Metrics: how do you measure up?

If
you’ve taken part in HR strategy meetings or attended any industry conferences
in the last few years, chances are you will have noticed the amount of time
devoted to the topic of ‘metrics’ – measuring the company’s data. Jamie Barber,
business consultant at e-HR provider IntroNet, outlines nine steps to metrics
excellence.

1.
Re-examine your business objectives

Before
doing anything else, revisit your organisation’s strategic business objectives.
While there is some value in each function measuring it’s own performance, the
overriding priority should be the satisfaction of the end customer (either
internal or external).

2.
Take the ‘CUP’ test

Give
each set of data the ‘CUP’ test. Does it make a contribution to overall
organisational business objectives? Does it provide an insight into whether
organisational resources are being utilised at their optimum level? Does it
make any assessment of productivity, which could lead to efficiency gains and
therefore a better customer experience? If each set of data does not address at
least one of these three criteria, then question the usefulness of continuing
to collect it.

3.
Keep it simple

It
has been suggested that ‘information overload’ is a greater threat to the
effectiveness of HR than a complete lack of measurement. Research has suggested
that in order to focus on the priority areas, about five key metrics is a good
place to start, although the exact number will vary depending on strategic
business objectives.

4.
Decide what types of metrics to capture

Metrics
fall into three principal categories: historical, real-time and
forward-looking. In order to present a comprehensive picture, your chosen
metrics suite should ideally contain all three types of figures, though the
exact proportions will depend on your industry type and strategic business
objectives.

5.
Establish a benchmark

The
current state of affairs should be measured so that the future impact of any
changes can be assessed. You may have some idea where you’re heading, but if
you don’t know your starting point on the map you’re still very likely to get
lost. You could also look at benchmarking your organisation against other
similarly sized organisations or industry ‘best of breeds’.

6.
Integrate data collection into existing workflows

Avoid
burdening staff with extra workloads. Data should be collected automatically
without the need for manual maintenance of parallel systems, otherwise you will
decrease the chances of collecting a comprehensive set of data.

7.
Allocate resource for analysis

Only
by undertaking rigorous analysis will HR be able to transform data into
meaningful and valuable strategic information. However, avoid ‘paralysis by
analysis’- make the results too complex and they may be dismissed out of hand
as being too scientific or too academic. Graphical representations with short
textual summaries make for greater accessibility and readability.

8.
Have the power to act

The
gathering of metrics is a futile exercise in administration if HR lacks the
teeth to act promptly on the findings. For example, if the metrics indicate
that retention rates would be dramatically improved by increasing
performance-related bonuses but HR has no means of prompting this remedial
action, then a potentially valuable tool has been wasted.

9.
Close the loop

When
initially defining the metrics suite, ensure that a review date is built in.
For seasonal cycles (for example, graduate recruitment), it would be advisable
to build up statistics over a number of years. If a metric is enhanced
following a review, make this clear in all future reports so that readers
analysing historical trends are under no illusion as to what they are comparing.

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