People Analytics: HR Transformation through Data

Program Overview

Talent is the most important asset in many businesses, yet people-related issues are often addressed informally, with a strong reliance on instinct. Analytics instead relies on objective data and deep analysis to remove subjectivity from decisions.

In People Analytics: HR Transformation through Data, you will learn how data can and should be collected, analyzed, and used as a basis for decisions. Wharton faculty will demonstrate how analytics techniques are being applied to create an employee-centric approach to talent management. As the workforce continues to undergo radical changes — and management across generations, geographies, and worker expectations becomes increasingly more complex — data helps build practices that lead to better individual and organizational performance. The companies that can best harness the power of their data will continue to reap the benefits, and the advantages over their competition, well into the future.

Academic Director Cade Massey says People Analytics: HR Transformation through Data is about making more rigorous decisions.

Program Experience

Program Highlights & Benefits

In People Analytics: HR Transformation through Data, you will:

  • Discover how and when data can be used to make key employee decisions
  • Become a more educated data consumer, recognizing the good and the bad in terms of data collection and applications
  • Understand how leading companies are using people analytics
  • Consider relevant legal and ethical issues
  • Interpret and present results of analysis
  • Become an agent of change toward an analytics culture and position yourself as a strategic partner in your company’s talent management

Experience & Impact

People analytics began as a technical human resources function that focused narrowly on engagement and retention. Today it is increasingly applied across global organizations to solve a wide range of business challenges. Some of the world’s most successful companies (such as Google, Nissan, and Goldman Sachs) are using people analytics to improve hiring and promotion, performance evaluation, job design, compensation, and collaboration. But while many companies say tapping into their employee data is a priority, only a minority of organizations has usable data, and even fewer are putting it to use. That means developing the knowledge and tools needed to exploit this fast-growing field can give your career and your organization a serious advantage

People Analytics explores data-driven techniques for managing people, and for making more strategic, systematic decisions that affect the organization as a whole. It will help prepare you to take a leadership role in building an analytics capability in your organization, as opposed to learning the number-crunching skills of data scientists. Taught by the directors of the Wharton People Analytics initiative, the program examines the topic on three levels — data collection, analysis, and application — and offers state-of-the-art research and applications for each. By gaining greater insights into your workforce, you will be able to help them engage more positively and productively, and reduce risks.

Because merely having data is not sufficient, better and worse uses of data are explained using real-world examples. You will learn methods for avoiding decision biases, including employing machine-based algorithms. Finally, best-practice approaches to drawing rigorous conclusions based on collected data from some of the world’s most successful companies are explored.

This dynamic, hands-on program is a true learning laboratory, leveraging the latest insights and best practices to help you and your organization move to the analytics forefront. In addition to lectures, case studies, an industry panel, and exercises, you will work throughout the week in small groups on a real-world issue, running data analyses and making recommendations based on your findings. You will also discuss specific challenges with faculty and fellow participants as you begin to explore how people analytics can be applied in your organization.

Session Topics

The theories and applications of People Analytics will be examined as they relate to:

  • Internal and External Hiring
  • Promoting, Retaining, and Engaging Talent
  • Team Building
  • Legal and Ethical Questions
  • Decision Biases
  • Network Analysis: Measuring and Managing Cooperation
  • Emerging Technologies

Who Should Attend

Professor Cade Massey on who should attend.

People Analytics was designed for executives responsible for hiring and managing talent. Those who want to build analytics capabilities, improve the quality of talent, and learn better tools for managing and leading organizations will also benefit. In particular, the program attracts HR professionals, business unit and general managers, and leaders of mid-size to large companies.

Fluency in English, written and spoken, is required for participation in Wharton Executive Education programs unless otherwise indicated.

Group Enrollment

To further leverage the value and impact of this program, we encourage companies to send cross-functional teams of executives to Wharton. We offer group enrollment benefits to companies sending four or more participants.


What is human resource analytics (HR analytics) about?

Human resource analytics is the use of existing data and analysis to make better decisions about human resources topics. Common areas of interest include: hiring; increasing employee engagement; and gauging and improving productivity, collaboration, and diversity. Without analytics, those topics have been traditionally addressed through a mix of judgment, best practices, and prior experience.

What is workforce analysis?

Workforce analysis is the use of data and analysis to better understand the characteristics of a current workforce and to optimize the makeup of that workforce by hiring the right people and managing them so they deliver value to the organization. Workforce analysis is also another name for human resource analytics.

Why are analytics important for HR?

Analytics are important for human resources because talent management involves hundreds of important decisions, and we know from elsewhere in business that decisions are improved with data and analysis. Instead of guessing, analytics allows HR to analyze in a structured way what has worked in the past. This informs decisions on who to hire and promote, and how to pay, retain, and assign jobs to employees. For example, you get a better understanding of who to hire if you know who is already performing well in the organization.

What is HR data?

The most fundamental kind of HR data is basic information about who you employ, in what jobs, how they perform, and what you pay them. Another layer of human resource data involves recruitment, and includes applicant tracking systems to collect information on who applies, who gets interviewed, who gets an offer, and who is coming. For some positions, HR data can also include detailed individual performance data. For example, at a call center, HR may know how many calls someone makes, how long they are at their desk, and how many sales they make.

What are the HR metrics?

Metrics are the basic measures used to evaluate the health of HR management within an organization. The most common human resource metrics include: turnover rate, employee engagement scores (self-reported), ratio of jobs filled internally versus externally, number of open vacancies and time to fill each job, how the organization is viewed in the external market, number of people hired through referrals, and pay raises (average pay per employee, increase in pay per employee).

