HR Analytics: Is it a New Fad?

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on May 17, 2014

We live in an age that could be termed as the “Age of Analytics”. Information itself is so cheap and abundant that we feel awash in digital data. The need of the hour suggests not more of data but better ways to make sense of the resources at disposal is required. Thereby we are able to garner a premium in the area of business analysis and interpretation especially in the area of human resources. HR is one area that has lagged behind in terms of analytics.

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Evolution of HR analytics

If we were to believe the 2004 Workforce management article(formerly Personnel Journal article) The roots of this diverse form dates back to 1978 when Jack Fitz-Enz took a radical step to establish an idea that the impact of HR activities should be measured and followed to which was apathy, disagreement and disbelief.

Past few decades tireless efforts have been tried to propel into this field and the work was started by making the basic nut and bolts of enumerating the compensation, staffing, hiring and retention metrics so as to enable to benchmark it in the future. Later refining and benchmark remained to be the area of focus. With growth triggering all spheres, the world of HR metrics and software have converged together creating business intelligence on the people side of the business and it is further arising. Tedious calculations and computations had vanished of the scene due to competency empowered by the incorporation of analytics in HR.

With this trend growing and software convergence the question that we find ourselves in is, “Is this a sustainable, value-driven system or will it turn to be a furby-game?”

If we try and assess the factors and analyze that when the dust of the HR analytics shall settle will it be a dust or will it sustain? We get a point of view of following synopsis:-

As a sustainability

In a new fad

Imperative that HR measure can be solved in newer ways

Incapability to develop on insights gained through the analytics

Fact based approach to make decisions

Not much of value is proven

Declining technological barriers

Turning more as a “Software Story”

Entering into the age of Empiricism

Buzz without proven value

Following is an excerpt of an article published on tlnt

“Some people suggest Big Data be applied to HR, which brings me to my point. While Big Data might work for managing things and numbers, how can it apply to something few understand, let alone manage and measure — like human performance?”

I understand the agony the author has gone through while writing this excerpt. He feels anguished and irritated at the fact that with more of analytics getting into picture the aim to measure the subjective elements of human capital gets ignored. Big data and other such technology measures that shall be coming to picture shall even bitter the scene. The author has failed to realize the actual intent and meaning of HR analytics, thereby failing to appreciate HR analytics.

Before we move further, it is to be realized that there are heavy expectations from the phenomena. Poor quality imitations, cheapening effort and value, overselling of software by the vendors and oversimplification that cannot provide any insights to the reader , leaves the value of analytics dissolved. It should be shed and people should get rid of the myopic view.

• It is not really an instant solution. It is a way of doing things

• Think of analytics as a toolbox, one screwdriver of a particular size and style is not going to let you build chest of drawers, much less in the hands of an inexperienced carpenter

• Deliver innovation with excellence and a keen eye on value

• Push for true creativity and push the value

• Change people’s approach to the challenges

• Be a relentless missionary and evangelist

• Self-police the system that you have planted

With the stats and measures that have been put in it makes very clear that HR analytics is not a fad. It is withering its charm and that can only be regained by following few easy steps. The sustenance that will be gained will help us in the long run and make this fore known personnel department and todays HR department as attractive and competitive as others.

This article is authored by Barleen Kaur from IIM Indore


Bassi, Laurie, Rob Carpenter, and Dan McMurrer. HR Analytics Handbook: Report of the State of Knowledge,

Reed Business, Amsterdam, November 2010, pages 11, 13-14.

Bassi Laurie and Daniel McMurrer. "Does Engagement Really Drive Results?" Talent Management Magazine, March 2010, pages 42-48.

Boudreau, John and Peter Ramstad. Beyond HR: The New Science of Human Capital, Harvard Business Press, 2007, page 192.

Caudron, Shari. "Jac Fitz-enz, Metrics Maverick," April, 2004, /section/news/ feature/jac-fitz-enz-metrics-maverick/index.htnil (accessed March 2,2011).

Davenport, Thomas, Jeanne Harris, and Jeremy Shapiro.

"Competing on Talent Analytics," Harvard Business Review, October 20 10, page 4.

Pfeffer Jeffrey and Robert Sutton. Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence Based Management. Boston. Harvard Business Press. 2006, pages 12-13.

DeloitteAnalytics/business-analytics-fad-or-fundamental- A research overview

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