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How machine learning can impact employee retention, reduce overhead costs

When starting a new business, employers want make sure they are hiring the best talent for the jobs available. This means they need to offer the right benefits to convince these potential employees that their company is the favorable choice.

Courtney Guertin, co-founder and CTO of EaseCentral, says one of the best ways an employer can track whether an employee is in the right position is a method called machine learning. “Companies have lots of data and computers can be trained to learn from that data,” Guertin says. “One area in benefits is learning how to predict employee happiness or turnover rates.”

Guertin says machine learning is used in large data sets such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, but it can be applied to smaller data sets such as HR and employee happiness.

“Right now, there’s not an easy way for any small business to just plug into some platform and get any result they want,” Guertin says. “One of the things they can do is to identify the right candidate for application tracking.”

Guertin adds that an employer could use an application to read resumes and identify candidates for a position than when a human employer may have been searching for on their own.

“When employers go out to recruit, it is extremely time consuming and machine learning can assist in that,” he says. It can look beyond the schools the candidate has attended and if they have Java experience. Machine learning can find a pattern like “the people that have exceeded the best in the company, have diverse experiences or multiple hobbies,” he adds.

Increasing competition

John Wilson, enterprise portfolio manager for Benefitfocus, says employers need to offer a solid benefit set in order to attract strong employee candidates to a position in a small business.

“Small groups are competing with large groups for talent in the market and that talent pool is getting more and more competitive, which means small businesses need to provide a more competitive package of benefits,” Wilson says. “That typically includes health and now we are also seeing it include voluntary and lifestyle benefits.”

Voluntary and lifestyle benefits can include options such as pet insurance, ID theft protection and financial assistance products, Wilson says. He adds that benefits like these add to overhead cost, but partnering with the right benefit broker can help the employer receive the best deal when seeking a provider. This way the overhead expenditures can be more manageable.

“Most small business owners are not HR experts and often have to serve as the HR department,” Wilson says. “If carriers and vendors like Benefitfocus can provide software to make their lives easier, then they can go back to running their businesses.”

Jessica Moser, vice president of regional and small market strategy for MetLife, says making sure an employer markets the right benefits to their employee demographic will greatly increase their longevity.

“Losing employees when you’re a small business owner can be devastating,” Moser says. “We recognize that the small business owner is concerned with overhead cost that is associated with benefit programs but we believe if it’s a good program; it does help with the retention and also can translate into time savings which is money savings.”

Moser says if a business has a majority of employees who are millennials then altering their benefits package to suit the demographic may increase employee retention.

“If an employer is working with a benefits carrier who can solve those problems for you it is a valuable spend rather than a painful cost,” Moser says.

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