Employee’s Underperformance by Nurturing a Positive Work environment, one of the reasons why people under perform is due to conflict within a team and personality differences. In contrast, a meta-analysis by Kristof-Brown found that employees who fit in with their company, coworkers and managers perform better in their job. Therefore, implementing a software which understands the current team can help HR Managers to enhance the team with the addition of new candidates which align with the current culture and attributes.

In the past, creating a great team was a process of trial and error, backed up by a manager’s knowledge on each person’s unique abilities. However, a new hire can change a team’s dynamic positively or negatively and it may seem like there is no way to predict the outcome of this. Our Team Fit feature is able to eliminate this risk. Managers are more able to reveal how an individual will fit into an existing team dynamic, allowing them to maintain a conflict free environment. It collates and maps an individual’s results, like how they work and communicate, via a user-friendly graph against the attributes of others in any defined team or group. The team and individual don’t need to meet for the HR manager to understand whether a person would fit well into that team. This scientifically valid assessment not only increases resource efficiency for managers, but also prevents any loss in productivity derived from the wrong individuals working together – or worse, accelerating churn.

Creating a supportive culture

It is also important that employees fit into a company’s culture. Although employees have different skill sets, workers who collectively share the same set of values may feel more united and motivated when working towards a business’s goals and objectives. Meta analysis by Kristof-Brown also found that employees who relate to their company culture are satisfied in their role.

One of Cognisess’ clients recently used our culture fit tool to ensure they recruited people who would fit into their very distinctive culture.  

Our analysis uncovered that the company’s employees demonstrated a high level of emotional intelligence. This is a useful attribute to collectively possess in regards to mental health. This ability allows them to be aware of how they are feeling and know when they need to take a break, which can prevent them from burnout. It also assists them in identifying when others are struggling, which contributes to a supportive work environment. However, it is possible to increase your emotional intelligence, encouraging your employees to do this may help them manage their wellbeing, creating an overall positive work environment.  

For more information on how we apply this feature of Cognisess Pro, our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer explains the process on a video:

Forewarned is forearmed

Burnout and poor mental health clearly can affect people, but it also affects organisations. Using Predictive Analytics tools for your People can help your organisation operate in a more responsible and efficient business environment whilst also supporting employees to deliver optimum performance and fulfill their true potential. If you would like to find out more about Predictive Analytics for People, book a demo today.

The AI will see you now… why we should trust Computer Vision

On the whole, humans are generally good at identifying emotions, but this mostly happens at an unconscious level and it isn’t always a reliable tool, particularly when it may involve having to make decisions based on this interpretation. According to psychology professor, Lisa Feldman Barrett our emotions are the brain’s method of understanding the body’s raw data. But sometimes the same sensations can be interpreted differently depending on external events. For example, a queasy stomach could be interpreted as nervousness before a job interview or excitement for an upcoming holiday.

We are reactive to the world around us. For example, if a HR professional has a disagreement with a colleague or is experiencing personal issues outside the workplace, they may bring these negative emotions into interviewing a candidate for a job. This may affect our perception of a candidate and the hiring decision.

Although we can’t change these factors, we can prevent them from influencing the recruitment process to ensure it is fair, consistent and transparent. As we enter the fourth industrial revolution and are increasingly driven by new technology, AI and Computer Vision will be on hand to assist humans in making data-led decisions that are consistently accurate and free of bias; attributes which will become increasingly important in a fast moving and compliant world.

What is Computer Vision?

Computer Vision acts as the eyes of an AI. This technology can visually process the world around them and they can be programmed to analyse the information it collects. For example, Computer Vision is used as part of our video analysis tool. The technology analyses each candidate’s facial expressions and micro-expressions from their video interview. Micro-expressions are facial movements that happen – even before we are consciously aware of making them. This means Computer Vision is able to detect a candidate’s true emotion at that moment, not what they may like to present to an interview panel.

This tool can be used to recruit across all industries. However, it is especially useful in customer focused or sales roles where ‘reading people’ or presenting yourself positively or empathetically is required. Computer Vision can observe how easy a person is to talk to, and how approachable they will be to customers – even under pressure.

Why should we trust machines to assess human behaviour?

Together, AI and Computer Vision are able to accurately repeat the same process over and over again. Our video analysis tool has analysed over 1.4 billion facial expressions with a 97% accuracy rate. This is an invaluable tool for humans and can be used to gain advantage particularly in dealing with scale or distance. Computer Vision doesn’t experience a post-lunchtime dip,  which is when a person feels drowsy for a few hours whilst their body digests their food.  Equally the AI doesn’t have a ‘bad day’ through fatigue which would impair their overall cognitive performance. It can process thousands of job applications and identify the top candidates, regardless of what time of day it is. This enables a recruiter to stay focused on putting their attention and expertise on the applicants that have relevant skills and abilities for the role.

As AI and Computer Vision aren’t human, they have the capacity to be completely objective (read our blog on unconscious bias in humans here). Our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, revealed to Information Age that “AI doesn’t have to understand its own unconscious bias, because it has none. AI does not need diversity and inclusion training. It’s incapable of taking an instant dislike to someone, secretly wondering whether someone’s planning on starting a family, or hiring someone who’s pleasingly similar to them.” As there isn’t any human involvement in the analysis process it supports a less bias hiring decision. Our Computer Vision isn’t programmed to see race, age or gender – it is purely assessing what an applicant is non-verbally communicating. This becomes a vital tool when companies are pursuing policies of inclusion, diversity and fairness.

Making fast and accurate hiring decisions for every candidate – every time

Our clients using our video analysis tool will be able to give each applicant a fair chance, regardless of how large their applicant pool is.

Each candidate records themselves answering a number of key questions that have been set by the company. Computer Vision analyses each video interview frame by frame, searching for positivity and expressiveness, both of which are measures of genuine passion. ​The tool is a hundred times faster and accurate than any human assessment. As a result, a business is able to identify top talent from their entire applicant pool.

