What Pregnancy Taught Me About Workforce Analytics & Big Data

Workforce Analytics Is Not Big Data

Yesterday I had my first dr.’s appointment since hubby found out we’re expecting baby number 2. It’s been more than 5 years since I had my daughter, Ryleigh.  It was  apparent from the beginning when it comes to technology and science how much has really changed. The increase in technology, information and advancements made for a great example between workforce planning, analytics and big data as I grow my own family. There’s a huge disconnect between what workforce analytics and big data actually are and are not. There are millions of books, blog posts, apps and opinions on how to measure and what you should do or not do. And maybe that leaves you overwhelmed and confused. I’m here to tell you that’s absolutely okay to be and say.

High Risk Hiring & Pregnancy

The doctor walked me through the different genetic tests she recommended for me and my baby as I am considered a high risk pregnancy because I am over 35 years of age. There were recommendations, required testing and lots and lots and lots of opinions, information and recommendations on what I should be or should not be doing. Two of the new tests looked for Trisomy 18 and 21 which are indicators for chromosomal abnormalities. There were blood tests, saliva tests and alternatives to amniocentesis I began to break out in a sweat. The doctor continued to discuss not only tests but risks associated with such. Numbers like 25 out of 1,000 babies and increases in complications due to the emergency cesarean I had to have with Ryleigh which meant possible concerns and risks for the one now on the way. All I heard is that I may lose the baby, and that this might just be last shot because I am over 35.

As I sat on the exam table in my uncomfortable and airy paper robe, I was overwhelmed. I was struck by the sheer amount of new information, genetic testing and resources that are recommended. I couldn’t keep up. The numbers, the information put me over the edge. It is so intimidating and a lot more blood to be drawn than before which is why I started to feel light headed and just not right. So I proceeded to faint on the exam table in front of my new doctor, husband and 5 year old daughter, Ryleigh. Not a single blood was drawn and the information and possibilities were too much. I fainted so my body could reset. When I came to I was covered in sweat, confused and embarrassed once I understood that I had actually just fainted and came to. I was reeling from all the testing, information and steps me and my husband would have to take over the next nine months. It wasn’t making a lot of sense. I needed time to think, to absorb and consider my options in order to build a strategy and plan to have a healthy baby.

Workforce analytics are like my laundry list of tests. They are purely for information purposes without any number crunching, recommendations or indications in how things correlate. These numbers give the recruiter, the business leader and HR professional information to begin to pull from to formulate and base future decisions to use. Big data, on the other hand takes my personal medical history, information from past pregnancies and test information like my glucose levels and blood pressure to help create a likely outcome which will lead to recommended next steps. Should I schedule an indication or have that second cesarean surgeries. What are the likelihood of success and how will these decision impact me and my baby.

HR Metrics Are Not Big Data

That’s the difference between big data and workforce analytics. Analytics aren’t predictive. HR metrics and formulas to help you analyze things like cost per hire and turnover. There are pieces to the puzzle in helping you make the best decisions and find correlations between the analytics and metrics you are using. So you can look at the big picture in order to make the best decision for your work, your team or in my case my family.


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jocelyn Cook says

    Jessica – I’m so impressed you were able to turn your experience into an example of the difference between HR analytics and Big Data! Having been through the overwhelming flood of information, “scary news” and tests (I was 39 and my daughter was prenatally diagnosed with T21 and a congenital heart defect) i understand your emotions! Just wanted to let you know that often the medical community makes things seem so much more dire than what they really are. Monitoring is good, especially when there’s a chance of “high-risk”, but often the information can feel like scare tactics. I’m thankful for all the close monitoring they did at the end of my pregnancy because it saved my daughter’s life. Now she’s a thriving, vibrant 3 year old! 🙂 Congratulations on your pregnancy!



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