The rise of the HR analyst

Only a few years ago, the vast majority of analytics professionals would have been found in finance or IT departments and it would have been rare to find someone in an HR team specialising in people analytics. In fact, even as recently as 2018, the role of an HR analyst didn’t appear on our annual salary guides.

Yet, even before the global pandemic, this landscape was already starting to change.  

Large organisations were beginning to recognise the critical role HR analysts could play in interpreting data to help them make faster and smarter decisions about hiring, training and creating strategies to improve employee retention and performance. In fact, a LinkedIn report, The Rise of Analytics in HR, found that 69% of companies with 10,000+ employees had a people analytics team before the pandemic.

The impact of COVID-19 has accelerated this process. In 2020, boardrooms across the country fully recognised the vital role of HR in getting their company and its employees through this crisis, with policies on home working put into action at lightning speed.  

This has given greater licence to HR teams looking to expand and modernise practices. Many HR departments have been collecting data for years. But the correct interpretation of that data can allow businesses to make strategic decisions giving invaluable insight and advantage.

Having this grasp of data in a HR team means that even though remote working and extended periods of furlough have increased distance between employee and employer, companies can make sure they understand and react to the needs of their employees. This has been a vital tool in tackling mental and physical health and it is one we imagine businesses will now see as an important part of the HR function.

The pandemic has meant we are seeing a rapid evolution in the structure of HR teams – which many of us were preparing to arrive in about five years. And while the titles of talented HR professionals remain largely the same, the job responsibilities and skills are shifting and changing.  

Many HR professionals are enhancing their skillset to ensure they can meet the change in the human resources environment. For all HR professionals, being able to gather and interpret data is a skill they need to acquire, or risk being left behind.

The value of understanding data is reflected in the rising rates of pay for HR analysts seen in our 2021 Human Resources Salary Guide. This year, we expect the salaries for HR analysts to start to push towards £50,000, in some instances, with a predicted increase in salary of 3%. This is higher than the average 1.9% increase for HR.

Only a few years ago, people weren’t even talking about HR analysts, now HR teams need an analyst for themselves if they are going to increase and track performance and support employee wellbeing. As more and more businesses embrace the use of people data for driving HR policy and business strategy, we will continue to see the rise of the HR analyst, with a growing number of these specialist roles and higher rates of pay.


Bukola Odofin is a human resources expert at Reed