HR data: the top five metrics for 2015

With the ability to manage and interpret data becoming increasingly vital for HR professionals, new analysis from XpertHR Benchmarking reveals the five most valuable HR data sets for 2015.

The slide show above displays the five most frequently accessed HR metrics by users of XpertHR Benchmarking over the past year – including the mean, median and upper/lower quartiles – plus an overview of the headline readings on these metrics from XpertHR’s key benchmarks dashboard.

The structuring and resourcing of HR departments is a key concern for the profession, with the ratio of employees to HR staff heading the list of the metrics. Many organisations accelerated the streamlining of HR departments during the recession, and this process remains ongoing in some sectors. But across the whole economy, the median number of employees per HR staff member fell from 118 in 2007 to 70 in 2014, XpertHR analysis finds.

Rates of labour turnover and sickness absence are also high on the HR data agenda. Long-term analysis of these metrics reveals that absence rates have fallen since the start of the recession, while turnover rates are edging up as economic recovery drives a strengthening labour market.

XpertHR Benchmarking editor Michael Carty commented: “The selection of the top metrics sought by XpertHR Benchmarking users in 2014 covers a diverse range of topics.

“This reflects the need for reliable and up-to-date figures to inform decisions on the full spectrum of people management activities.”

XpertHR Benchmarking users are able to access and drill down into the complete results for each of the top five HR metrics and more than 5,000 further HR data points from more than 150 survey data sets.

13 Responses to HR data: the top five metrics for 2015

  1. Adam Mark Nuckley 23 Jan 2015 at 10:33 am #

    Opening headline: “Top five metrics in 2015″
    Opening paragraph: “Most valuable… in 2015″
    Second paragraph: “Most frequently accessed in 2014″

    Mildly misleading there, which matters when talking about metrics when the basic criteria for getting it right is clear communication and accuracy.

    Also the ratio of HR employees to staff increased, not fell. HR went from 0.8% of employees to 1.4% of employees in the ratios given.

    • HR Direction 23 Jan 2015 at 1:24 pm #

      I have to wonder about the motivation of monitoring the ratio: employees to HR staff. If it is genuinely being used to measure the effectiveness of the HR Function (and being correctly measured) then fine. But all too often I hear it being quoted, without understanding of use. The activities an HR function delivers will affect the ratio, the business context and environment is likely to affect ratio. HR Contribution measurements being used by anyone?

      • Michael Carty 26 Jan 2015 at 9:42 am #

        You raise an interesting and potentially troubling point here. How widespread is the lack of understanding of this
        metric, in your experience? And what do you think would be the best way to counter it?

        • Adam Mark Nuckley 26 Jan 2015 at 9:49 am #

          The biggest issue facing HR in adopting better use of data is actually using it to provide genuine insight rather than simply parroting numbers to the business. Once some relatively basic administrative hurdles have been passed any organisation can report on a fairly wide range of metrics, but unless the right context and story are built around these figures they won’t add much value to the wider business.

          • Michael Carty 26 Jan 2015 at 1:17 pm #

            You make a very good point there, Adam. In your view, is there any one action HR could take – or any one area on which the profession could prioritise – to encourage and achieve “better use of data”?

          • Adam Mark Nuckley 26 Jan 2015 at 1:48 pm #

            Interestingly, my answer is partially prompted by my new role as a Governor at my son’s school. In Governor training the first thing you are taught is that before every action you should think “does this help the pupils?”.

            Personally, my first thought and recommended ‘one action’ with HR data is to ask if your reporting passes the “So what?” test. If you can’t answer someone asking you “So what?” when you hand over a report or update on business metrics, then you basically aren’t providing useful insight which informs and can be actioned or demonstrates outcomes from previous actions taken.

          • Michael Carty 27 Jan 2015 at 2:34 pm #

            Great comment, Adam. The “So what?” test is an extremely useful one to take into account when embarking on using HR data (and, indeed, it’s arguably applicable to most aspects of modern working life).

            Very pleased to hear that Governor training is proving so fruitful, too!

      • JJH 30 Jan 2015 at 2:40 pm #

        In my experience, the ratio of HR staff to employees is a meaningless measure. The numbers of HR staff needs to reflect the amount of ‘people activity’ (especially labour turnover) in the business.

        Why is ‘annual leave’ important? Why no mention of training/L&D?

        • Michael Carty 9 Feb 2015 at 8:34 am #

          Thank you for the comment, JJH. What would be the most meaningful HR metric in your experience, please?

    • Personnel Today 26 Jan 2015 at 9:01 am #

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Adam, and for taking such a close look at our data, too.

      As regards the headline, the XpertHR Benchmarking traffic data – on which the top five HR metrics listed here are based – cover the complete 2014 calendar year. These figures were of course only available once 2014 was over. The title and introductory lines reflect the point of view that this is an annual dataset that could only exist once 2015 had begun.

      Thanks also for your observation on the changing ratios of HR staff members to employees. The relevant sentence has been reworded accordingly.

      • Adam Mark Nuckley 26 Jan 2015 at 9:46 am #

        Thanks for taking the time to respond. If you do an article on metrics you’ll get the pedantic analysts coming out of the woodwork… 😉

  2. Guest 26 Jan 2015 at 9:46 am #

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. If you do an article on metrics you’ll get the pedantic analysts… 😉

  3. Bob Hicks 27 Feb 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    HR needs to utilise more data if it is to contribute more to organization strategy and develolpment. It is disappointing that the same old metrics are still popular; they might help to highlight areas for cost reduction, but what about developing metrics that tell us about what our people are good at/not so good at; how good are our managers at developing their staff; where do we need to focus our training and development spend; what is the correlation between our skills sets now and where we need them to be…..?