People Analytics Terms

The People Analytics Dictionary: Essential Terms for People Ops Teams (Guide)

At the heart of every successful HR initiative lies effective communication. A common vocabulary ensures that everyone within the People Ops team – from HR managers to data analysts – is on the same page when discussing key metrics, trends, and insights derived from data.

Introducing and embracing a common vocabulary in People Analytics marks more than just a linguistic shift – it signifies the integration of data-driven insights into the very fabric of organisational culture. 

As these terms become part of everyday conversations and discussions, they cease to be mere jargon and instead morph into fundamental components of how decisions are made, actions are taken, and successes are measured within the HR team. 

When terms like “metrics,” “KPIs,” and “predictive analytics” permeate the culture, they serve as constant reminders of the organisation’s commitment to leveraging data for strategic advantage.

Please find below a comprehensive dictionary of essential terms and concepts in people analytics for the people ops team, along with a fun fact or historical tidbit on each to enhance your learning experience:


  1. Agile HR

Definition: Agile HR adopts the principles of agile software development to improve the flexibility and efficiency of HR processes. This approach focuses on iterative development, where solutions evolve through collaboration between cross-functional teams, emphasising employee feedback and rapid response to change.

 Did you know? The Agile Manifesto, which is the foundation of Agile practices, was created in 2001 by a group of software developers. They aimed to find a more dynamic and adaptable way to create software, principles which have since been applied to HR to foster innovation and adaptability in managing human capital.

  1. AI (Artificial Intelligence) in HR

Definition: AI in HR refers to the application of artificial intelligence technologies to enhance human resources functions, such as recruitment, employee engagement, and performance management. By analysing data and identifying patterns, AI can help make more informed decisions and automate routine tasks.

Did you know? The concept of AI was first introduced at a conference at Dartmouth College in 1956, where the term “Artificial Intelligence” was coined. Now, it’s revolutionising the HR industry by enabling personalised employee experiences and predictive analytics.

  1. Analytics

Definition: Analytics in HR refers to the systematic analysis of data from HR processes and practices, aiming to uncover insights for informed decision-making and strategic planning. It involves using statistical methods, data analysis techniques, and software to evaluate and improve employee performance, recruitment, retention, and overall organisational effectiveness.

Did you know? The term “analytics” has been around since the late 19th century, but its use in business contexts, including HR, gained significant traction in the early 21st century with the arrival of big data and advanced data processing tech.

  1. Annualised Employee Turnover Rate

Definition: The Annualised Employee Turnover Rate is a metric that calculates the percentage of employees who leave an organisation over a year, including both voluntary and involuntary separations, adjusted for the average number of employees during the same period. It provides insight into the organisation’s retention and attrition patterns.

Did you know? Employee turnover rates can vary widely across industries. For example, the hospitality industry often experiences higher turnover rates compared to the finance sector. This metric helps companies benchmark against industry standards to better understand their competitive position in retaining talent.

  1. Anomaly Detection (Outlier Detection)

Definition: Anomaly Detection, also known as Outlier Detection, in HR involves identifying patterns in data that do not conform to expected behaviour. It is used to detect fraud, identify unusual employee behaviour, or highlight inconsistencies in HR processes, which might indicate errors or opportunities for improvement.

Did you know? Anomaly detection, which once helped astronomers spot distant stars behaving oddly, is now HR’s secret weapon. Imagine using the same tech that spots cosmic anomalies to catch a rogue expense claim or to identify unusual patterns in employee absences – it’s a stellar example of how far-reaching and versatile these techniques have become!

  1. Anonymisation

Definition: Anonymisation is the process of removing or altering personal information from data sets so that individuals cannot be easily identified. This is crucial for protecting employee privacy while analysing data.

  1. API (Application Programming Interface)

Definition: API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of rules and tools that allows different software applications to communicate and work together. In people analytics, APIs can be used to seamlessly integrate various HR systems and tools, enabling the automatic transfer and update of employee data across platforms.

Did you know? APIs are what allow people analytics software to integrate and exchange data between various HR tools, analytics platforms, and databases to enhance workforce insights and decision-making.

  1. Attrition Rate

Definition: Attrition Rate, often referred to as turnover rate, measures the rate at which employees leave a company within a specific period. It’s a critical metric for understanding workforce stability and identifying potential issues within the organisation.

