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When asked about measuring human resources, many HR professionals will say that the work is intangible, has too many variables, and cannot be accurately measured…so it’s not worth the time.  That is a myth, and it is worth your time!

The truth is:

  • HR can measure what it does in quantitative and qualitative terms.  In fact, it must do so to meet the needs of today’s constantly changing, competitive landscape and to demonstrate the value of the HR function to top decision-makers.
  • HR is responsible for managing employee salaries and benefits, which is one of the largest, if not the largest, expense in most organizations.  That fact alone may motivate many owners, CEOs, and Boards to ask, “Have we conducted an HR audit lately?”

So, some sort of measurement, or yardstick, is needed to determine how far you’ve come and how far you have yet to go to move the organization towards its human capital goals. More often than not, HR simply doesn’t get measured for two underlying reasons:

  1. “It takes too much time”
    Most HR departments and people responsible for HR activities spend a large amount of time on reactive work.  There’s typically no shortage of fires and never enough firefighters.  With hiring, employee relations issues, and constantly evolving labor laws, who has time to measure what we’re doing?  That’s what most of us ask ourselves.  What we REALLY should be asking ourselves, though, is, “Is there time NOT to measure what we’re doing?”  If HR is going to move out of the reactive mode, it must carve out the time to be proactive.  By measuring what is being done and evaluating that against laws and best practice, processes can be streamlined, unnecessary work dropped, and high-impact work prioritized.
  2. “It’s a waste of time”
    In addition to a lack of time, another reason HR doesn’t get measured is the lack of knowledge of how to measure and assess the HR function and do it in a meaningful way.  It’s human nature to gravitate towards the work that we know how to do and to procrastinate on the tasks that we’re unfamiliar with.  But the concepts and skills needed to measure and track key indicators can be learned easily and implemented quickly.

Investing time to learn about and establish HR metrics and to conduct an audit will result in substantial returns.  The payoff comes in the form of efficiency and increased productivity, better decisions, reduction of risk, and the ability to clearly demonstrate the value of the function to the organization’s bottom line.  So, determine your yardstick, and start measuring!

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