To avoid misunderstanding, we should begin with an equation:

People Analytics = Workforce Analytics

The science behind this part of organization analytics started growing a few years ago. It is a very young part of analytics, and that is why there are lot of problems with naming it. Even if some differences can be found, there is nothing wrong with treating the following names as synonyms: People Analytics, Workforce Analytics, HR Analytics, HR insights and a lot more.

As Cade Massey, Professor in the Wharton School's Operations, Information and Decisions Department, defined

People analytics is a data-driven approach to managing people at work and analytics, applied to ‘people issues’ – hiring, performance management, compensation, retention, etc.

People Analytics is also well-described in Mike West’s article, which the figure 1 idea came from. He (correctly) perceives People Analytics as something connecting HR management, math, technology and behavioral science.

people analytics components
Figure 1. What is People Analytics?

Source: West, M., ‘What is People Analytics?’

According to the authors of the book ‘The Power of People’

Workforce analytics is the discovery, interpretation and communication of meaningful patterns in workforce-related data to inform decision making and improve performance

They see Workforce Analytics as a term in which encompasses people, robotics and other factors of the workforce.

There may be some difference between the quoted definitions but both People Analytics and Workforce analytics are mostly used interchangeably. However, as can be seen on figure 2, the more popular name is definitely ‘People Analysis’. This data comes from Google search trends from the last 5 years. People Analytics became especially popular in 2017.

search interest people workforce analytics
Figure 2. People Analytics vs Workforce Analytics search interest

Source: Google trends

If we had to predict which name will win this race, it is clear that there is an upward trend toward ‘People Analytics’ - maybe because it’s more human-related. And if that’s the main direction this science is moving in – we are in favor.

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  1. Massey, C., ‘People Analytics’, Wharton – University of Pennsylvania
  2. West, M., ‘What is People Analytics?’
  3. Guenole, N., Ferrar, J., Feinzig, S. (2017), ‘The Power of People’
  4. Google trends search interest: People analytics and workforce analytics

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