Did you know? The term “attrition” originally comes from the Latin word “attritio,” which refers to the action of rubbing against something. Over time, it evolved to mean a gradual reduction in strength or numbers through continual pressure or loss.

In the context of HR, it’s interesting to see how a term that once described physical wear and tear now applies to the dynamics of workforce management, highlighting the natural ebb and flow of employees within a company.


  1. Behavioral Analytics

Definition: Behavioral analytics focuses on understanding how and why individuals within an organisation behave the way they do, using data analysis. This can include everything from productivity patterns to the ways employees interact with software and tools.

Did you know? One of the earliest forms of behavioural analytics can be traced back to the ancient Olympic Games, where coaches and spectators would observe athletes’ performances to predict future behaviours and outcomes in competitions. 

  1. Benchmarking

Definition: Benchmarking is comparing how well something is done with a standard or best practice within the industry to see where improvements can be made. In HR, this might involve comparing turnover rates, employee satisfaction, and productivity levels.

Did you know? The term “benchmark” originally came from the marks that surveyors made in stone to ensure their measuring equipment was set up in the same position each time.

  1. Business Impact Analysis

Definition: Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is the process of figuring out how different problems or emergencies might affect a company’s operations. It helps a company plan how to keep working during tough times by understanding which parts of the business are most important.

Did you know? The concept of analysing the impact of business disruptions has been crucial throughout history, dating back to ancient trade routes. Merchants had to understand the impact of natural disasters, piracy, or political changes on their trade. 

Today’s BIA is a sophisticated evolution of those early risk assessments, using data to foresee and mitigate the impacts of modern-day “disasters” like cyberattacks or market crashes.


  1. Candidate Experience

Definition: Candidate experience refers to how job seekers perceive and react to an organisation’s hiring process, from job search, application, and interview, to the final hiring decision.

Did You Know? 58% of applicants have rejected a job offer due to a negative candidate experience.

  1. Candidate NPS (Net Promoter Score)

Definition: Candidate NPS measures a job applicant’s willingness to recommend an organisation’s hiring process to others. It’s an indicator of the overall satisfaction with the recruitment experience.

Did You Know? Originally introduced in 2003 as a customer loyalty metric, the adaptation of Net Promoter Score for candidate experience underscores the modern view of candidates as key stakeholders, akin to customers.

  1. Churn Rate

Definition: Churn rate is the percentage of employees who leave a company over a specific period. It’s a critical metric for understanding employee retention and turnover.

Did You Know? Applying “churn rate” to employee turnover reflects a shift in business strategy, recognising that retaining talent is as crucial as maintaining customer loyalty.

  1. Cohort Analysis

Definition: Cohort analysis is a method of grouping and analysing the behaviour of individuals who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined period.

Did You Know? In HR, cohort analysis might be used to compare the job satisfaction levels of employees who underwent a new onboarding process versus those who did not.

  1. Compensation Analytics

Definition: Compensation analytics involves analysing and interpreting data related to employee pay and benefits to ensure competitive and equitable compensation practices.

Did You Know? The systematic analysis of compensation, which began taking shape during the Industrial Revolution, represented a move toward more strategic and motivational pay structures, a significant evolution from earlier, more arbitrary methods.

  1. Core HR (Human Resources)

Definition: Core HR refers to the fundamental HR functions that deal with employee information management, payroll, benefits, compliance, and other administrative tasks.

Did You Know? In the early 20th century, the role of HR was almost entirely clerical, focusing on tasks like tracking employee attendance and pay. Fast forward to today, Core HR has embraced artificial intelligence and machine learning, automating many of these tasks and allowing HR professionals to focus on strategic initiatives like employee engagement and talent development. 

  1. Cost Modelling

Definition: Cost modelling is the process of creating a model to predict the costs associated with various business activities, including projects, operations, and strategic initiatives.

Did You Know? Before the advent of sophisticated cost modelling techniques in the 1950s, businesses often relied on guesswork and simple estimates to forecast expenses. Today, we use advanced software that can simulate entire business operations in detail, making financial forecasting as precise as a science. 

