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What is the difference between People Analytics and HR Analytics?

In a recent interview, I was asked to explain the difference between HR Analytics and People Analytics. I wanted to share my response so people new to the field could understand the history of these names and avoid confusion. Below was the reply I gave to the interviewer.

There is no difference between the two names. When HR Analytics began, the phrase “People Analytics” did not exist. HR Analytics was the original name for this field of study. I remember being one of handful of people performing HR Analytics quite a few years ago and we all used the term “HR Analytics.” Even back then, we were analyzing data using sources from HR and operations to solve business problems and to investigate the drivers of operational performance.

Years later, the phrase “People Analytics” came onto the scene and some people started saying that HR Analytics was about solving HR problems and People Analytics was about solving business problems. Since several of us were already using analytics to solve business problems many years ago under the field name of HR Analytics, the phase “People Analytics,” to us, is nothing more than a duplicate name for what we were already doing.

Regarding today's popularity of the terms, People Analytics, is slightly more popular in the U.S. if we use the quantity of Google searches in the past 5 years as a guide. In India, the term HR Analytics is overwhelmingly the more popular term. In fact, it’s about four times as popular as the term People Analytics. If we look at searches worldwide, both terms are used but HR Analytics is slightly more popular. Both names will survive for many years to come.

You will also hear other names for this field of analytics such as talent analytics, workforce analytics and human capital analytics. It’s all the same field of practice. Unfortunately, having many names has confused new practitioners and HR professionals who are trying to learn the topic.

As a side note, since I come from a background of engineering, supply chain and HR, it’s all just “analytics” to me. What I always say is that I don’t care what you wish to call it; I care about what you accomplish with it. That’s what the business leadership cares about too.

Bio

Tracey Smith is a recognized analytics expert, speaker and author. She is the President of Numerical Insights LLC, a boutique analytics firm addressing the needs of businesses large and small. If you would like to learn more, please visit www.numericalinsights.com or contact Tracey Smith through LinkedIn.