Working with Computer Vision supports hiring decisions, HR professionals are able to draw conclusions from their own expertise when finally ‘meeting’ each candidate, but also review the Computer Vision comprehensive analysis on them alongside the other Cognisess assessments that analyse Job Fit, Culture Fit and Team Fit.  

Recently, we have studied the performance of the video analysis tool with our client, AB InBev – the world’s leading brewer. Focusing on the candidates who had successfully passed their video interview stage, we uncovered a statistically significant relationship between an internal assessor’s high rating of a candidate and a good positivity and expressiveness score. This further shows how accurate this technology can be and how it can be applied to create a fair and transparent recruitment process were any areas of unconscious bias can be corrected as a helpful correction mechanism to support HR professionals avoid bias.

Make every day a good decision day

Everyone of us within a workforce will have good and bad days, it is an inherent part of being human, after all. But in this new age of technology, AI and Computer Vision will ensure those occasion bad days doesn’t turn into bad hiring and bad decision days. If you would like to find out more about how our video analysis tool or Computer Vision can transform your recruitment process, book a FREE demo today with our expert team.    

Group of people sat in a sofa

Why humans aren’t redundant yet

It has been widely established that AI and Automation will transform the workplace and our economy. However, it will not only enhance a businesses technological processes but the people within it too.

Machines and algorithms are expected to create 133 million new roles but will replace 75 million positions by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum. But the question is, what type of roles is it creating and displacing? And what skills will these roles need?

Human connection can’t be automated

A few weeks ago CIPD released the ‘People and machines: from hype to reality’ report. It revealed that professional and higher technical staff are one of the most likely fields to be affected by AI and automation at 28%. In contrast, sales and service occupations are the least likely to be impacted at 5%. Although machines are more proficient in processing and understanding large amounts of data, they can’t replace human connection. For example, in sales positions, it takes that human connection to build a rapport with a customer and problem-solve any complaints or issues they are having. The ability to communicate, problem-solve, manage your time and stay motivated – widely known as soft skills.

Interestingly this shift is also reflected in the job market. According to Harvard University, the need for STEM-related roles greatly increased between 1989 and 2000 on the global jobs market but hasn’t significantly grown since. But positions in the creative industries, a sector which is rich in soft skills, increased in demand by 20% between 2011 and 2016. These statistics reveal a future where the need for soft skills in the workforce will become increasingly important.

What are the most valued soft skills?

At the beginning of the year, LinkedIn uncovered the skills companies will need most in 2019, and at the top of that list was creativity. We are about the enter the fourth industrial revolution, companies will need creatives to lead them into the future to create new ideas and methods of working alongside new technology such as AI.

The World Economic Forum also found that 90% of top performers at work also have high emotional intelligence. According to Psychologist Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is defined by five core components:

  • Self-awareness – an understanding of your own emotions and how they could affect others.
  • Self-regulation – this is the ability to think before you react to a situation and the degree you are able to control your moods and impulses.
  • Internal motivation – rather than pursuing a goal for a reward, you are motivated to achieve for personal reasons, for instance, personal development.
  • Empathy – you are able to recognise and understand other people’s motivations.
  • Social skills – you can build a network and manage relationships.

This skill is essential for successfully managing a team, communicating with colleagues or customers. The CIPD report at the beginning of this article showed that the least affected roles will be people focused. This ability will be key for employees who want to successfully conduct themselves in the workplace.

How can businesses measure emotional intelligence and creativity in their applicants?

Cognisess Pro can measure a variety of soft skills through our scientifically backed assessments, including emotional intelligence and creativity. Allowing companies to hire a future-ready workforce.

We achieve this using the Cognisess’ Baseline Assessments along with our Team Fit tool. Creativity is measured by:

  • A person’s openness to experience. If an applicant isn’t willing to try new things, they are unlikely to think outside the box

  • Conscientiousness. For a person to be highly creative this needs to be an average score. An individual needs to commit to a plan, but not so rigidly that they don’t attempt a different method that could work better.   

  • Risk taking. This also needs to be an average or just above average score. They need to be confident enough to take a calculated risk in order to pursue an innovative idea, but simultaneously not constantly take risks.

As a result of this, companies are able to create teams which have a strong representation in terms of both creative skills and aptitudes – but also ensuring the team composition has a high level of Psychological Safety. Psychological Safety is directly related to someone’s emotional intelligence and can be identified as a part of our Team Fit tool. Our expert analytics team have identified that team members who have higher emotional intelligence tend to also have a higher level of Psychological Safety. This means they feel more comfortable speaking their mind in potentially difficult or stressful situations. When considering this in terms of innovation and creativity, it becomes a vital skill for a person to have. As there is nothing gained for the company from someone who is extremely creative at work, yet lacks the confidence to share their ideas with the rest of their team.

How to stay relevant in a fast-changing world

From work carried out with a variety of companies over the past 2 years, Cognisess has identified that understanding the creative composition of a team is a very important factor for companies looking to be innovative.  

Many current thinking and methods will quickly become outdated and irrelevant to a fast-changing and increasingly automated world. Creativity and problem-solving are hugely important for keeping the focus and energy of an organisation moving forward helping to innovate their processes and systems through the coming transformational years  Without this ability to be more fluidly creative and adaptable, organisations will be held back or simply may become redundant in the market. Cognisess has recognised that being able to accurately identify and recruit the talent who can bring creativity and innovation, ill enable Talent Managers within HR to make better decisions about the people and teams who should be empowered as the trendsetters versus those are more likely to conform to or defend the outdated modes of thinking.

Creativity – in the right team environment – is becoming essential to future proof organisations. It elevates the organisation’s strength in producing ideas and innovation through the free trade of ideas and accelerate the uptake of innovation throughout the organisation and help to cultivate a positive culture of freely shared ideas and possibilities. Companies can then reap the rewards of a future-oriented culture that is constantly and confidently implementing new ways to improve the contribution and progression of the business for employees, management, customers and shareholders alike.

