It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers in HR

When it comes to HR, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers.

We’re constantly surrounded by metrics. In an era where dashboards are dominating almost every board meeting, and HRIS is the only source of truth, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to escape the ivory tower that is HR.

So, how do we put the human back into Human Resources?

If the value of HR is in the metrics, how do we take those metrics and ensure that they don’t dictate what we do, but reflect what we do. Human resources isn’t just about policy management, it’s about people management first and foremost. Once we move past the numbers, we can see that what we are dealing with is much bigger. Just try not to get lost in the numbers.

The real goal of HR

The real goal of HR is in the process, not the progress. Certainly, data is valuable to collect because it shows progress, but ultimately the goal is process. Valuable metrics such as lead time to hire of new employees, retention rates, and sick days are all significant pieces of data that can help you in the pursuit of more effective human resources management, but in order to move forward as a company, you’ll need to address the cause.

It’s easy to forget about the real goal of HR: finding and keeping the right people, making the business more effective and efficient, and ensuring adherence to process. These should all be difficult things to quantify, so when we do, we often think that we have the answer. The numbers only tell us half the story though. In a way, the only focusing on the numbers is akin to possessing a map of your company culture, but having no idea of where you want to go on the map. It’s better to start with what you believe to be true, and finding the numbers to back that up.

Here are some of the most common examples of HR getting caught up in the numbers:

Engagement surveys are for opinions, not data

I’ve recently heard from a number of colleagues that the jury is out on engagement surveys, with some having decided that they are no longer working. In fact, some of my friends in HR have recently declared them obsolete, or at least in dire need of reassessing. This is due to the fact that most of the questions are skewed to obtaining metrics, instead of finding answers. Use engagement surveys to find answers to your most pressing questions, instead of just finding data and metrics to present to the board.

Digital performance management tools need to be insights driven

Though it is easy to performance manage when numbers are the focus, performance management tools need to be insights driven instead of KPI driven. In using metric analysis, be sure to remember the context of the data and similarly, as digital performance management tools are not designed to be KPI centric, but instead provide you with insights into where you can improve.

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers in HR. Try not to get caught up!

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