  1. Cost per Hire

Definition: Cost per Hire is a metric that calculates the total expenses involved in recruiting and hiring new staff, divided by the number of hires made.

Did You Know? To cut down its Cost per Hire, Google famously analysed its hiring data and found that its brainteaser interview questions did not predict employee success. This led to a revamp of their hiring process, focusing more on structured interviews and assessments relevant to the job. 

  1. Culture Fit

Definition: Culture Fit refers to the degree to which an individual’s values, beliefs, and behaviour align with the culture of the company they work for or are considering joining.

Did You Know? Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer, is renowned for its company culture and its unique approach to hiring for culture fit. They offer new employees a “quitting bonus” of $4000 to leave after the first few weeks if they feel the company’s culture isn’t the right fit for them. 


  1. Data Democratisation

Definition: Data democratisation is the process of making data accessible to non-specialists within an organisation, without requiring them to have expertise in data analysis.

  1. Data Mining

Definition: Data mining involves examining large databases to discover patterns and relationships that can inform decision-making.

  1. Data Privacy

Definition:  Data privacy refers to the practices and policies that ensure personal information is managed securely and in compliance with legal requirements, protecting individuals from misuse of their data.

Did You Know? The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union marked a significant shift in data privacy, giving individuals in the UK and across Europe unprecedented control over their personal data. This regulation has set a new global standard for data protection and privacy.

  1. Data Processor

Definition: A data processor is an entity that processes personal data on behalf of a data controller, under specific instructions, usually as a third-party service.

Did You Know? In a move that might sound straight out of a science fiction novel, some of the world’s largest data processors now use underwater data centres to improve efficiency and reduce cooling costs. 

Microsoft, for example, submerged a data centre off the coast of Scotland to take advantage of the ocean’s natural cooling properties, showcasing an innovative approach to tackling the immense energy demands of global data processing.

  1. Data Protection Officer (DPO)

Definition: A Data Protection Officer (DPO) is a role within an organisation responsible for overseeing data protection strategy and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations.

Did You Know?  The role of a Data Protection Officer (DPO) is quite a lucrative position. Depending on the industry and location, DPOs in the UK can command impressive salaries, often ranging from £50,000 to over £100,000 per annum. This reflects the value companies place on protecting themselves from hefty fines for non-compliance.

  1. Data Visualisation

Definition: Data visualisation is the representation of data in a graphical format to make complex information more understandable and actionable.

Did You Know? People Analytics tools like PeopleBox can help you transform complex employee data into intuitive dashboards, helping managers easily identify trends in workforce productivity, engagement levels, and turnover rates for informed decision-making. 

  1. Decision Tree

Definition: A decision tree is a graphical representation of decisions and their possible consequences, including chance event outcomes, resource costs, and utility.

Did You Know? In HR, decision trees are used to streamline the recruitment process by categorising applicants based on predefined criteria, such as skills and experience, to quickly identify the most suitable candidates for a position.

  1. Descriptive Analytics

Definition: Descriptive analytics involves analysing historical data to understand trends and patterns from the past.


  1. Embedded BI (Business Intelligence) / Analytics

Definition: Embedded BI is when business intelligence tools, like data analysis and reporting, are built right into everyday business software. This means you can get useful insights and make decisions based on data without leaving your regular work apps.

Did you know? Marriott International, a global hospitality leader, revolutionised its recruitment process by introducing a game-based career exploration tool integrated with embedded BI analytics. This innovative approach, aimed at attracting millennials, allowed potential candidates to manage a virtual hotel in a game setting. As players engaged with the game, Marriott collected data on their decision-making skills, problem-solving abilities, and interest in hospitality management.

  1. Employee Activation

Definition: Employee activation involves empowering employees to take an active role in the company’s mission and goals through engagement and advocacy initiatives, turning them into brand ambassadors.

Did you know? Starbucks hosts the annual Barista Championships, turning their coffee makers into global competitors. This fun contest not only celebrates their skills but also ignites a sense of pride and connection to the Starbucks brand, exemplifying employee activation by spotlighting the individuals behind the counter.

  1. Employee Engagement

Definition: Employee engagement measures the level of enthusiasm and dedication a worker feels towards their job and company, which significantly impacts productivity and retention.

