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The Practical Guide to HR Analytics: Using Data to Inform, Transform & Empower HR Decisions

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Inform, Transform, and Empower Your HR Decisions

The need for HR professionals to understand and apply data analytics is greater than ever. Today’s successful HR professionals must ask insightful questions, understand key terms, and intelligently apply data, but may lack a clear understanding of the many forms, types, applications, interpretations, and capabilities of HR analytics.

HR Analytics provides a practical approach to using data to solve real HR challenges in organizations and demystifies analytics with clear guidelines and recommendations for making the business case, starting an HR analytics function, avoiding common pitfalls, presenting data through visualization and storytelling, and much more.


“Simply the best book I’ve read in the field of HR analytics. It provides the basics and more advanced ways for practitioners to learn about and apply HR analytics.” — Shelley R. Robbins, MBA, Ph.D., Senior Chair, Masters Programs in Business, Capella University School of Business

“The Practical Guide to HR Analytics nails it! Analytics can be a scary concept for HR, but the guide takes a well-thought-out and relatable approach to the subject. HR can use this guide to create a healthy relationship with data-driven decisions.” — Sana’ Rasul, SHRM-CP, ACC, PHR, Chief Girlfriend, HRGirlfriends.com

“A highly engaging, informative, and non-technical introduction to talent analytics that sets readers on a course to making better-informed HR decisions.” — Wayne Cascio, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado

“Filled with practical tools, sound advice, and relatable case examples, this book is an outstanding starter kit for improving HR through thoughtful analysis.” — Alexis Fink, Ph.D., Talent Management, Intel Corporation

“If you are looking for the ultimate how-to guide for HR analytics, this is the book for you!” — Lorenzo Gallì, Founder & Managing Director, ScienceForWork

“Expertly shows practitioners at any level how to best use data to make informed decisions.” Steve Browne, SHRM-SCP, Vice President of HR, LaRosa’s, Inc.

“Breaks down the seismic shift underway to make HR analytics both understandable and accessible.” — Talya Bauer, Cameron Professor of Management, Portland State University School of Business; President, SIOP

“A must-have resource for those looking to better themselves and their organizations in the HR analytics space.” — Rich Cober, Ph.D., Executive VP & Chief Human Resources Officer, MicroStrategy

“Balancing scientific rigor with practical constraints, the authors walk the reader through every major step of the talent analytics process.” — Dr. Matthew S. Fleisher, Director of Global Talent Analytics, FTI Consulting

 About the Authors

Dr. Shonna Waters is a regional vice president of behavioral science at BetterUp, where she leads a team that conducts research to advance the science of behavior change and consults with organizations to apply it in support of business goals. Prior to joining BetterUp, she was the vice president of research at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

She has spent her professional career helping organizations use analytics to improve performance and the employee experience. Dr. Waters spent over fifteen years as an external and internal consultant applying analytics to a wide range of human-capital challenges. While at the National Security Agency (NSA), she led the transformation of NSA’s promotion, performance management, and awards and recognition systems; the design and validation of NSA’s analyst hiring assessments; and a variety of other evaluation and organizational performance projects. Dr. Waters holds a PhD in industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology and statistics and a certificate in leadership coaching from Georgetown University. She is also an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) through the International Coach Federation (ICF), and a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRMSCP).

She is currently a professor in Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies and previously taught statistics and research methods at the George Washington University and the University of Minnesota. Her work has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals and books, and she has published over fifty technical reports and presented at more than twenty-five professional conferences.

Dr. Valerie Streets is a quantitative research consultant at CEB, now Gartner, where she uses data analytics to provide businesses with insights and recommendations. Prior to that, Dr. Streets was the first postdoctoral research fellow at SHRM. In that role, she worked to expand SHRM’s thought leadership by disseminating her findings to the HR and academic communities via conference presentations, publications, toolkits, magazine and blog articles, and effective practice guides. Before joining SHRM, she worked as a researcher and adjunct professor at the University of Tulsa.

She has ten years of research experience and three years of experience as an independent consultant. Her research specialties include talent acquisition and diversity and inclusion. She holds a PhD in I-O psychology from Old Dominion University. She has taught courses in statistics, research methods, I-O psychology, and organizational behavior at the University of Tulsa, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Wesleyan College. Her work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and books and she has presented at fifteen professional conferences.

Lindsay McFarlane works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) where she develops and validates competency models and assessments, and supports the learning and development strategy of FEMA management and employees. Prior to that, she was the senior specialist of strategic research initiatives at SHRM where she led large research projects to support the organization’s key strategic initiatives, including the development of talent analytics tools for the HR profession, competency-based products and resources, and certification exams.

In her career at SHRM, Ms. McFarlane contributed to the development of the Competency Development Plan, Competency Diagnostic Tools, and the book Defining HR Success: 9 Critical Competencies for HR Professionals (2015). She wrote for the SHRM certification newsletter and has been published in HR Magazine. Ms. McFarlane is skilled in qualitative and quantitative organizational research, data analysis, competency modeling, project management, training, and instructional systems development. Ms. McFarlane earned a bachelor’s in psychology from Virginia Tech and a master’s in I-O psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and she is a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

She is an active member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), Personnel Testing Council Metropolitan Washington (PTCMW), and International Personnel Assessment Council (IPAC), and volunteers in her local community.

Rachael Johnson-Murray is the manager of research translation at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She contributes to the creation of research-based content for HR professionals to use in an applied setting. At SHRM, Rachael uses data visualization and communication techniques to bridge the gap between HR practices and scientific research.

Prior to joining SHRM, she spent seven years helping organizations develop and establish HRIS and analytics capabilities. Her work allowed these organizations to extract stories from their data. She was most recently the senior HRIS analyst at Total Wine and More. In that role she led data integrity and systems integration initiatives, standardized business processes, established HR metrics and reports, conducted organizational assessments, and piloted initiatives to further support the organization’s business goals. Rachael earned her bachelor’s in psychology from Minnesota State University at Mankato, and her master’s in I-O psychology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Additional Info


NameThe Practical Guide to HR Analytics: Using Data to Inform, Transform & Empower HR Decisions
AuthorShonna D. Waters^Valerie N. Streets^Lindsay A. McFarlane^Rachael Johnson-Murray
Published Year2018
Page Count256