What is recruiting analytics?

This is the application of analysis and data specifically to the process of recruiting people. There are two areas that analytics can help with. The first is optimizing the recruiting process. Analytics helps better determine who to recruit by using data on the performance of existing employees to understand which candidates are most likely to be successful. The second area is using recruiting analytics as a scorecard, tracking the success of the recruiting function. Key data points include time to fill, number of interviews per offer, offer yield, and cost per hire.

What is an HR scorecard?

This is a set of metrics used to assess an organization’s HR function. It can include topics such as engagement, turnover, growth in headcount, growth in pay, and vacancies.

What does KPI mean in recruitment?

KPI is the abbreviation for key performance indicator. It is used to track how well the recruiting function is working, and can include time to fill, cost per hire, offer yield, quality of hire, and number of people who stay in the job for a specific amount of time.

What is external hiring?

When a company fills a job, it can find someone to work for them who is currently outside the company (external hiring) or look to candidates already working for them in other roles (internal hiring).

What are the benefits of internal recruitment?

There are four key benefits to hiring an existing employee.

  • First, internal hires know the organization and culture already, and have established relationships. They therefore tend to perform better than external hires over their first few years on the job.
  • Second, little or no effort is required for training and onboarding internal hires.
  • Third, because so much is already known about the employee, it is less likely that a mistake will be made when hiring internally. This is because decisions are based on actual performance rather than on a resume.
  • Finally, because other firms may not consider internal candidates, they tend to cost less than external hires.

What are the advantages of external recruitment?

Important benefits to hiring externally include bringing in skills and capabilities that are currently absent in the organization, adding diverse perspectives, and keeping the culture more open and dynamic.

What is the internal recruitment process?

Internal recruiting is finding existing employees to fill job openings. This may begin with the posting of jobs on internal job boards or through word of mouth. The process can also begin by identifying existing employees who need experience in other roles or who would do well in other roles. Then, the employees apply for the open jobs and a selection process takes place. The final step is acceptance of the job offer.

How do you improve employee retention?

Improving retention begins with recruiting: hiring people who are most likely to succeed in the job and stay with the company. During the interviewing process, be realistic about what the job will be like, rather than trying too hard to sell the company. This results in self-selection, with those wrong for the job dropping out. There are also many factors that can improve retention post-hire. Effective onboarding, creating a positive relationship with the manager, providing opportunities for growth, and communicating what a career path looks like can all improve retention. The job itself may also be redesigned to prevent boredom and to allow the employee’s strengths to be better utilized.

What factors affect employee engagement?

People tend to be more engaged when the demands of the job roughly match their abilities. Being stretched too far can create burnout, and not enough challenge can create boredom. Variety in work, helpful feedback, being able to see the results of one’s efforts, and being given autonomy also create engagement. Other factors include good relationships with coworkers and managers, and having a culture in which leaders are able to inspire people with a vision that resonates with their values.


Matthew Bidwell, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Academic Director

Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Human resource management, knowledge workers, worker mobility

Cade Massey

Cade Massey, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Academic Director

Practice Professor, Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School

Research Interests: People analytics, judgment under uncertainty, organizational behavior

Exequiel Hernandez, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Max and Bernice Garchik Family Presidential Assistant Professor, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Global networks, internationalization, immigration, innovation, knowledge management, mergers and acquisitions

Prasanna Tambe

Prasanna Tambe, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Associate Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Economics of IT labor, technological change, and labor markets

Kevin Werbach, JDSee Faculty Bio

Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Business, legal, and social implications of the internet and communications technologies


I lead the people analytics function at H-E-B, a Texas grocery retailer with stores in major U.S. cities such as Austin, San Antonio and Houston, and in Mexico. We have about 100,000 employees. My team partners with different departments within human resources, and with business leaders, to help them better understand their populations. We’re also working toward doing some predictive analytics in the near future.

I loved Professor Cade Massey’s focus on using data to make decisions. That was very helpful from an influencing perspective: how to get others to buy into the analytics ideas you’re presenting. And the subjects that Professor Matthew Bidwell discussed were really helpful from a technical standpoint. So the course took some of the statistical analysis with which I’m familiar, and combined it with ways to leverage my expertise and help the company make informed decisions.

Through this course, I was glad to discover that that my group at H-E-B is headed in the right direction. I’m much more confident about our ideas than I was before. Ever since I completed the course, I’ve really ratcheted up my level of effort toward pushing these ideas in front of our executives.

The ability to have productive conversations with the other course participants was really important to me, and that feature was well-integrated into the program by pretty much every speaker. You gained a lot from hearing what other participants thought about certain issues. Plus, having breakfast, lunch, and dinner together was really helpful to get to talk to people a little more. Getting to know everyone made the in-class conversation better.

One of the biggest takeaways for me was understanding that my company’s challenges aren’t super-unique. I was put at ease by discovering that a lot of people face similar problems and they all have creative ways to approach them.

The faculty were fantastic. One thing I especially appreciated was how interactive the course was. When the professors would ask questions, you never felt like they were restricting how you could respond. They took what you said and played off it, made it more of a discussion and asked even more probing questions. The faculty were genuinely interested in learning from us, which I thought was phenomenal. I highly recommend the program.

Adrian M. Pérez Statistician/People Analytics Leader, H-E-B, San Antonio, Texas

Dates, Cost, & Location

April 14 - 17, 2020Philadelphia, PA$9,100

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Wharton People Analytics: Using data to advance how organizations make decisions about people.

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