Become future ready and recruit the soft skills every company will need in the age of automation. If you would like to learn more about assessing creativity, emotional intelligence or our Team Fit tool, book a demo with our expert team.

Can you confidently hire a candidate, knowing they will fit into your culture?

It is widely accepted that a strong and cohesive company culture is the key to success. Forbes reported that businesses with strong cultures had a 4x increase in revenue growth and 96% of HR leaders are now prioritising cultural fit, according to a survey by ThriveMap. Yet, just over three-quarters (77%) of companies admitted to using gut feeling when assessing candidates for roles.

“For decades the HR hiring manager was the best People Analytics capability companies had. They worked without any data backup, operated based on a gut feeling and what had come before. Gut feeling is brilliant but it is the imperfect and human equivalent of processing lots of data and coming to a conclusion. Except….if that hiring manager has a bad day it will affect who’s going to get hired.” Our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, reveals. Until recently there weren’t any People Analytics platforms like Cognisess Pro which could consistently, reliably and scientifically identify candidates whose values would match a company’s culture. Recruiting solely on gut feeling can be risky, with no concrete data to backup hiring decisions it can be hard to ensure which new hires would enrich the cultural fabric of an organisation – rather than dilute or disrupt it. With culture fit becoming such an important factor within HR performance, should companies be taking this gamble?

The disadvantages of hiring a poor cultural fit within a company  

  • Higher employee churn. If an employee’s values clash with the businesses culture, they may start seeking a new role elsewhere. A study by Columbia University uncovered that the likelihood of job turnover in companies with poor cultures is 48%, compared to businesses with a strong company culture (13%).
  • Reduced job performance. If an employee doesn’t feel comfortable in an organisation they won’t perform at their best. Meta analysis by Kristof-Brown found that employees who fit in with their company, coworkers and managers perform better in their job.
  • Employees are less engaged in their role. Gallup reported that 63% of employees aren’t engaged in their role. With disengaged employees costing U.S companies nearly $550 billion a year, this is a costly issue. In contrast, the meta analysis by Kristof-Brown also found that employees who relate to their company culture are satisfied in their role. Hiring people who will engage and thrive in a company culture will reduce costs long term.

How People Analytics is harnessing data to provide organisational and cultural insight

Until recently there have been limited tools for HR to match potential talent to their company’s prevailing culture and prevent an unsuitable organisational hire. Traditional testing methods, such as psychometric testing, give limited insight into whether an applicant would thrive or struggle in a company’s environment.

They also don’t factor in potentially different cultural dynamics across departments. These can be subtle, so they can be difficult to calibrate and quantify. But it is vital to identify and understand them, as an employee who thrives in one department may not necessarily fit into another. Factoring in these ‘subcultures’ will help companies make better hiring decisions.

Cognisess Pro’s Culture Fit tool is able to identify any potential cultural differences between departments, as well as the overarching company culture. For example, clients Knight Frank, the UK’s leading independent real estate consultancy, recently utilised this tool. Our People Analytics software was able to accurately distinguish the slight differences between their commercial and residential departments, such as comparing their task switching abilities, alongside analysing the dynamics their strong overall company culture.  

What is Culture Fit and how does it work?

Our Culture Fit tool is one of many specific talent assessment tools on our Cognisess Pro Platform. It is currently used by companies such as AB InBev, the world’s leading brewer, to measure and benchmark the cultural values of their organisation throughout the world. This provides internal insights that can inform HR hiring decisions as we as other organisation design tasks.  

Firstly, existing employees complete our Culture Fit survey on our platform. This allows us to map how an organisation’s cultural values are internally understood and lived. These results provide a benchmark for our science team who analyse this survey data and then build a specialised set of culture assessments for the company –  this is used during the recruitment process to assess applicants against the core values identified in the employee’s survey results. It is worth stressing that the cultural profile created for a client is bespoke to the culture of their organisation. It is not based on a generalised or standardised set of cultural norms. This assessment set is used alongside our other cognitive, emotional intelligence and personality assessments in the recruitment process – as may be relevant to particular functions or job roles. As a result of applying this tool, AB InBev was not only able to identify whether a candidate was suitable for a specific role but had a clear insight into the probability of them thriving in their unique company culture.

For more information watch our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, explaining the tool.

There are many disadvantages of hiring candidates who are a poor culture fit for a company. But, by using our Culture Fit tool recruiters can identify the strongest culture fits in the candidate pool. If you would like to try our Culture Fit tool book a FREE demo today.   

Future Leaders: How they will transform leadership and how to spot and recruit them

Cognisess takes a look at an emerging trend in People Analytics using data and insights gained from analysing some of our client’s high-profile, global graduate recruitment schemes.

It is predicted that 50% of roles today will not exist by 2025. We will need strong leaders to guide employees through today’s rapidly changing workplace. But what will a future leader look like? How can companies identify these leaders and what skills will they need?

Key skills all future leaders will need

Adaptability  

The workplace is ever changing. Leaders will need to embrace this change to thrive. It is not only technology that is driving this change. In the future, there will be a shift in leadership style, moving away from an egocentric and hierarchical management style to focus on nurturing employees to be active and valued contributors. Instead of the leader telling their teams what they need, it will become more of an open dialogue between management and employees. This will create an environment were people and development are at the heart of the workplace. As a talent management platform, we are excited about this prospect and look forward to welcoming more organisations onto our People Analytics software.

High Emotional Intelligence

AI can process data more efficiently than humans, but there are still skills we are stronger in. A Korn Ferry study found human talent is 2.33 times more valuable compared to assets like technology. A high emotional intelligence allows future leaders to be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses as well as their teams. This means the manager can troubleshoot ways to improve themselves as well as their team – creating the strongest team possible.

This ability will be supported by AI. For example, although a manager can identify why a team may not be working well together, with Cognisess Team Fit they are able to view data on employees talents and see how dynamic the group is through a series of graphs. This data supports a leaders ‘gut feeling’ with physical results they can present to colleagues.

