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New Course Introduces WSB Students to Growing Trend of People Analytics

By Clare Becker

November 20, 2018

Beginning Spring 2019, Wisconsin School of Business students will benefit from a new special topics course, “People Analytics,” developed and taught by Jirs Meuris, an assistant professor in the Department of Management and Human Resources.

Headshot of Jirs Meuris
Jirs Meuris, assistant professor of management and human resources

People analytics, also commonly referred to as “HR analytics,” is the process of taking the data companies collect and using it to solve their own human resource problems and business challenges. It’s been a growing trend over the past several decades and popularized by Google, Meuris says, adding that many of the top business schools now incorporate it into their curricula.

“It used to be that managers thought of making any employee decision as more of a gut feeling, an ‘I know my employee’ sort of thing,” Meuris says. “HR analytics came out as a push against that by saying, ‘we’re collecting all this data, can we make better decisions?’ That’s really what the course is about:  trying to make better decisions about people in organizations.”

The process of reading, analyzing, and applying the data to real-life problems is what Meuris does in his own research when he works with companies. The skills students learn are what they would use working as consultants for big firms like Deloitte or PricewaterhouseCoopers, he says. In addition to the people-analytics content, the course will include statistics and take place in the Finance and Analytics Lab, where students will gain experience using Stata, a statistics and data-science software program.

The class will combine both undergraduate and graduate students and will meet Wednesday mornings for a three-hour period during the Spring 2019 semester.