Did you know? Experiments conducted between 1924 and 1932 aimed to examine how different working conditions affected workers’ productivity. Surprisingly, researchers found that no matter the physical changes made, productivity seemed to increase simply because workers felt observed and valued. 

It underscored the idea that feeling important and included could significantly boost employee morale and productivity, laying the groundwork for what we now recognise as employee engagement.

  1. Employee Experience

Definition: Employee experience encompasses everything an employee encounters, observes, or feels throughout their employment at a company, from onboarding to exit.

Did you know? The concept of “Employee Experience” gained a creative twist when Airbnb in 2015 renamed its HR department to “Employee Experience.” Airbnb’s approach underscored the importance of viewing employees not just as workers, but as internal customers, whose experiences within the company are pivotal to its success. 

  1. Employee Lifecycle

Definition: The employee lifecycle refers to the various stages an employee goes through with an organisation, from recruitment and onboarding to development, retention, and eventually, departure.

Did you know? The concept of the Employee Lifecycle has evolved significantly since the Industrial Revolution. Initially, the focus was primarily on hiring and basic training, with little attention to employee development, retention, or exit strategies. The lifecycle was linear and short, often ending as soon as a project was completed.

  1. Employee Lifetime Value (ELTV)

Definition: Employee Lifetime Value is a metric that estimates the total value an employee brings to an organisation throughout their tenure, balancing costs with contributions.

  1. Employee Listening

Definition: Employee listening refers to the practices and tools used by organisations to continuously gather and analyse feedback from employees about their experiences and perceptions.

Did you know? Several innovative companies, including Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Salesforce, and Zappos, employ creative methods like “Feedback Friday” events and virtual suggestion jars to actively listen to their employees’ feedback. 

  1. Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

Definition: Employee Net Promoter Score is a metric used to gauge employees’ willingness to recommend their workplace to friends and family, indicating overall satisfaction and loyalty.

Did you know? The concept of Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) traces back to its predecessor, the Net Promoter Score (NPS), developed by Fred Reichheld and Bain & Company in 2003. 

Initially used to measure customer loyalty, NPS was later adapted for employee feedback, leading to the creation of eNPS. This evolution underscores the importance of employee satisfaction and advocacy in parallel with customer loyalty for business success.

  1. Employee Satisfaction

Definition: Employee satisfaction measures how happy workers are with their job and work environment, including aspects like work-life balance, compensation, and relationships with colleagues.

Did you know? Research has shown that companies with high employee satisfaction levels tend to outperform their competitors. According to a study conducted by the University of Warwick, happy employees are on average 12% more productive than their less satisfied counterparts. So, investing in employee satisfaction isn’t just about making workers happy—it’s also a smart business strategy.


  1. Feedback Loop

Definition: A feedback loop is when a system uses what it learns from its results to make things better next time. It’s like getting advice from past experiences to improve future outcomes.

Did you know? In corporate America, a notable feedback loop example is the “360-degree feedback” process, where employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from their peers, managers, and direct reports. This comprehensive feedback mechanism allows individuals to understand how their work is perceived from multiple viewpoints.

  1. Forecasting

Definition: Forecasting is the process of making predictions about future events based on historical data and analysis.

Did you know? The term “forecasting” sounds modern, but it’s been in use for centuries. For instance, the ancient Babylonians tried to predict the weather based on cloud patterns and astrology over 2,500 years ago. Today, we use sophisticated algorithms and data analysis for forecasting, a far cry from observing clouds and stars!


  1. Gamification in HR

Definition: Gamification in HR involves using game-like elements (such as points, badges, and leaderboards) in work-related activities to motivate employees, enhance engagement, and improve learning and training. It makes work tasks feel more like playing a game.

Did you know? Some companies use gamification for their training programs, where employees earn points and unlock levels by completing courses, making learning new skills as addictive as playing a video game!

  1. GDPR

Definition: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of EU laws that protect personal data and privacy. It gives people more control over their personal information and requires organisations to handle this data securely and transparently.

Did you know? Under GDPR, if a company sends you emails without your consent, they could be fined up to 4% of their annual global turnover. That’s a costly spam email!

  1. Gen AI

Definition: Generative AI refers to artificial intelligence systems that can generate new content, including text, images, and videos, based on their training data. It can create original outputs that mimic human-like creativity.

