Strong Human Resources professionals understand the need to be strategic by using data to understand workforce trends and presenting data as business justification for decision-making. The degree of how strategic a Human Resources professional can be, depends on the data at their fingertips.  It also depends on how fearless an HR professional is to play with data, use data points to tell a story, learn new metrics, pair metrics, and seek more data points. The end game is enhanced credibility, better strategic planning, and precise targeting of financial and human resources. 

In the past, basic workforce metrics included turnover, retention, and compensation statistics.We could all generate them with a HRIS export and excel. However, today we have access torobust retention, performance, compensation, and human resources metrics that literally provide the data and picturesque graphs to explain and retain key points. 

My first introduction toworkforce metrics was a measure called “new hire turnover” which is turnover within the first 12 months of hire.That istoo dynamic of a metric to calculate with an export and excel. Yet it can save a lot of money because it reveals if recruitment efforts are yielding high cost recruitment efforts, sign on bonuses, referral bonuses, and training that walks out of the door within months of hire. Reasons for high new hire turnover can be resolved and may include be poor hiring decisions, elevated job qualifications, misunderstanding of job duties, ineffective leadership, misunderstanding of pay or benefits, work group morale, onboarding, and problems with new hire training. 

"Just as Human Resources is best practiced as a coalition of services rather than silo, metrics are meant to be used together and their pairing is limitless."

If new hire turnover is higher in one department than another, you can use other workforce metrics to piece the big picture together.Specifically, for a department with high new hire turnover, you would want to look ataverage comp-ratio to determine if pay or wage compression may be part of the problem. Look at time to promotion,which may reveal that there is a perception that advancement is not practical.  The overtimemetricmay identify if there is too much overtime or not enough.  Metrics showing hiring trends to convey if there’s a revolving door,number of applicantsmay be low because of leadership reputation, ortermination reasons showing more involuntary terminations because of inflated expectations; allow HR professionals to piece together plausible hypotheses for discussions with leadership. Further, HR can dice the new hire turnover metric to see if the largest impacted population is minorities, women or people who identify with a disability and proactively deal with discrimination issues before a complaint arises. 

Today, in the midst of a labor shortage, recruitment metrics showing how applicants learned about job openings and how theyprogress through the staffing process tells employers where to post for specific jobs.Metric showing source of applicants by job title may reveal more applications were generated through employee referral than social media. However, the source of hires by employee referral versus social media was not as high. Therefore, recruiters may want to target theirefforts and financial resources on social mediafor that specific position.Workforce metrics reveals different success rates with applicant and hire sourceby position based on various recruitment methods. 

Trend hire metrics can show job vacancies over time by month, quarter or year to allow HR professional to ramp up recruitment efforts on a timely basis.Metrics showing termination trends can also help with planning for recruitment. Metrics that show time to hire can help manage expectations of hiring managers who believe their position should have been filled yesterday. 

Succession planning is another opportunity to strategically use metrics if you are able to report on incumbents in key positions and those identified as key replacements. HR professionals can monitor turnover of individuals named in succession plans in addition to average comp ratio, tenure, age, and time to promotion. Further, use of metrics that show time to retirement and number of individuals nearing retirement in 1 year, 3 years and 5 years within a company or department will aid planning efforts to develop internal talent.   

Just as Human Resources is best practiced as a coalition of services rather than silo, metrics are meant to be used together and their pairing is limitless. You can look at market pay of a job and turnover associated with that job to understand if your pay is creating problems keeping talent.Cost of labor and overtime may help a company determine if overtime may be more cost effective than hiring more talent. You can look at metrics showing pay, comp ratio, and time to promotionto better understandretention rates. Knowledge is power and in today’s HR world, robust workforce metrics are a starting and ending point in strategic decision-making.