14 key HR metrics (and why they matter now more than ever)

The role of HR is changing. And with it, the role of HR metrics.
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The role of HR is changing. And with it, the role of HR metrics.

Company leaders have known for a long time that success hinges on the happiness and productivity of their workforces. As the way we work — and hire — continues to evolve, HR is finally being recognized as the strategic partner that some of us have always understood it to be.

More companies are bringing their HR departments to the big table. But with this partnership comes an increased responsibility.

Executives are looking to HR to help increase operational efficiency, improve worker retention, and turn corporate values and culture into assets that appeal to potential employees. This puts pressure on HR departments to gather metrics that help the company make long-term decisions.

Focusing on these fourteen key HR metrics will help you rise to the occasion.

Why it all starts with comms metrics

Almost everything HR does (maybe absolutely everything) relies on strong communication. Tracking your HR comms metrics closely will give you the data you need to help your entire organization communicate better.

And better communication means better operation across the board.

Communication plays a role in how well employees understand their jobs, how efficiently teams work together, how engaged people are with their work, and on and on. Once you nail your communication, you’ll see a rise in all the other key HR metrics on this list.

Take note of these important communication metrics:

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1. Communications reach

Your goal here is to find out how employees prefer to communicate. (Hint: it’s probably not email.)

You need to understand your internal comms reach to know which modes of communication our people respond to most. That way you can meet them where they are, rather than trying to push them into using comms channels that aren’t a good fit.

To do this, you’ll need to track metrics like email read receipts, intranet logon data, internal text message volume, and total Slack messages. All of these are good metrics to show you where people are exchanging information and which parts of your communications infrastructure reach people most efficiently.

Yes, this is a lot of data to track. And some of these metrics can be tricky to gather. You may need to coordinate with your IT team to collect the information, especially when it comes to email read receipts and intranet logons.

But understanding how often employees access company comms is a big part of measuring employee engagement. And info such as company intranet logon data shows you how many team members are logging on to check for company messages and which communication tools people use most.

If you have a few key internal communications metrics, you can compare them side by side and see the best way to reach your entire organization, much the same way marketers use A/B testing to verify how to communicate with customers.

Pro tip: Video offers a simple workaround for complex data collection. With a tool like Biteable Teams, you can create engaging HR videos and use video analytics to see where your messages get the most reach. No need to set up email read receipt tracking or other IT headaches.

Simply create a few short videos and share them on multiple internal comms channels. Use the video watch rate to see where you get the most reach within your organization. With this data on hand, you’ll know exactly where to share your most important messages.

2. Comms engagement

Comms engagement is the next step in the communications process. It’s important that people receive your messages. But it’s also important that people understand, engage with, and take action on those messages.

The best way to measure engagement is to track responses, comments, and follow-up action. This tells you if your messages are landing and which types of messaging employees respond to best.

If you find that people rarely respond to or comment on your messages, or if you struggle to get employees to take action, it’s a sign that you may need to adjust how you communicate.

Here’s another place where video metrics come in handy. Add a clickable, trackable call-to-action at the end of your videos (it’s easy with Biteable), and you’ll have real-time data on how many people click the link and take action.

If you track comms reach and engagement, you’ll have a near-perfect picture of which channels to use for internal communication and how to communicate with your teams to achieve the most impact.

Hiring, recruiting, and retention metrics

Hiring, recruiting, and retention metrics are essential. They show you the efficiency of your talent acquisition and retention programs. These metrics also help your leadership team expand and shape the workforce based on tangible, strategic data.

3. Time to hire

Average number of days between job posting and offer acceptance.

Time to hire is a valuable HR metric because it measures the efficiency of your hiring process in numerical terms. This in turn can help you identify bottlenecks and keep your recruiting machine running smoothly so you don’t risk losing top candidates because of long wait times.

Understanding how long it takes to fill a position also helps you see the hidden costs of hiring a new employee because you can quantify the added strain on the teams and the cost of lost productivity based on how long a position remains empty.

4. Time to productivity

Average number of days between an employee’s first day and working at full capacity.

Both your HR team and company leadership need data that shows if your onboarding and training programs are working. The faster new hires get up to speed, the better. Good adjustments to your onboarding process should reduce your time to productivity.

This specific HR metric is especially important as companies adopt remote and hybrid work options. Since remote work is still relatively new to many companies, onboarding and training programs are often still finding their footing. A metric like time to productivity is a key indicator of their effectiveness.

5. Cost-per-hire

Internal hiring costs plus external hiring costs divided by the number of employees hired in a specified time period.

Cost per hire is a big deal for both HR and company leadership.

This metric is important to your HR team because cost per hire is a direct indication of how efficiently your team uses your budget. It also gives you a quick way to assess your hiring process without going through all the more granular recruiting and hiring metrics.

Company leadership values this metric because it helps them make decisions about how to expand the company.

Adding new employees to the payroll represents an initial investment. Leadership needs to know how much it costs to hire a new employee so they can assess how long it will take for that new position to recover the hiring costs and start generating new revenue.

Without cost per-hire-data, expanding the company workforce feels like flying blind.

6. Total turnover rate

Total number of employees who leave the organization in a specified time period divided by the average number of employees. Multiply the answer by 100 to get a turnover rate percentage.

Tracking this HR metric helps you determine if there’s an issue with employee engagement, compensation, and all the other aspects of employee retention.

However, since the total turnover rate includes employees who were involuntarily terminated, this data also gives you a real insight into whether or not you’re hiring the right people. Reevaluate your hiring process if your total turnover rate seems high.