  1. Goal Alignment

Definition: Goal Alignment is the process of ensuring that individual employee goals and objectives support the overall goals of the organisation. This alignment helps everyone work towards the same overall direction and achievements.

Did you know? Using OKR (Objectives and Key Results) software like Peoplebox can be a game-changer for companies aiming to improve goal alignment among their teams.


  1. Headcount

Definition: Headcount refers to the total number of people employed by an organisation, including full-time and part-time staff.

Did you know? Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, famously introduced the “Two-Pizza Rule” as a guideline for managing team sizes within the company. The rule suggests that teams should be small enough that they can be fed with two pizzas. 

The underlying philosophy is that smaller teams are more productive, flexible, and better at fostering innovation because they can make decisions more quickly and with less bureaucracy than larger teams. 

  1. HR Analytics

Definition: HR Analytics involves using data analysis techniques to understand and improve HR processes, employee performance, and organisational outcomes.

Did you know? Before the term “HR Analytics” became mainstream, the practice of analysing employee data for insights dates back to the early 20th century. One of the first recorded instances involved the Hawthorne Works factory in the 1920s, where researchers discovered that changes in work environment conditions (like lighting adjustments) significantly impacted worker productivity.

  1. HR Generalist

Definition: An HR Generalist is a professional in the HR department who handles a wide range of responsibilities, from recruiting and training to payroll and employee relations.

Did you know? The role of the HR Generalist has evolved significantly over time. Originally, the position was often referred to as “Personnel Management” and focused primarily on administrative tasks related to employee management. 

With the digital revolution and the increasing complexity of workplace dynamics, today’s HR Generalists are now akin to Swiss Army knives of the HR world, equipped with a versatile set of skills ranging from legal compliance and benefits administration to talent management and organisational psychology. 

  1. HR Metrics

Definition: HR Metrics are quantitative measures used to track and assess the efficiency and impact of HR activities and processes.

Did you know? Some of the uncommon HR metrics are: 

  • Workforce Fluidity looks at how often jobs change in a company, showing how flexible and ready for change the company is. 
  • The Employee Innovation Index counts the new ideas or inventions employees bring. 
  • Social Network Strength checks how well employees connect with each other and if it helps them do better at work. 
  • Sentiment Analysis Score goes through what employees say to figure out how they feel about their jobs.
  1. HR Technology

Definition: HR Technology is software and tools designed to manage and improve all aspects of human resources practices and processes.

Did you know? There’s an HR technology that uses virtual reality (VR) for onboarding, where new hires can take a virtual tour of the office, meet their team members as avatars, and even complete training modules in a virtual world.

  1. Human Capital ROI

Definition: Human Capital ROI is a measure of the financial value that employees bring to a company compared to the cost of keeping them.


  1. Internal Mobility

Definition: Internal Mobility means when employees move to different roles or departments within the same company.

Did you know? Employees stay 60% longer at companies with high internal mobility.

  1. Interview Analytics

Definition: Using data to analyse and improve the effectiveness of job interviews.

Did you know? Some companies use interview analytics to identify patterns in successful hires, like common traits or responses, to refine their hiring strategies and find the best talent more efficiently. They can also flag potential biases in interview questions, ensuring fairness and diversity in hiring.


  1. Job Analysis

Definition: Job Analysis is when you study a job to figure out what tasks it involves, the skills needed, and how it fits into the company.

  1. Job Satisfaction

Definition: Job Satisfaction is how happy and content employees feel about their work and the workplace.

Did you know? Research shows that happy employees are more productive, take fewer sick days, and are more likely to stay with their company, making job satisfaction a win-win for both employees and employers!


  1. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Definition: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a company or individual is achieving key business objectives. They are used to evaluate success at reaching targets.

Did you know? While KPIs are crucial for business success, they can sometimes lead to unexpected outcomes. For instance, a famous example is the “cobra effect,” where a British colonial policy in India aimed to reduce the number of venomous cobra snakes by offering a bounty for every dead cobra. 

Initially, it seemed to work, but then people began breeding cobras for the income. When the government found out and scrapped the bounty, breeders released the now-worthless snakes, increasing the cobra population. This illustrates how KPIs, if not well thought out, can lead to the opposite of the desired effect!


