Home » HR Metrics: Why are They Important, and Which Ones Should You Be Tracking?

HR Metrics: Why are They Important, and Which Ones Should You Be Tracking?

Many HR professionals want to obtain and retain a seat at the executive table. If you are lucky enough to achieve one, how can you get your ideas across to the CEO, CFO or other executives? Learn to think like an executive: Are you using metrics? Are you using metrics that matter?

Why Should You Use Metrics?

There are several reasons to create, track and analyze metrics. One crucial reason is that doing so enables HR to speak to senior management in the language of business. CEOs, CFOs and other executives are business-focused, and you need to present data to back up your issues, needs or ideas.

So, speak their language. Numbers tell a powerful story, and metrics can help prove that your HR department is a valuable strategic partner in running the business.

Additional benefits to using metrics include:

  • What gets measured gets done.
  • The simple act of measuring, improves performance.
  • They help identify strengths and weaknesses of the organization.
  • They also identify and help forecast opportunities and threats to the organization.
  • They can identify strengths and weaknesses of the HR department.
  • They help you prioritize.

What Should You Measure?

To start, examine your business objectives. Whatever you measure should give you data that will help support the business objectives and the organizational strategy.

Ask your management peers what they need to meet their objectives, and what gets in the way of meeting those objectives. Is turnover an issue? Do they feel like they are constantly losing tenured employees and training new ones? Are they concerned that their job openings go unfilled for too long? Their answers will give you a good starting point for your metrics program.


1. List the top 3-5 objectives of your organization
2. List the top 3-5 objectives of your HR department
3. List all of the things you currently measure
4. Beside each measurement state briefly why you measure it
5. Match up each measurement with each objective. If you have measures that are not associated with any of the objectives you’ve listed, then stop measuring them. They are a waste of time and resources.
6. Pick the top 3-5 measurements that most strongly identify whether or not you are achieving the specific objective. Those are your metrics.

Be sure to specify the scope of your metrics. For example, most business leaders will say that retention of key talent is a high priority in the company, so most HR departments track turnover and retention. You can take this from the general to the specific by measuring turnover data in different ways:

  • Organization-wide turnover
  • By department
  • Length of service
  • By job category
  • By manager
  • By location
  • By gender or diversity categories
  • By key jobs
  • Top performers
  • Positive turnover

Just remember, tracking and reporting on too many metrics can be just as ineffective as no metrics at all. Be sure to focus on a few meaningful measures which will help support and advance the objectives of the organization when analyzed and acted upon.

Your HR objectives may include surveying and analyzing data that shows the engagement level of employees, the quality of management and the effectiveness of training and development.

Other common HR metrics are time to fill, productivity and quality of hire. Time to hire measures how well your recruiting department is performing, but quality of hire (effectiveness) should be the desired result.

Being able to provide tangible evidence of your department’s performance and successes will help you earn and keep your seat at the executive table.