HR metrics; Good news or Bad news

We have written about metrics before and measuring your business is a good thing. It provides you with feedback on what is happening versus what your plan was. The question is always: “How is it running….. and how do you know?”.

Paper Fortune Teller

A problem is that there are not many companies who really have their management or Human Resources metrics solidly under control. The fact that you can measure something is not necessarily an indicator that it has any value to keep track of it. I can measure how many emails I receive every day but it would be a pretty useless metric as I will not act on the outcome of it and have no use for this statistic.

Measuring something only provides data. The information needs to come from the analysis of the data. With some data that is not as easy as one may wish, I refer to this as the Good News, Bad News Show:



[column-group] [column] Metric

Low Burden Rate

High Burder Rate


Low sickness rate


High sickness rate


High Turnover

Low Turnover


[column] Good News

You are diligent with employee costs

Great employee package


Your employees are healthy


Your employees know when to stay at home

You are getting new talent in

You are great at retaining talent


[column] Bad News

Your package may not be competitive

You are wasting money on the employee side

Your employees don’t dare to be sick and are unproductive at work

Your employees abuse sick-days for vacation time

You cannot retain your employees and lose experience

No one wants to hire your employees


With most of these kind of metrics the value will be in tracking the numbers over time and understanding the changes. Comparisons with other companies are tricky without knowing all the details about how these numbers are defined in the various companies.

Time to hire is another metric I want to mention here. Good news when it is low, because apparently you are able to recruit people fast. Bad news if the quality of the new employees is not what your company needs and the short time to hire is a sign of sloppy selection. Think about what you are trying to measure and manage with this metric.

Metrics need to be meaningful and have a relation to something you want to manage (goal clarity). Below three metrics that have value in my view and are worthwhile to track.

  • Understanding employee productivity is probably a good time investment. If productivity declines there must be reasons and you need to understand those.
  • Success rate of recruitment, measured a few years after hiring. A check to see where the recruits ended up compared to the expectations at the time you hired them. Read this article about Google’s recruitment for a perspective.
  • Effectiveness of your communication. A check after major communication initiatives on how successful the message has lead to behavior change.

What are your favorite metrics? What are you measuring and Why? As always you can share your thoughts by emailing us at

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