  1. The Leadership Pipeline

Definition: The Leadership Pipeline concept is a framework used by organisations to ensure a constant supply of leaders at all levels. It’s designed to help companies identify, develop, and nurture talent from within, ensuring that employees are prepared to take on leadership roles as they become available.

Did you know? The concept of the Leadership Pipeline was first introduced in a book published in 1996 by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel. The book revolutionised how organisations think about leadership development, moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach to a structured system that develops leaders at every level of an organisation.


  1. Machine Learning

Definition: A branch of artificial intelligence that enables computers to learn from data and improve their performance over time without being explicitly programmed for each task.

Did you know? An interesting application of Machine Learning is in “predictive hiring”. Companies use algorithms to analyse vast amounts of data from resumes, application forms, and even social media profiles to predict which candidates are most likely to succeed in a role.

This technology can also forecast how well a candidate will fit with the company culture and even predict their longevity at the company, helping to significantly improve the quality of hires and reduce turnover rates.

  1. Master Data

Definition: Master Data is the essential data that a business uses to conduct operations, covering key entities such as customers, products, and employees, ensuring consistency across the organisation.

Did you know? Master Data analysis can uncover biases in hiring practices. By examining the demographics and background information within a company’s master data, patterns may emerge that highlight unconscious biases, such as a predominance of certain schools or hometowns among employees.

  1. Metadata

Definition: Data that provides information about other data, such as how, when, and by whom it was collected, created, accessed, and modified.

Did you know? Metadata can reveal the timeline of document revisions, showing how a project evolved or pinpointing when an employee contributed to a crucial report. This “data about data” offers insights into work patterns and contributions, highlighting the unseen efforts that help drive a team’s success.

  1. Mobility Rate

Definition: Mobility Rate refers to the frequency at which employees change positions within an organisation, indicating the internal movement and career progression opportunities available to staff, as well as the company’s ability to retain talent by offering growth paths.

Did you know? An interesting example of mobility rate is the “job swap” initiative, where employees switch roles with colleagues for a day. This practice boosts cross-department understanding and sparks career changes.

  1. Multivariate Analysis

Definition: Multivariate analysis is using multiple variables to understand relationships and patterns in data.


  1. Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Definition: Natural Language Processing (NLP) teaches computers to understand, interpret, and generate human language.

Did you know? NLP tools can optimise job listings to ensure inclusivity and eliminate biased language, making them appealing to a broader range of candidates. 

  1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Definition: A metric used to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships based on how likely customers are to recommend the company to others.

Did you know? The concept of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) was introduced in a 2003 Harvard Business Review article by Fred Reichheld, titled “The One Number You Need to Grow.” 

While originally designed to evaluate customer loyalty, it didn’t take long for innovative HR teams to see its potential for measuring employee engagement.


  1. Onboarding

Definition: The process of integrating a new employee into an organisation and its culture, including training and orientation.

Did you know? Google’s famous “Noogler” program is a quirky twist on traditional onboarding. New employees at Google are affectionately called “Nooglers” and are given propeller hats to wear during their initial weeks, to make the onboarding experience memorable and enjoyable.

  1. Organisational Culture

Definition: The shared values, beliefs, and practices that shape the social and psychological environment of a business.

Did you know? Pixar Animation Studios has a unique tradition called “Notes Day”. During this event, employees are encouraged to provide anonymous feedback directly to the studio’s executives, including suggestions for improving the company culture and creative processes.


  1. People Analytics

Definition: The use of data and data analysis techniques to understand, improve, and optimise the workforce and workplace practices.

Did you know? Google’s People Analytics team famously discovered that employees who ate meals together in the company’s cafeterias were more likely to collaborate and innovate. This insight led to the redesign of office spaces to encourage chance encounters and social interactions.

  1. People Operations

Definition: People Operations is a forward-thinking way of managing employees that emphasises their well-being, growth, and using data to make decisions.

Did you know? Google played a significant role in shaping the concept of People Operations. In the early 2000s, Google rebranded its HR department as “People Operations” to reflect its emphasis on using data and analytics to make strategic decisions about its workforce. This move sparked a trend in the tech industry and beyond, leading to a broader recognition of HR as a strategic business function.