Comfortable with embracing and leading innovation

In the future, AI and humans will work together to optimise the workplace. A leader will need to understand the new challenges and opportunities this presents – for example data management and skill building. Managers need to be open to not only accepting new technology but also managing the relationship between employees and AI. There will be workers who aren’t as comfortable with the change as others – a high performing future leader will support these people to adapt and become confident with working with technology. This will create a united and technologically minded workforce.

To stay ahead of the curve, leaders will need to keep updated on the new tools and assessments that can enhance their organisation before their competitors. By signing up to our newsletter you will hear about our products, company updates and industry news without having to leave your inbox. Sign up on our blog page.

How diverse will future leaders need to be?

The number of women the workforce is increasing and companies are continuously trying to become more inclusive of gender, race and age. There are also a number of benefits to having a diverse workforce, according to McKinsey racially and ethnically diverse companies outperform industry norms by 35%.

However, only 4% of CEOs worldwide are women according to Deloitte’s Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective. But the report also uncovered that businesses who have females in top leadership positions have almost double the number of women on their board. Gender diverse boards are also more likely to hire a female board chair or CEO. It seems that diversity has a multiplying effect, according to this Parliament UK report the female employment rate is at its highest since records began (71%). The current workforce is becoming more diverse than ever. In the future, females in today’s workforce will hopefully move into management positions, increasing diversity within leadership roles.


Equally, we will also need to recruit talent from all different walks of life regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, country of origin or educational background. Diversity of thinking and approach in the workplace is critical to ensure new ideas and solutions are free flowing. The danger of recruiting the same type of candidate from the same background is that you only ever get the same answers and consensus. Outside the box thinking really does come from outside of the box!

How are companies preparing for the future now?

The businesses who are adopting AI and People Analytics now are starting to get ahead of the curve. People Analytics help you to identify the attributes needed now and for the future to help develop a mobile and agile workforce for today and tomorrow.

At Cognisess we have supported a wide range of clients with their graduate programmes, from hotel giants (IHG) to the world’s largest brewer (AB InBev). These graduate programmes are developing the leadership talent of tomorrow. Although there will be universal leader traits for the future regardless of the sector (as discussed earlier on in this article), we also recognise that leaders may look different in every organisation depending on the sector or culture. For instance, a hotel manager needs to be able to work well under time pressure when solving customers queries in a fast paced hospitality environment. Whereas this would be an advantage as an AB InBev leader, but not essential.

What is the process?

Taking AB InBev’s graduate programme as an example, we initially assessed a current cohort of AB InBev’s top talent who are currently on the graduate scheme. Additionally, AB InBev wanted graduates who fitted into their strong company culture. The organisation’s most loyal employees also completed assessments on Cognisess Pro. The data collected included personality traits, emotional intelligence and cognitive abilities. The combined assessment results enabled Cognisess to uncover characteristics that correlate to success in the role and the company. Analysing their current high performers not only helps to understand the qualities that make them so successful – but informs which applicants to recruit to ensure a high performing future workforce.

Our expert team then constructed a detailed job profile based on the collected characteristics. This became the benchmark to assess the graduate recruits on Cognisess Pro. The applicants completed a series of cognitive, emotional and personality based assessments. The process resulted in targeted applicant recommendations, increasing the chance of successful hires for AB InBev. Recruiting these talented graduates who share the same values as the company and possess the qualities to lead will ensure a more efficient organisation, with the right people in those leadership roles.

Adapting to an ever-changing workforce, high emotional intelligence and being comfortable to embrace a new working relationship with AI are some of the universal traits a future leader will need. At Cognisess, we are supporting many leading companies to invest in identifying the attributes they need for future leadership and recruiting the best talent. Book a free demo of Cognisess Pro today to see how the most advanced People Analytics and AI Assessment Platform on the market today can help your organisation find the leaders of tomorrow.

We’re all human, so we can’t help our unconscious bias but AI can help reduce it in the recruitment process

Humans unconsciously process 11 million pieces of information per second. In order to manage this mass of data, our brains have had to adapt by creating ‘shortcuts’ to help us make decisions. Without this, we would be paralysed into making no decisions or just random ones. But this approach adopted by our brain can lead to patterns of illogical thinking – this is called cognitive bias.  

It is thought there are at least 175 types of biases, this diagram allows you to explore all of them. But to keep things simple, we’ve grouped the biases into four types of typical hurdles the brain encounters every day:

  • Too much information – Our brain uses a few ‘shortcuts’ to condense information. A key aspect of this is humans are drawn to details that support their existing beliefs. An example of this was uncovered in a research paper by Harvard Business School. They discovered employers aren’t prejudiced against women because of their gender, but because they have the perception that men perform better in certain tasks.
  • Lack of information – In contrast, when there isn’t enough information our brain fills in the gaps. This includes filling in characteristics of a person or a group from prior history or stereotypes. We also assume people we are familiar with are better than people we don’t know.
  • The need to act fast – When we need to make a decision quickly we tend to choose the option that is the least risky to avoid mistakes and preserve our status in a group.   
  • What should we remember? In a world packed with information, our brains need to decide which elements will prove useful in the future. Our minds have created a few methods to enhance storage space, for example, the brain prefers generalisations over specifics because they take up less space.

How can bias affect the recruitment process?

Unfortunately, we can’t eliminate these biases and they can sometimes seep into the recruitment process. In a recent study, researchers sent a number of CVs to businesses. These applicants had similar levels of experience, the only aspect which differed were their names – the applicants either had stereotypical black, Latino or white names. They also asked a group of people to physically hand in their CV at a number of companies, again, they each shared similar qualifications but were different ethnicities. The researchers found that white applicants received 36% more callbacks than African Americans and 24% more than Latinos. The study also uncovered that racism in hiring hasn’t changed since 1989. Although we all want to ensure a recruitment process is as fair as possible and we may not intentionally be applying bias, our brain is automatically applying these bias ‘shortcuts’ to make decisions quickly.

Being unconsciously biased is an inherent part of being human – even if we try to avoid it or correct ourselves. So, once we realise we can be prone to unconscious bias despite our best efforts, we should be turning to AI as a helpful tool to help keep us compliant and open up the recruitment process.

