People analytics versus HR metrics: Tracking the right data and asking insightful questions


August 20, 2020

HR and C-level business leaders know their employees are vital to the growth and success of their organizations but still many of them struggle to ask the right questions about their metrics, missing out on critical input for their strategic decisions.

There is a lot of buzz around people analytics and HR metrics but the terms are not interchangeable. They do, however, go hand in hand. Metrics are the building blocks of people analytics. Metrics won’t give you the whole picture you need to take action. Understanding what is behind the data so you can drive employee motivation and engagement is the realm of people analytics come in.

Metrics tell you ‘what’ is happening in your organization—your retention, attrition, and turnover stats, for example—whereas analytics tell you the story behind those numbers. People analytics give you insight to answer critical ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about your company’s HR practices and employee experience initiatives.

In this post, we are going to go over the main differences between people analytics and HR metrics. We will highlight the key metrics you need to track and propose the type of analytics questions to ask when evaluating your organizational culture.

Ensuring your leadership teams ask the right questions about the HR metrics they are tracking will ensure that the ROI of the company’s people policies and initiatives translates into a stronger, more productive, and profitable organization.

Analytics versus metrics

Let’s start with two basic definitions.

People Analytics

If your HR team is looking to develop successful #CulturalTransformation initiatives and improve the overall employee experience throughout the organization, it is critical to ensure your technology platform can truly measure the impact of your initiatives.

What Metrics Should You Track?

The metrics you track need to be relevant to your organization and actionable. Focus on the metrics that are closely tied to your business objectives and your core values. 

HR leaders need to ultimately drive motivation and engagement, which is why it’s so important to understand which metrics best reflect the employee experience to then track and analyze them before they implement HR programs and initiatives.

We’ve broken down the HR metrics to track into three main categories: efficiency, effectiveness, and impact. Here are some examples of things you can track in each one:

People Analytics

Platforms like StarMeUp OS will give you quick access to these indicators in the metrics dashboard, providing you with a visual representation of your data and allowing you to view your employees’ performance in real-time. Workplace culture platforms like StarMeUp OS make tracking metrics easy. 

Here are some common metrics tracked by StarMeUp:

  • Levels of engagement

  • Participation over time

  • Leaderboard

  • Retention rate

  • Predictive data about the community

  • Recognition sent/received.

Q&A Time: where ‘A’ is for analytics and answers!

Even with the best software and the best metrics (KPIs) you still need people who have the know-how and expertise to interpret what the numbers mean. Analytics is the investigation into the statistics you’ve gathered. So now that you have all your data, you need to make sure you are asking the right questions.

  • Which competencies are the strongest in my organization? Are they in sync with my company’s core values and needs?
  • Who are the employees with the strongest connections in my organization best suited to help me drive change?
  • How well are my offices/areas interacting? What can we do to strengthen their bonds?
  • How can we best improve employee engagement?

Why are Metrics and Analytics Important?

Successful organizations have become increasingly involved in all stages of the employee journey, especially competency development and career paths. 

HR leaders can now confidently report on the ROI of their policies and initiatives or see where improvement is needed. The reality is that a data-driven HR approach is a key component of reducing turnover and retaining your best talent.

Metrics and analytics, when used properly and on a regular basis, can have a powerful impact on a company’s overall success – not just on your HR initiatives. 


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