  1. Performance Management

Definition: A continuous process of setting goals, assessing progress, and providing ongoing coaching and feedback to ensure that employees meet their objectives and career goals.

Did you know? Adobe famously scrapped its traditional annual performance reviews in favour of a system called “Check-Ins,” where employees and managers have ongoing conversations about goals and development. This shift led to increased employee engagement and productivity.

  1. Personal Data

Definition: Any information related to an identifiable individual, including details that can be used on their own or with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person.

Did you know? Some companies analyse personal data such as work patterns, communication preferences, and even health metrics (with appropriate consent and privacy measures) to personalise employee experiences, such as offering tailored benefits, training programs, and work arrangements set to individual needs.

  1. Personalised Messaging

Definition: Personalised Messaging in People Ops refers to the practice of tailoring communication to individual employees based on their preferences, needs, and characteristics.

  1. Pre-processing Data

Definition: Pre-processing data involves cleaning, organising, and transforming raw data into a format suitable for analysis or machine learning. This step often includes removing duplicates, handling missing values, and standardising data to improve its quality and usability.

Did you know? Pre-processing data in People Ops involves using data integration tools like Talend or Python libraries such as Pandas to consolidate and clean employee records from various sources into a unified dataset.

  1. Predictive Analytics

Definition: The use of data, statistical algorithms, and machine learning techniques to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data.

Did you know? IBM uses data-driven insights to anticipate and address employee attrition. By analysing various factors such as job satisfaction scores, project assignments, and career development opportunities, IBM’s HR team can identify employees who may be at risk of leaving the company. 

They then offer personalised retention strategies, such as mentorship programs or skill development initiatives, to reduce turnover and retain talent.

  1. Predictive Cycle

Definition: The Predictive Cycle is a continuous loop of using data to predict future outcomes, refining models based on results, and adapting strategies accordingly.

  1. Predictive Model

Definition: A statistical or machine learning model used to predict future events or outcomes based on past data.

Did you know? Popular tools for building predictive models include Python libraries like scikit-learn, R packages such as caret, and platforms like IBM SPSS Modeler and Azure Machine Learning


  1. Qualitative Data  

Definition: Data that describes qualities or characteristics and is often collected through interviews, observations, and open-ended questions, not easily quantifiable.

  1.  Quantitative Data  

Definition: Data that can be quantified and is typically numerical, allowing for measurement and statistical analysis to identify patterns and relationships.


  1. R (Language)  

Definition: A programming language and software environment used for statistical analysis, graphical representation, and reporting, popular in data analysis and scientific research.

Did you know? It was created by statisticians, Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman, at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. They developed R as an open-source alternative to commercial statistical software, aiming to democratise data analysis and make advanced statistical techniques accessible to a wider audience.

  1. Recruitment Analytics  

Definition: The process of using data analysis tools and software to track, evaluate, and improve the effectiveness of recruitment processes and strategies.

  1. Recruitment Funnel  

Definition: A model that describes the stages a candidate goes through in the recruitment process, from initial awareness and application to selection and hire.

Did you know? Only about 2% of applicants to a job posting will be invited for an interview. It shows how competitive it can be to move from one stage to the next in the recruitment funnel.

  1. Remote Work Analytics  

Definition: The analysis of data related to remote work, including productivity, communication patterns, and employee engagement, to optimise remote working strategies.

  1. Retention Rate  

Definition: A metric used to measure the percentage of employees that remain with an organisation over a given period.

Did you know? Companies with strong learning and development programs have been shown to improve employee retention rates by up to 30-50%

  1. Retention Strategy  

Definition: Approaches and practices aimed at keeping employees engaged and motivated to stay with an organisation, reducing turnover and fostering loyalty.

Did you know? An interesting example of a retention strategy is the “Stay Interview” concept. Unlike exit interviews, which are conducted after an employee decides to leave, stay interviews are proactive discussions held with current employees to understand what keeps them at the company and what might cause them to leave.


  1. Sentiment Analysis  

Definition: Sentiment analysis is the process of using natural language processing (NLP) techniques to determine the emotional tone behind a body of text, identifying whether it is positive, negative, or neutral.