How can AI transform the recruitment process?

Our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, revealed to Information Age that “AI doesn’t have to understand its own unconscious bias, because it has none. AI does not need diversity and inclusion training. It’s incapable of taking an instant dislike to someone, secretly wondering whether someone’s planning on starting a family, or hiring someone who’s pleasingly similar to them.

As AI isn’t human it has the capacity to be completely objective. This can be used as a tool to help HR create a fairer recruitment process. For instance, Cognisess Pro, our market-leading recruitment platform driven by AI, makes it optional for candidates to disclose age, gender, race or the schools they went to and can also hide this information from assessors too. More significantly, this personal information is never taken into account for Cognisess assessments – our system is mostly interested in assessing how your brain works. This way recruiters can focus purely on what matters when hiring an applicant. This is called blind recruitment and it provides decision makers with an in-depth understanding of a candidate’s suitability for the role, regardless of background, age, gender or ethnicity to create an environment for recruiters to make objective and well-informed decisions about a candidates potential.

The Cognisess platform is data-driven with over 50 assessments to choose from and measures over 120 human attributes. The insights created from this data has been proven to assist companies like AB InBev, CIL and IHG  make better informed and fewer bias decisions about recruitment and assessments. For example, hotel giant IHG has recently ensured a gender equality of 93.75% through their recruitment process using Cognisess Pro, enabling a fairer and more accurate approach to talent management compared to their more traditional recruitment processes.

Attract more talent, increase your diversity

There are many benefits of using an AI recruiting platform like Cognisess Pro. Using this software provides an opportunity to increase diversity in a company’s workforce. A more diverse team can equate to a more profitable company, a McKinsey report uncovered that “Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” It can also attract more talent to apply for a company with 67% of applicants wanting to join a diverse team.

As our brains have over 175 individual biases, it can be hard to be sure we are making a totally objective hiring decision. It makes sense to use AI as a tool to facilitate a fairer and more efficient process to help us accurately hire the best person for the role – every time. It is incorporating the best of both worlds, a recruiter’s years of experience with AI’s objective stance. Adopting AI in HR has never been easier. Our team of People Analytics experts can guide you through the first steps of adding AI to your HR processes. If you would like to find out more please get in contract or book a FREE demo of Cognisess Pro, the most advanced People Analytics and AI Assessment Platform on the market today.

Product focus: What is Cognisess Team Fit and why are more and more clients using it?

If a company is orientated towards achieving high performance and a positive work environment, it is also important to have the right mix of people in their teams. At Cognisess we have developed Cognisess Team Fit: a tool to help organisations create diverse and high performing teams.

Whilst we all work well on our own a lot of the time, and with more and more people choosing to work remotely – it does not negate the fact that we are all still part of a larger team and don’t in fact work in isolation. Therefore it is crucial to understand the working dynamics of the team we are part of, and how communication and information processing styles are mirrored and opposed positively or negatively within any team environment.

What is Cognisess Team Fit?

Cognisess Team Fit is a specific feature of Cognisess Pro’s assessment platform. It collates and maps an individual’s results via a user-friendly graph against the attributes of others in any defined team or group.  It is used primarily by managers to observe the dynamics within their teams in order to analyse and compare what ‘good team performance’ looks like. The data is divided into two disciplines:

  • Social cohesion – this shows us how people prefer to work and communicate. Attributes such as collaboration, leadership, people skills and psychological safety are measured by the tool to give us an insight into any team.
  • Cognitive fit – this reveals how individuals make sense of the world around them. Traits measured include: critical thinking, how result focused they are, how adaptable the team can be and how creative and innovative they are. This allows us to understand the group’s dynamics in terms of prevalent thinking and decision-making styles.

One of the key games used for Cognisess Team Fit is our Lens Pro personality assessment that is based on psychology’s ‘Big Five’ personality factors. This tool incorporates large amounts of research that stems both from our own data and numerous studies around teams by very well respected Google research groups, Harvard Business School and many others.

Dr Boris Altemeyer, our Chief Scientific Officer, notes that: “We do not have a prescriptive ‘best fit’ for a team. Instead, we encourage the users to compare the abilities and preferences against other team members, as well as the overall population norms, to gather intelligence on what makes each person uniquely suited to their role in the team. In overall terms, we are not looking for a conformity mindset in a team. Diversity and balance are key factors to achieve in putting together a high performing team. And these are not that obvious to decipher in standard assessments”

The benefits: save time, become more productive

Team composition can greatly impact on performance. A Bandran Hall Group survey reported that 72% of all organisations viewed team performance as having a positive effect on overall productivity. Therefore, Cognisess Team Fit can support managers with the evaluation of high performing teams. For instance, if a sales manager notices one of her teams is not working well together she can use the Team Fit feature to diagnose the imbalance and apply an informed solution.

Our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, comments that: “Companies who use Team Fit are generally interested in understanding what makes a particular team great in the first place at performing their project related tasks. Those team dynamics can vary greatly whether we are talking about a project team, a sales team, an account team or an innovation team. Once the composition of each of these is understood, then it is easier to focus on making the correct decision when adding a new person to that team or starting a new team”.

Diversity is strength in depth

A strong team will collectively have a varied skill set, for instance, if one team member’s weakness is creativity it will be another’s area of expertise. If the team’s abilities are too similar problems may start to occur. For example, if all these employees have a low leadership score there wouldn’t be a clear leader and no individual will be prepared to take charge of the group.

With this innovative feature available, managers are more able to reveal how an individual will fit into an existing team dynamic. This is ideal for a HR manager wanting to see how a new recruit will fit into a team or deciding which office to transfer an account manager to. This also saves time, as the team and individual don’t need to meet for the HR manager to understand whether a person would fit well into that team. This not only increases resource efficiency for managers, but also prevents any loss in productivity derived from the wrong individuals working together.

