Using HR metrics and data can be a useful strategy to uncover areas of opportunity and improvement, establish yourself or department as a strategic partner, and demonstrate your case when recommending new courses of action or programs. Here are 7 ways to effectively use HR metrics in your organization.
1. Have the right data…at the right time.
It’s important to track information and be able to present data and metrics. You never know when this data will be needed by you or your management team, so track well and often. Any analyst will speak from experience that being prepared with the numbers people are looking for is the key to success. You may not need to calculate or showcase them regularly, but have the information readily available so that you can tabulate the metrics when they need to be presented. Have the right data and the right time, and you’ll be hero in your business.
2. Select the most meaningful metrics.
There are plenty of metrics to consider, but not all of them are created equal. For example, consider turnover, which many HR professionals rely on to tell the whole story of their workplace’s effectiveness. Turnover can be measured in a number of ways – new hire turnover, voluntary turnover, and involuntary turnover, among others; but for some organizations, turnover isn’t a meaningful metric. Sometimes it’s too non-specific. Additionally, it may not affect the bottom line or business objectives. A good rule of thumb when selecting metrics is to: Track what is valued. Track what is actionable. Track what best tells the story of what’s happening in the workplace.
3. Remember to measure the intangibles.
You may think that many aspects of HR can’t be measured because of all of the intangible aspects of the workplace, such as quality of relationships between employees and their supervisors, engagement or commitment, culture, or even trust in leaders. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many “softer” aspects of the business that can be measured accurately through a variety of means, including observation, surveys, and assessments. Sometimes these “intangibles” can also manifest themselves in objective data.
4. Speak the language of management.
Know what your management values. When presenting metrics data to back your decisions, speak the language of your managers and executives. If their focus is budget impact, industry comparisons, cash flow, sales, and/or revenue, be sure to convey how your data impacts all of these. With managers, specifically, make the information meaningful to their specific segment of the workforce.
5. Keep it simple, but insightful.
It’s rarely about how many numbers you have and how complex they are, but rather the impact of these and the insights you have gleaned from them. Make the information simple to understand and preferably visual, but useful and practical. Complement your numbers with concrete examples and try to always include a comparison – an external or internal benchmark – to help stakeholders understand what the numbers mean.
6. Connect the dots.
Connect the dots by explaining how your numbers and information relate. Explore relationships between data points and current workplace processes and programs (i.e. how a performance management process is linked to improved performance ratings, how training programs are linked to higher product quality, etc.) as managers and executives alike may not see the relationships between these. You must translate these relationships into actionable items, explaining how the data point can be impacted or improved.
7. Don’t assume you need an HRIS.
There’s no question that an HRIS can be a very useful tool for efficiently collecting metrics, but it’s not the only way and plenty of organizations use simple Excel spreadsheets to collect information. Don’t let not having an HRIS or other fancy dashboards and tools stop you from measuring important aspects of your business and workforce that will boost the effectiveness of your HR department.
There are countless HR metrics and data points, but more importantly than collecting these metrics is being able to use them effectively to help advance your career, department, and organization.
If you’re looking for HR metrics as well as information and examples of HR best practices, check out our NorthCoast 99 Winner Reports, a comprehensive benchmark report that helps you compare your workplace against the top ones in the region and also provides employers with great ideas and information for how to improve their workplaces.