  1. Skills Gap Analysis  

Definition: The process of identifying the differences between the skills required for a job or project and the actual skills possessed by employees, aiming to address these gaps.

Did you know? 64% of learning and development experts say that reskilling the existing workforce to bridge the skills gap is a top priority.

  1. Structured Data  

Definition: Data that is organised and formatted in a way that is easy for computers to search and analyse, such as databases and spreadsheets.

Did you know? Structured data goes back to the early days of computing in the 1960s and 1970s, with the development of relational databases by Edgar F. Codd, a researcher at IBM. Codd’s revolutionary idea was to store data in table formats, using rows and columns. Codd’s work essentially gave birth to SQL (Structured Query Language).

  1. Succession Planning  

Definition: The process of identifying and developing potential future leaders or senior managers to fill key positions within an organisation when they become available.

Did you know? A real-life example of successful succession planning is when Steve Jobs resigned in 2011 due to health reasons as the CEO of Apple Inc, Tim Cook, who was then the Chief Operating Officer and had been carefully groomed for leadership, seamlessly stepped into the CEO role. It helped Apple maintain its operational efficiency even amid significant disruptions at the helm.

  1. Supervised Learning  

Definition: Supervised learning is when a computer is taught to understand data using examples that already have answers.

Did you know? A supervised learning model identified that employees within the 30 to 40 age range have a notably lower attrition rate, decreasing as age increases.

  1. Survey Metrics  

Definition: Quantitative measures derived from surveys to assess various aspects of respondent attitudes, satisfaction, engagement, or behaviour.


  1. Talent Acquisition  

Definition: The process of identifying, attracting, and hiring skilled individuals to meet organisational needs and fill job vacancies.

Did you know? Google famously used billboards with a complex mathematical puzzle that, when solved, led to a secret website, effectively targeting and engaging with potential hires who had the problem-solving skills they valued.

  1. Time to Fill  

Definition: The amount of time it takes from when a job vacancy is announced to when an offer is accepted by a candidate.

Did you know? The global average Time to Fill is approximately 42 days. For high-demand technical roles, especially in IT and engineering, the Time to Fill could extend beyond 60 days. In contrast, roles with a larger talent pool, such as entry-level positions, might have a shorter Time to Fill, often around 30 days or less.

  1. Time-to-Hire  

Definition: The period between when a candidate first interacts with a company (e.g., applies for a job) to when they accept the job offer, measuring the speed of the hiring process.

Did you know? The average time to hire is 44 days across all industries.

  1. Training ROI  

Definition: Return on Investment in training, calculated by assessing the benefits (such as improved performance) against the costs of the training program.

Did you know? Training can lead substantial return on investment. For example, a soft skills training program yielded a 250% ROI within eight months post-completion, as per MIT Sloan School of Management.

  1. Turnover Rate  

Definition: The percentage of employees who leave an organisation over a specific period, typically on an annual basis.


  1. Unstructured Data  

Definition: Data that does not have a pre-defined data model or is not organised in a pre-defined manner, making it more complex to collect, process, and analyse.


  1. Virtual Onboarding  

Definition: The process of integrating new employees into an organisation through digital platforms and tools, especially relevant for remote positions.

Did you know? Gartner predicts that by 2025, approximately 10% of employees will undergo virtual onboarding.

  1. Voice of the Employee  

Definition: The collective feedback, opinions, and perspectives expressed by employees about their experiences, satisfaction, and concerns within the workplace.

Did you know? Workers who believe their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to do their best work.


  1. Wellness Programs  

Definition: Initiatives offered by employers to improve the health and well-being of employees, encompassing physical, mental, and emotional health.

  1. Work-Life Balance  

Definition: The equilibrium between professional work and personal activities, aiming to reduce stress and increase overall life satisfaction.

  1. Workforce Analytics  

Definition: The use of data analysis techniques to understand, improve, and optimise the workforce, including aspects like productivity, engagement, and retention.

  1. Workforce Planning  

Definition: Workforce planning is the method of making sure a company has the right employees with the right skills, in the right positions, at the right times to achieve its goals.

Did you know? Only 33% of organisations today effectively use data for workforce planning. 

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The People Analytics Dictionary: Essential Terms for People Ops Teams (Guide)