Based on our analysis of self-reports from employees we have observed that teams that have gone through a guided Cognisess Team Fit exercise tend to communicate in a better, and more constructive way. This is due to individuals gaining a shared understanding and insight into how their fellow team members process and express information. Such insight and knowledge enables teams to come together in a more positive and supportive way,

Creating stronger teams for our clients and partners

Cognisess Team Fit has been used very successfully by many of our clients including the world’s largest brewer, AB InBev, and by specialist executive search consultants, Perpetual Insights.

Dr Boris Altemeyer has helped many of our clients and partners enhance their understanding of teams using the tool  “A particular example that has stuck with me was a high profile team who had been working together in high pressured corporate environments for a long time. When first shown the Cognisess Team Fit results, the team burst out in heartfelt laughter and commented on how this ‘explained it all’. They could sense the character and behavioural preferences that were at play and they had already had a ‘gut feeling’ about, but had never been able to verbalise these in a constructive or meaningful way. It was overall a very positive experience that brought the team closer together and encouraged them to be more open in their communication. It also highlighted that some of their colleagues are naturally more aligned to particular business areas, and therefore resource-allocation can be made in a much more ‘naturally-fitting’ way.”

Cognisess Team Fit is a scientifically backed solution designed to get the best out of your organisations’ teams. It is a tool that helps a manager intricately understand an individual’s abilities and how they can impact on the wider team. Cognisess Team Fit is one part of Cognisess Pro, the most advanced People Analytics and Assessment Platform on the market today. To try Cognisess Team Fit or experience any of Cognisess Pro’s innovative features – contact us for a FREE demo today.

3 Key Questions to Consider Before Beginning Your People Analytics Journey

Cognisess’ Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer answers three key questions addressing what companies who are thinking about embracing People Analytics need to consider. The insight was based on our recent case study project with hotel giant IHG.

Why should companies put their faith in People Analytics?

For decades the HR hiring manager was the best people analytics capability companies had. They worked without any data backup, operated based on a gut feeling and what had come before. Gut feeling is brilliant but it is the imperfect and human equivalent of processing lots of data and coming to a conclusion. Except….if that hiring manager has a bad day it will affect who’s going to get hired and if they leave their job that data model leaves the company with them.


Cognisess’ Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer

As a Talent Management platform, Cognisess brings a systematic approach which can learn and analyse a company’s people preferences and understand what truly makes someone great in a job role, in a team or in that culture – which is what hiring managers are trying to internalise.  Once the machine has learnt, it is able to be totally objective and it doesn’t have a bad day! If the company changes direction or focus – it doesn’t matter, the AI is much more flexible and adaptable than humans will ever be. The beauty of Cognisess is that we can take the best of what makes us humans human and equip HR to make better decisions backed with data and science. That makes for a really exciting and fulfilling future for HR, they will be able to better demonstrate and validate the value of its human capital for the whole organisation and key decision makers.

Our client IHG was really receptive to using People Analytics. They wanted to source the right people who would predictably stay with them, develop in their roles and move them forward within the organisation where their talents were best suited. But there was also a time and resource pressure which left little room for error or waste. Cognisess Pro was able to provide for these competing pressures.

Prior to using People Analytics, what do companies need to do to prepare for it?

Be open-minded. The data companies have may be valuable to the process – or they may need to set up a new method to collect and collate that data over time. People Analytics isn’t a silver bullet that businesses can implement instantly and become 50% more efficient – it’s an ongoing, organic journey. Using data to inform your decision making is not a quick-fix, but about adopting a new mindset. The technology opens up a lot of questions and insights, which can be interesting and inspiring, they are part of kick-starting the process and draw the business’ attention towards just how powerful People Analytics can be.

This was something we saw in IHG’s Future Leaders programme. From the beginning of the project there was a world of information that was already available, but not as actionable data. This was absolutely invaluable for us. The data covered previous cohorts of candidates who not only passed the assessment centre, but were now operating in management positions. The assessment centre results from these brilliant high performers were used to benchmark what ‘good’ looks like. Additionally, we analysed the people who received really good reviews from their supervisors and had made career progress within IHG. This is usually dormant or inactive data that sits somewhere in an HR system but no one looks at – but this is the kind of information that the machine loves! People Analytics recognises that one person was promoted quicker than another and therefore they must be demonstrating some qualities which make them better.

Cognisess Pro’s clients are from a wide range of sectors. Does each sector present different needs for People Analytics?  

We learn an incredible amount from all our clients, regardless of which sector. In fact, it helps to have data sets constructed across many sectors and industries. A university professor half jokingly said we are becoming proxy experts in so many industries. For instance, we have gained an understanding of what best looks like in the hospitality industry and the automotive sector – but it doesn’t mean we intend to run a hotel or build a car. Our focus is very much on understanding people, behaviour and potential. The more understanding we have, the better we can design the system with the widest user experience at the heart of it. We are also very focused on making very complex data accessible, which helps clients make the very best people and talent decisions for them.

If we look at very different clients like IHG and Vauxhall, their applicant journeys are very divergent. IHG’s candidates will fine tune their applications and apply to a select few graduate programmes – as there’s not many around. Vauxhall applicants are more likely to consider hundreds of sector openings. They aren’t likely to complete a 35-minute application when competitors only want them to answer a few questions. Vauxhall’s user journey is a lot quicker than IHG’s. With IHG we designed a more ‘Intercontinental Hotels’ experience for the candidate, as they want to spend more time on their application.

We aim to have a successful and frictionless journey for all applicants whilst ensuring we get the right amount of data for each client. You can only do that if you can draw your experience from as many sectors as possible, we look forward to adding many more sectors to build our reach and understanding. I am confident that whichever sector we serve we will be able to grasp the minute variants and dynamics that are at play there, we will help deliver People Analytics as a driver for transformation and performance for those clients.

For more insight, download our recent case study with global hotel giant IHG.

products predictive people analytics cognisess pro

Hotel Giant IHG gained a 97% positive applicant experience using predictive people analytics – Can this along with other benefits be easily achieved by other companies?

