Measuring Up: HR Metrics

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The business world today seems laser focused on both productivity and profitability. Since this is the typical time of year when the previous fiscal year’s performance is being reviewed and new goals for 2015 are beginning to be implemented, I think it is important that we take time to determine how we in the HR profession are supporting our company through HR metrics.

I’m sure it can feel like leadership-defined annual goals for revenue and productivity are counterintuitive when compared to the people-centric side of what we do. Add the need to define and collect useful information on a variety of topics into the mix and it can all be a bit overwhelming when it comes to trying to highlight our performance. In the case of an account executive or salesperson, the idea of determining return on investment (ROI) or revenue impact is a bit more direct as they bring in business and sales; for us, we will need to take it an extra step to show how our efforts translate into benefits for our companies.

The idea of HR metrics is a broad concept so it is important to start with the separation of what we are looking for into 2 steps:

  1. Define the data you want to collect.
  2. Define the insight we want to gain.

Casting Our Data Net

The first step will allow us to collect measurable, repeatable outputs that we need to start tracking for use in the second step. These data points are a type of metric in their own right, and to add context to “measurable, repeatable outputs” a few examples we would want to collect are:

  • Number of individuals that we have hired in a given timeframe.
  • Time spent in hiring (from job posting to position filled).
  • Time spent on-boarding new hires.
  • Time before an employee is fully integrated (producing in their role).
  • Number of individuals that leave our company in a given timeframe.
  • Time spent filling out necessary documentation.

Additional variations will come to you the more you look into the programs and processes you work with. For instance, at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), we have implemented a wellness incentive program called Healthy Awards to encourage our employees to take an active role in pursuing a healthy lifestyle. A good metric here would be to measure Healthy Award dollars earned relative to population-based improvements in biometric risk factors like high blood pressure, body mass index and fasting glucose. We know that having a healthy lifestyle is a win-win for our employees and company and having insight into this program lets us know if we are doing a good job of promoting the program for all the good it can do.

Of course, all of this depends on making sure that we are consistent with data collection. Being diligent with time sheets across your organization is essential and having well thought out tracking options will give employees the ability to easily provide the data you need. Project tracking tools allow you to annotate your day-to-day tasks and, for larger companies, more thorough ISO-approved project tracking options might already be in place. Learning how to keep the manual efforts to a minimum while still getting useful information will be a key balancing act and may take a bit of trial and error.

And Then…?

Our second step involves asking the question: “What do you want to know MORE about?”

While the focus of conversation has been surrounding annual goals, understanding what we are doing every day is a good thing, so ask yourself this question and then check to see if what you have collected is giving you enough to meet your needs. Data points on time or activities are great stand-alone hr metrics; but, additional insight can also be gained through the right kind of calculation.

  • The first and most ubiquitous calculation are cost calculators. By taking the cycle time of an activity and the internal cost-per-hour for the employee doing it, you can determine the impact on costs for an internal HR team member to do what we do.
  • The second type of calculation is based on productivity. With a measurable output like documentation or total number of employees hired and an understanding of the time associated, we can see if we need to streamline processes.

There are several different choices out there for simple cost/percentage calculators to assist with this and to take out the guesswork: SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) has a fairly comprehensive list here. I would highly recommend taking the time to look through their list to get a feel for what is available.

Know When To Ask An Expert

This is only the tip of the iceberg; the field of Human Resource Accounting (HRA) is extensive and touches on all aspects of an organization’s employees including these hr metrics. For small businesses and large, having an expert in HRA available to engage can be hugely beneficial. Meeting our goals and increasing our productivity not only helps to keep our companies healthy, but also makes sure we are doing the best possible work with the time available for our employees. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to ensure success!

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