7. Voluntary turnover rate

Calculated the same as total turnover rate, but include only the employees who voluntarily left the organization.

Understanding your voluntary turnover rate helps you focus on your employee retention programs. When employees voluntarily leave the company, it’s usually for higher pay, a more fitting work schedule, better benefits, or something else related to the employee experience.

This metric helps your HR department and other leaders determine if the company is competitive in the job market. High voluntary turnover rates usually mean that you need to offer more to your employees.

8. Retention rate

Divide the number of employees who remain in the organization over a specified time period by the average number of employees in the organization.

Retention rate is basically the opposite of the total turnover rate, but it’s easier to measure. It’s also a high-level indicator metric that’s good for doing quick assessments to make sure things are on track.

Retention rate tells you whether or not you have a problem, but it’s not quite narrow enough to diagnose exactly what problem you have.

If your retention rates are low, that should prompt you to dig into your total and voluntary turnover rates to find out where the issue lies and figure out how to resolve it.

Learning and development metrics

Learning and development metrics serve a dual purpose. They help HR keep an eye on the performance of internal trainings. And these metrics also help HR and leadership optimize training budgets and program selection.

9. Training completion rate

The number of employees who completed a given training divided by the number of employees who attended the training. Multiply the answer by 100 to get the training completion percentage.

The great thing about tracking the training completion rate is that it gives you a single data point for evaluating many aspects of employee training.

Training completion rate is a high-level indicator. It shows that there’s an issue with a training program, but you’ll have to talk to the employees and check some more granular metrics to diagnose the exact problem.

Though it’s worth noting that training completion rate is a strong enough metric that many companies simply scrap or overhaul a training program that has low completion rates.

Low completion rates suggest that the training may not be delivered well or employees may not feel it gives enough value for their time. Also, if employees are not completing a training, that training has zero effective value, regardless of their reasons for quitting.

If you find that your organization is struggling to get team members to complete mandatory trainings, consider adding training videos to your strategy.

Delivering training in short, digestible videos makes it more engaging, more memorable, and easier to consume. (Bonus: video training completion rates are also easily trackable with video analytics.)

10. Training time to completion

Average time it takes employees to complete a given training.

Training time to completion is a key budgeting metric, because most contracted training must be paid for up front. Training also comes with costs in terms of employee wages and revenue that would have been generated if the employee was working during that time.

Understanding how long it takes employees to complete training helps you establish a training budget and quotas for how many employees the company can put through training each year.

Resource metrics

Resource metrics help company leadership get a more complete picture of company financials and the efficiency of the company workforce. These metrics also help prove how much the HR team contributes to company success.

11. Overtime hours

Total overtime hours from payroll reports for a specified time period.

Overtime hours is a hugely valuable metric to management and company leadership. It’s a massive indicator of workforce efficiency.

Excessive overtime may suggest that the company workforce is too small, or that equipment needs to be upgraded, or that the collaboration tools are causing friction and need to be swapped out. Or, it could just be that the company is in a big push to finish a project.

In any case, overtime hours help keep projects within budget, identify where the company needs the most investment, indicate whether or not to expand the workforce, and a whole lot more.

From an HR perspective, overtime hours are a quality of life and compliance metric as well. If you’re not tracking overtime hours, you need to start.

12. Revenue per employee

Total revenue from a specified time period divided by the number of employees.

Revenue per employee is a workforce efficiency metric that’s best tracked in tandem with overtime hours. In most cases, low revenue per employee indicates employees don’t have everything they need to work efficiently, regardless of whether overtime hours are high or low.

High revenue per employee paired with high overtime hours usually indicates the need for a larger workforce. On the other hand, high revenue per employee with low overtime hours is an indicator you’ve hit a productivity sweet spot.

The main challenge with revenue per employee is knowing what’s high and low for your industry. That requires some research to discover. Alternatively, you can look at the historical numbers for this metric, if you have them, and use the average to get a sense of the company’s baseline revenue per employee.

13. HR to employee ratio

Number of HR professionals per non-HR employee in your organization.

You may not be requested to present this metric at the next company strategy meeting. But it’s a useful metric for evaluating how efficient your HR team is and how much strain each HR pro is under.

Having a high number of employees per HR team member might mean you need a larger HR team. You could also address the issue with better HR software or more efficient and effective communication strategies.

Like some of the other HR metrics, you’ll have to determine what constitutes a good HR-to-employee ratio for your organization. From there, you can develop strategies to solve the problem.

14. Cost of HR per HR professional

Total HR costs divided by the number of HR employees.

This is the HR efficiency metric that you may be prompted to produce at a company strategy meeting. The cost of HR per HR professional is directly tied to the company’s bottom line. This metric enables leadership to see the efficiency of the HR department and evaluate its budgetary needs.

It might feel a bit scary to put this one up on the projector. We understand. But it’s not about accusing the HR team of anything. It’s about making sure you have the tools, resources, and staffing you need to do your job.

Improve all your HR metrics with Biteable

Tracking these metrics will enable you and your HR team to operate more efficiently and be even more valuable to your organization.

But everything in HR revolves around strong communication. No HR professional can be effective without it.

Biteable gives you a powerful tool for getting attention and delivering HR comms that stick. With an easy-to-use platform and exclusive branded templates, your entire team can collaborate to make eye-catching videos you can share and track with a single click.

You’ll be ready to press play in less time that it takes to say “did everyone read my last email?”


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