Cognisess’ Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, explores the opportunities and challenges for businesses looking towards people analytics as a driver for HR transformation. He uses added insight from our recent case study with hotel giant IHG who recently applied AI in HR with Cognisess. 

In your opinion, what element of the IHG case study was particularly successful?

“On the second year of using Cognisess Pro for their Future Leaders fast-track recruitment programme, we used predictive analytics to screen the potential of candidates. Their cognitive and emotional intelligence scores assessed how an individual would perform in the assessment process. This avoided the need for applicants to undertake the usual case study module on day 2 of the assessment centre. This measure proved to be over 95% accurate in anticipating their rating based on assessor feedback. IHG could view the candidate’s predicted results without the applicants physically completing the required business case study. This meant IHG could eliminate the second day of the assessment centre without losing data to feed into the decision process, which resulted in a 50% reduction in assessment centre time and cost. This was a great example of doing something which was an immediate ‘quick win’.”

Why is the IHG Future Leaders programme so successful and can this success with people analytics be replicated with every company?

“First and foremost using people analytics helped IHG internally in terms of their own efficiency and effectiveness. They can now be confident about employing the right people and spend more of their valuable time with the right candidate, rather than spending that time on applicants that won’t go very far. These people may be brilliant people in their own right – but not for this particular role. This process cuts out a lot of the time wasting and guessing.

IHG was able to ‘white label’ the process using our platform, which meant everything looked and felt like IHG – allowing them to stay very true to their employer brand. This was one of the successful elements of the project. Candidates didn’t feel like they were in a third party system, as it’s all integrated. We got very good feedback from the candidates, with 97% of the applicants rating the process as positive even if they weren’t successful. The candidates feel appreciated because IHG wants to discover their potential, instead of assessing whether they can write a convincing CV – which in most cases just shows how good you are at writing CV’s.

A project isn’t going to be successful if an unsuccessful candidate has a bad experience – it should be a great experience whether they are successful or not. A bad applicant experience isn’t just a lost employee, but a lost customer. It can ultimately damage the employer’s brand.

I believe this approach can be replicated for other companies. Many of our clients use the Cognisess platform in different ways. Because businesses know their target audience well, Cognisess Pro can adjust the application process to suit the type of candidate who applies. For example, if the target applicant audience is likely to be time poor or not very tech savvy, the assessment process can be adjusted to work on their terms. This generates a positive buy-in and participation, resulting in high completion levels from the start and a positive experience for all. But a positive experience at IHG isn’t the same as AB InBev or Vauxhall, it needs to be congruent with what is expected of the brand and the nature of the role. The days of ‘one size fits all’ recruitment is over.”

It seems in order to find IHG’s ideal group of people for the Future Leaders programme they needed to find out more about their existing current cohort – how is this an unexpected bonus for companies like IHG?

“It is a very unexpected and welcome bonus. It is to do with the data agility; the application of predictive analytics, the number of different data points, the accuracy of prediction and where we build a benchmark from.

Clients are often surprised that we want to benchmark their existing people when looking for new people, which means we need to access more data from them than they would usually expect. We could take an educated guess about what ‘a good performer’ looks like in each organisation – but it’s never going to be as accurate as using actual data sets from existing teams and applying predictive analytics to those.

Additionally, that data doesn’t just need to be used solely for the benchmarking process. What some of our clients realise is they can use this information for personal development plans. They can identify that an employee could be a fantastic match for a promotion, perhaps not within their direct line of work but in another function – perhaps in sales or marketing. HR can rejig a career plan to ensure an employee makes the most out of their natural abilities. This is a real bonus for companies managing their talent pools and can be undertaken with not that much data.”

How easy was it for IHG to learn and operate Cognisess Pro?

“Our predictive analytics platform is easy to operate. Administrators can quickly understand how to use the analytics dashboard or manage user registration. We have deliberately designed the platform so administrators don’t need a statistics degree to use it.

For IHG we built some bespoke job profilers based on their current high performing employees, which allows recruiters to measure how good an applicant would be in a specific role. IHG’s administrators could easily analyse how good a candidate was compared to the 600 other applicants.

The more challenging aspect is understanding the data model that is behind Cognisess Pro. A company doesn’t need to understand this to use the platform and produce immediate results. However, once a company does start down the path of people analytics – they want to know more. We are able to provide training sessions if individuals within HR want to develop their data and analytical skills. Essentially if you really want to understand people, then understanding data is a necessary skill which HR will need to develop in the future. It also helps to have large datasets and applicant pools of IHG’s size and scale. AI and machine learning feast on bigger data sets, with more data they can make more informed and complete insights.”

How did it support decision making for IHG?

“Although IHG had a developed assessment framework prior to using Cognisess Pro, it was very time intensive. The feedback we got from IHG’s HR managers was that Cognisess Pro saved them time. Instead of taking several hours out of a busy HR director’s week to interview and individually test candidates, they were able to rely on Cognisess Pro’s video interview feature. This allows candidates to record their video interviews remotely whilst Deep LearnTM, Cognisess’ analytics engine, scores them.  

It made the overall process a lot smoother. At the end of each IHG assessment centre day, the assessors have 1 hour to decide which candidates to give offers to. After they’d decided amongst themselves, they bring the candidate’s Cognisess Pro results up on the screen. This objective data shows them how they fared throughout the whole process in terms of their video scores, personality scores, emotional wellbeing and cognitive scores. This allows the assessors to feel confident that what they saw matched the framework, the data and analytics backs them up. We never use this data to prompt assessors because we don’t want to suggest any self-fulfilling prophecy of ‘this is what the computer said – you must therefore agree.’ It works best when a person comes to their own conclusion and then looks at the data to scientifically validate their opinion.

This is incredibly important for companies like IHG to ensure they are operating in a way which is transparent, fair and objective to eliminate the likelihood of any bias creeping into their selection processes or decision making. In the future all companies may need to demonstrate their talent decisions are compliant with equal opportunities, anti-discrimination policies and law. I believe that Cognisess is well ahead of that curve and can support companies to achieve those goals today.”

