Quest for people metrics is not an impossible mission

Ruth Spellman is absolutely correct in her assertion that “it has got to be possible to come up with some [people] metrics” (Personnel Today, 4 October).

Most of the accepted accounting metrics are sector-specific and there is absolutely no good reason why people metrics should not be the same. Providing it is sector-specific, what is wrong with metrics such as:

  • turnover per employee
  • EBIT (earnings before interest and tax)/PBIT (profit before interest and tax) per employee
  • training and development costs as a proportion of either turnover or cost of sales?

If HR was indeed a ‘strategic’ function, Spellman’s observations on who would be leading the drive to develop standards would not hold true. Unfortunately, her observations and those of Ian Foster (Letters, Personnel Today, 4 October) are largely correct.

Many HR practitioners still think our primary role is to develop ‘people-friendly’ policies that give everyone a warm glow. This is a nice-to-have. The reality is that HR’s role is to maximise the cost-effective use of our most flexible resource – our people.

Robert Purse
Managing consultant

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