The HR analyst plays a crucial role in collecting, structuring, analyzing, and reporting on HR processes and data. In this article, we will discuss the key competencies for an HR analyst’s job, how to become one, career paths, and salary levels.
Topics in this article
1) HR analyst tasks and competencies
2) How to become an HR analyst
3) Difference between an HR analyst and HR business partner
4) HR analyst salary
5) HR analyst career path
6) HR analyst example job description
HR analyst tasks and competencies
In this section, we’ll list the main tasks and competencies for the HR data analyst. Note that the analyst has a broad role and – depending on the organization – will be asked to focus on different tasks.
Quite a few organizations are looking for an HR analyst with predominantly soft skills. This makes the analyst’s function profile very similar to an HR business partner. Yet other organizations are really looking for a data analyst role. Be aware of this if you apply for such a job!
This also means that you very rarely see an analyst who is doing data analysis for 100% of their job. They are usually involved in other operational tasks as well.
A funny thing we’ve noticed is that the more ‘data’ is mentioned in the job title, the more data-oriented the job usually is. Although there is no official job role, an HR analyst is usually less data-oriented than an HR data analyst, who is again less data-oriented than an HR data scientist. The latter is usually occupied with analyzing data full-time.
1. Business acumen
Business acumen is becoming increasingly important for HR roles. The same holds true for the HR analyst.
Before you analyze data, you need to know what project you will work on and how the data analysis will impact the business. Business acumen is an essential skill for any analyst who is involved in either simple data analysis or in an end-to-end analytics project.
2. Communication & consultation
The second skill is communication and consultation. Whether you’re spending most of your time analyzing data or only very little, you need to talk to the business, manage stakeholders and their expectations, and communicate results of an analytics project to the relevant audiences.
3. Relationship management
As an analyst, it is key to manage relationships and stakeholders. Expectation management is a requirement for analytics success. In addition, you need to keep the business involved in your analytics project and keep them up to date in progress and potential setbacks.
4. HR Expertise
Whether you’re more on the business partner side of the analyst role, or crunching numbers every single day, HR expertise is an essential skill. This expertise touches almost everything you do in your job.
HR expertise can be divided into three key areas:
- Knowledge of the science behind what we do in HR
- Knowledge of HR best practices
- Understanding of the key HR processes
5. Data analysis
The HR data analyst is involved in the basics of data-driven HR in the organization. For most organizations, this entails (ad hoc) reporting and dashboarding.
In order to accurately report on HR data, the analyst is involved in the aggregation of data, maintaining HR data quality, and the analysis of data.
Depending on the data maturity of the organization, these reports can be ad hoc. Ad hoc reporting means that the information has to be manually retrieved from the systems for reporting and analysis. This kind of data often needs to be cleansed as well – which may take a lot of time.
More mature organizations have automated this process. This makes reporting less time consuming and the analyst can focus on analyses that add more value than basic reporting, like predictive analyses.
Competencies required for this include a strong attention to detail and a strong drive to use data to answer business questions.
6. HR systems & implementation
HR data comes from HR systems, often referred to as the Human Resources Information System (HRIS). These transactional systems contain most of the data that the HR analyst works with.
Implementing, maintaining, and updating these systems is part of the analyst’s responsibility.
7. Global and cultural awareness
HR data is almost never local. As an analyst, you work with global data. Global and cultural awareness is essential to understanding where data is coming from and how cultural differences impact HR and data capturing practices.
How to become an HR analyst
The standard requirement for an HR analyst position is domain experience in HR. HRM studies or a background in industrial and organizational psychology are usually considered highly relevant.
Alternatively, a background in economics, statistics, or analytics is also considered. People with these kinds of backgrounds bring a unique set of quantitative skills that most people with an HRM background are missing. This background often requires complementary training in HRM practices.
Work experience in HR is always a pro and so is HRIS system experience. Additionally, relevant experience with the tools and systems used by the organization also counts heavily in your favor. Tools include Tableau, PowerBI, Qlik, SAP, SuccessFactors, et cetera.
A must-have skill is proficiency in MS Excel. This is still used in most organizations and an understanding of how to combine worksheets and analyze large amounts of data using Pivot Tables are usually considered elementary.
Difference between an HR data analyst and HR business partner
We already hinted a few times about the similarities between the HR analyst and the HR business partner’s job.
Where the analyst’s job focuses primarily on the collection, analysis, and reporting of data, the business partner (BP) is more involved in communication with line managers and helping to solve their HR related problems. In practice, the BP relies for 90% on soft skills, while the analyst relies just as much on harder (data) skills as on soft skills, if not more.
This means that the HR BP is an internal consultant who helps the manager achieve business objectives. Sometimes this work is very operational, sometimes it’s more tactical – but it is very applied to the business. In case the BP and manager run into problems that can be solved using data, the HR analyst comes in.
The analyst helps to define the problem and leverages data to solve it using the skills described previously.
Because the BP is increasingly trained in analytics and has to be able to interpret data to actively advise managers, the roles become diffused and that’s why you sometimes will find a company asking for an HR analyst while they are actually looking or a business partner.
HR analyst Salary (entry level, average salary)
According to Payscale.com, the salary of an analyst working in the US ranges from $40,000 to $76,000, depending on experience, with an average of $55,000.
The majority (50%) of employees have 1-4 years of experience. 24% has 5-9 years of experience. This is also an indication of the increase in importance and prevalence of the analyst’s job – as the job was almost non-existent 15 years ago.
HR analyst career path
It is hard to map a well-defined career path in today’s world. Usually, you start as a junior analyst and can grow your way to a senior analyst position.
The data-driven mindset of an analyst is increasingly popular and looked for in management positions.
Career paths to becoming HR manager and HR director are available, as well as horizontal paths towards (senior) Human Resources Generalist, or the more specialized Human Resources Information System Analyst and HRIS manager.
HR analyst example job description
This is an example HR analyst job description. Feel free to use it for your own organization. Do read through the requirements and add/remove company specific demands.
- Excellent communication skills and business acumen.
- Optimizing and implementing (new) data processes and systems.
- Maintain HR data tools, reporting and dashboards.
- Produce and deliver standard (monthly, quarterly, and annual) and customized HR reports.
- Respond to HR data requests on an ad hoc basis by gathering, analyzing, and reporting relevant data from various sources.
- Maintain HR data integrity by ensuring accuracy and consistency of input data. Audit HR data and troubleshoot irregularities. Support data governance processes.
- Develop & maintain a data glossary,
- Responsible for master data entry.
- Partner with HR and Payroll on system upgrades and analyses
- Responsible for addressing a high volume of system-related activities in a timely fashion while maintaining a high level of quality and internal customer satisfaction
- Bachelor or master in HR, I/O psychology, economics, econometrics, social science or business administration
- X+ years of relevant HR experience
- X+ years of relevant HRIS system experience
- X+ years of relevant data analytics experience
- You can analyze existing and newly collected data
- Expert in MS Excel
- Experience with data visualizations using either R/Tableau/PowerBI
- Experience with statistical modeling and descriptive statistics
- If it can be automated, you will
- Working knowledge of SQL
That’s it for the HR analyst. The role is very diverse and job descriptions between companies can differ significantly on the level of technical skill that’s involved.
If you want to learn more about some of the basic data skills to become an HR analyst, check the HR Analyst Course at the HR Analytics Academy. In this course, you’ll learn how to report and analyze HR data.