For more insight, download our recent case study with global hotel giant IHG.

People Analytics will change the way HR makes its decisions: but what’s driving this change?

Amongst marketing colleagues throughout any sector of business, it is inconceivable that customers would not have their fingerprints and footprints of their data analysed to the nth degree to better understand their value, buying behaviours, patterns of consumption and preferences.  CRM and other data driven disciplines like ASO, SEO, NPS are the life-blood of decision making in marketing. Sure hunches in marketing are still important – but only if they are backed up with data. So, why is it the case, that HR do not as yet apply the same rigour in better understand human potential and performance when making key hiring and appraisal decisions?

HR and People Management have always been an inherently human set of processes…. the clue is in the title. But are people necessarily the best judge of people? Traditionally HR, hiring managers and recruiters are trusted with the responsibility of using their experience to assess and select the best talent available in the market. Knowing what a ‘good hire’ looks like is part logic (reviewing CVs and experience track record) and part intuition (having a feel for whether the person will fit the organisation through interviews).  Both of these practices are fraught with inconsistencies, inaccuracies, subjectivity and even bias (unconscious or otherwise). But in fairness to the HR profession it has been very difficult, up until now, to replace the wisdom of experience with anything else.  But advances in Big Data, Cognitive NeuroScience, automation and machine learning – have heralded a new era of certainty and reliability in the form of People Analytics: the science of assessing people through data.

New Technology – New HR Solutions

Humans and AI are finally able to start working together to make better business decisions. In a recent McKinsey study, 47% of executives have embedded at least one AI capability into their business process.  However, HR remain the function which is least convinced of the benefits to their organisations in deploying AI in HR falling way behind operations, product development, service delivery and marketing and sales. Lack of coherent internal and external data sets, lack of skills to operate in an increasingly digital and data driven HR environment and lack of leadership to drive changes in traditional practices: are some of the main reasons cited for lack of uptake amongst businesses for People Analytics.

As a pioneer in bringing machine learning and People Analytics into the HR market over the past 5 years, here are a number of key benefits that Cognisess have delivered for those companies who have been early adopters for AI in HR.

Saving time – AI has an appetite for data. It is able to process applicants and identify the top candidates faster than an employee manually organising them. This means HR managers can spend more time preparing applicants for the role. Recently the world’s largest brewer, AB InBev, was able to interview their strongest candidates just 3 days after they’d sent in their application. Before employing Cognisess Pro’s people analytics, it took them 10 days. Cognisess saved them time, enabling them to hire the best talent faster.

Saving money – One bad hire can cost €45,000 (£39,294) in loss of productivity. Predictive analytics cannot foresee the future, but in can prevent unsuitable candidates from advancing through the process. It reveals not only the best talent –  but also those candidates who will fit or adapt into a specific company the culture, thrive in the role and therefore stay – thus saving companies a considerable amount of money and resource in the long term.

Increasing diversity, decreasing potential bias – Humans are naturally biased, and although we all do try to minimise it, our bias is always subconsciously present. In the past, there was no way to eliminate it from the recruitment process – predictive analytics and machine learning has completely transformed this. For instance, Cognisess Deep Learn ™ our AI engine, doesn’t take into account race, gender, age or background. Instead, it focuses purely on a person’s cognitive ability and emotional and social attributes to perform to any given role. This change allowed hotel giant, IHG, to eliminate potential bias by 93% from their recruitment process. This not only increases their prospect of developing a truly diversified workforce, but also demonstrates a clear commitment to fairness and inclusion for the employer brand.

How will it transform HR?

“Companies who adopt a predictive analytics system create a brighter future. They not only gain useful objective data on their applicants and employees, but they also gain insight about their talent pools. Managers can identify strengths and weaknesses – even uncovering hidden talents!” Comments Chris Butt, CEO of Cognisess. This approach encourages employees to develop their adaptability and skills whilst managers can better envision a person’s progression in a business by using AI to create complete picture about people and their potential.

As People Analytics become more affordable, accessible and user-friendly we will see many more companies recruit and appraise through a predictive analytics platform, whilst dialling back less reliable traditional recruitment methods. Forward thinking companies such as DFS and Knight Frank are already using our predictive analytics platform, Cognisess Pro to transform their approach. Cognisess Pro’s objective method of assessing talent works well to support and validate recruiters ‘gut instincts’ about a candidate with the data and evidence to back up why they are a good fit for the role. With Cognisess Pro, companies can constantly refine the attributes they are looking for whether it’s short term memory or emotional intelligence – or any other of 120 attributes the platform analyses.

The benefits for HR

Increased Efficiency

With 73% of applicants abandon job applications if they take longer than 15 minutes, there is clearly an art to retaining candidates until the end of an application. Cognisess Pro’s gamified assessments engage the candidate whilst gaining insights for the recruiter – 90% of applicants have a positive experience on the platform. “Our clients often see an increase in applications using our platform.” Reveals Chris Butt, CEO of Cognisess. A positive application experience also leaves candidates with a good first impression of a business.

Increased Diversity

With ethnically diverse teams outperforming non-diverse teams by 35%, it consciously pays to focusing on a person’s innate abilities and skills to identify what a balanced and diverse team fit looks like. Predictive analytics create a fairer process for all by removing subjectivity and bias. Typically recruiters are disposed to hiring the type of person they personally connect and recognise through experience or preference – rather than ability or potential.  Having a more objective approach greatly increases the chances of a building a more diverse and productive workforce.

Increased Speed to Hire

People analytics allows HR to recruit quickly cut through the volume of applicants and information to identify the best talent whilst creating a positive and fair process for every participant. Simultaneously the technology allows recruiters and managers to monitor and benchmark their existing employee talent pool to quickly spot opportunities to redeploy talent – rather than always reaching for an external solution.

Learn more about AI in HR

Cognisess is already supporting some of the world’s leading businesses to transform their approach to managing talent and potential. 

For more insight, download our recent case study with global hotel giant IHG.