Why Don’t HR People Get Metrics?

I’m work with some very talented HR people, very good at what they do and very passionate about their jobs. But the one thing that I have found they all have in common is their lack of understanding or passion about identifying, driving and publishing metrics.

I thought this might have been a limited scale problem in my first HR role. We had recruiters who had no idea their cost per hire or days per hire (and didn’t care anyway). Headcount reports that weren’t trusted (and weren’t accurate, either). Little to no energy put into tracking our performance, with a few exceptions. (I might note the exceptions were the members of the team who were consistently seen as the top performers. Sadly there were not enough of them to move the pile forward, and the resistance was never overcome.)

I spent a good deal of time this month talking about metrics, why they matter, and what makes a good measure of performance. For me, it’s not about the “obvious” things. I don’t care about the number of positions we filled this year, the cost of training materials or number of benefits applications processed in a week. What matters to me are predictive measures, which is where we start to lose people.

So we hired 100 people this month. Fine. Why? Did people leave or are we growing? Let’s say they are replacements. Find out why. Find the measures that will tell us people may leave soon, not that they have left. Low engagement scores are a good one. Percentage of performance reviews completed on time is better, since it gives us good insight into the manager’s effort in engaging their direct reports. How about management turnover? How does that impact overall churn for a group? If it’s a high correlation, we know that we need to spend extra time with a team that just got a new head.

Why track participation rates in benefits? Is that a good predictor of retention? Future costs? What happens if you want to change a benefit? How many people will be impacted?

Too much money spent on a training class? Who is in it, and what impact do they have on the future performance of the company? What’s the historic change in performance for attendees? (Yes, HR sometimes needs to care about job performance outside the department.)

Any other good predictive measures being used out there?

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