16 HR Metrics Smart HR Departments Track

October 21, 2013 Darcy Jacobsen

Last Friday we talked about some of the principles behind building a great HR dashboard, and today I wanted to share a few metrics I think are worth considering. Ultimately, in choosing your 8-12 metrics, you will have to rely on your own instincts and on feedback from those around you. To get you started, I’ve listed below some of your options—as well as some key metrics I think you should consider—that could bring more insight and life to your dashboard.

Recruitment Metrics:

If your HR group is currently gathering metrics, they’re likely based on recruitment. This would include metrics such as vacancies, average days open, cost per vacancy, cost per hire, temporary staffing, agency costs and search fees. Some companies also track hiring manager satisfaction and candidate satisfaction.


    1. Hiring manager interviews to offers ratio (by manager): Tracking how many interviews it takes to get to an average offer will give you a sense of how efficient recruitment is across your departments, and which managers might need assistance or guidance with their hiring processes.
    2. Yield ratio (percentage of hires by recruitment source): Are you tracking the relative efficiency of your recruitment sources to determine which are most effective and valuable for future investment? Shouldn’t you be?
    3. Employee referral rates by department or business units: One of the key questions NetPromoter uses to determine customer satisfaction scores is: “How likely is it that you would recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague?” Tracking actual referrals gives you a real time answer to this question when it comes to employee satisfaction., and a deep comparative insight about each area of your business.
    4.  Quality of hire:  The quality of hire metric is not an easy one to get at, but Steve Lowisz at ERE.com believes it is one of the most important hiring metrics you can track. He suggests using a formula that derives QoH by averaging job performance rating of new hires, the % of new hires reaching acceptable productivity with acceptable time frame, and the % of new hires retained after one year. I would argue you can also include the amount of recognition that new hires receive, to get a more complete picture of how the hire is regarded throughout the organization.

Retention Metrics:

Retention is another area many HR departments are already tracking. These stats might range from simple average tenure to metrics like 90-day retention rate, monthly or annual turnover rates and average turnover costs. This is also where many companies collect data from exit interviews.


    1. Retention rate of critical employees– It isn’t enough to have a high retention rate, if you’re still losing key talent. Use HCM tools and recognition data to identify and flag your key contributors, cultural energizers and future leaders, and then look specifically at your retention rates among those groups.
    2. High/Low performer retention differential – Likewise, it makes sense to do a comparison of departures by performance review ratings, to determine if there are patterns there that should be addressed.
    3. Resignation rates by department – Parsing resignation data by manager and department can highlight potential issues in a given group or with a given manager.

Compensation/Benefits Metrics:

Because it is directly related to money and the bottom line, Compensation and Benefits is a focal point for many senior executives. They want to be sure they are getting a maximum ROEI (Return on Employee Investment). Metrics here might include average compensation (or average compensation by employee level), benefit cost per employee, benefit as a percentage of salary, benefits as a percentage of revenue (or operating expenses), overtime, healthcare costs, or recognition spend.


    1. Appraisal rating-to-salary ratio: Get ahead of your voluntary turnover rate and ensure that your best employees won’t be tempted away by higher salaries by tracking the percentage of employees who are rated in the top performance appraisal level and who are paid above the average salary for their position (and vice versa).
    2. Recognition reach in key populations – Do your top employees feel appreciated at your company? Are they building critical relationships with peers and managers that will keep them happy and productive? How big is your winners circle where it matters? One simple way to see this is to track recognition reach for key groups like high potentials or flight risks.

Culture and Diversity Metrics:

More and more HR pros are taking closer note of culture and diversity metrics, in order to better measure and improve the experience of working in their organizations. Engagement and satisfaction have long been annual survey staples, but some companies are also employing short pulse surveys to keep tabs on those metrics more regularly. Companies are also tracking diversity—whether by race, military service or gender—by looking at (for example) how many women are in their workforce, new hire groups, or being promoted into management and executive levels. Union percentage is also another important indicator of worker population mix.


    1. Strength of company values- Use performance review data and real-time recognition data to measure the comparative strength of your company core values. Track by department, business unit or company-wide. If your R&D department is being recognized for “teamwork” but not “innovation,” you might have a problem on your hands.
    2. Employee happiness- Even a few years ago, employee happiness was considered fluffy and irrelevant. Now companies are beginning to understand the enormous impact of employee happiness and its effect on morale and productivity. Consider pulse surveys, or at the very least adding a few questions to your satisfaction or engagement surveys to measure this critical stat. (Also, consider attending next Thursday’s webinar on happiness, co-hosted by Jessica Miller-Merrell and our own Derek Irvine.)
    3. Average workforce age/projected retirements – Tracking average workforce age can give you some important psychographic detail on your employees and help you to estimate and prepare for future talent and leadership crunches due to retirement.

Staffing/Performance/Productivity Metrics 

Staffing metrics are bread and butter numbers that connect your workforce and the results that they drive. It begins with simple headcount and encompasses metrics such as absenteeism, workforce productivity (dollars spent on people/revenue or profit generated), performance goals  (number of performance goals met or exceeded / total number of performance goals), revenue per employee, and labor costs as a % of revenues. It also might triangulate against stats like operating margin, profit and number of defects.


    1. HR to staff ratio (employees / HR team members): One thing HR practitioners sometimes forget to do is look out for their own needs. Be sure you’re adequately tracking the ratio of HR to staff to ensure that your team grows along with your business.

Development Metrics

Employee development is poised to become one of the most critical issues of the decade, as increasingly development is being positioned as a differentiator of employee brand. Metrics from this group include stats such as: number of promotions from within, average length of time before promotion, average salary raise per promotion, percentage of employees receiving training, number of certifications, number of training development hours, training cost per employee, and stats on tuition reimbursement.


    1. Employee satisfaction with development – Use survey data to track the percentage of your employees who are satisfied with the learning and growth opportunities provided by your organization.
    2. Social graphs and percentage of employees reached by recognition– Ensure that you are facilitating communication and maximizing positive feedback loops in your organization by encouraging bonds of recognition among employees. Recognition analytics will let you visualize real-time relationships and communication among workgroups. The data can also be mapped against performance ratings to highlight potential problem areas.

Health, Safety & Sustainability Metrics

Health, safety and sustainability are other rising concerns for many organizations, and therefore deserve a spot on some HR dashboards. Statistics might include: worker’s comp incident rates and cost per employee, number of documented safety violations, number of accidents, wellness campaign participation and results,  safety incident rates, safety training expenses per employee, and recycling initiatives.


  1. Number of safety/wellness/sustainability award nominations – Awards and recognition are a great way of seeing real-time engagement in your initiatives, because they are a measure not only of the achievement of those receiving the awards, but the commitment of those who are nominating their peers.

These are just some of the forward-looking metrics you might consider including in your dashboards. In addition, there will also be industry-specific metrics you may want to consider tracking for your organization (such as per diem time for healthcare systems, or intellectual property filings for R&D organizations).

Can you think of any creative or insightful metrics you’d add to this list?


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