People Strategy

9 Ways to Get Better at Tracking and Reporting HR Metrics

August 22, 2023
November 7, 2023
Halah Flynn
Lattice Team

For every HR program, there’s always a way to measure success, and doing so can help build investment and trust with senior leaders in other departments. 

“Sometimes HR can be seen as just a cost center, and the data that we can offer can define why we add the value we do,” said Anthony Kogan, Global Head of People at Acquco and RfH community member. “Data is a representation of our efforts and value to the organization.”

But tracking and reporting HR metrics can be convoluted and overwhelming, especially when joining an organization that doesn’t already have a clear set of metrics they rely on to evaluate and sustain people strategy

We're all just doing the best we can with the gifts, talents, and skills we have.

At Lattice, we believe human resources professionals are at their best when they share information with each other, helping one another to elevate their careers, people practices, and everyday work. Below are nine tips from RfH community members on how to make your data work harder for you. 

1. Start with HR metrics you already have. 

Build a foundation by taking stock of the information you can easily access. “Some cultures are heavily numbers driven and value time spent to collect, mine, and analyze quantitative data,” said Christina Moran, Ph.D., VP of organizational development & learning at Marshberry and RfH community member. “Other cultures prefer anecdotes, stories, or testimonials.” 

Moran said some of her key HR metrics include employee retention rate, time-to-fill, headcount growth year-over-year, average tenure, promotions year-to-date, number of courses in the company’s learning management system, and course completions per learner. 

Once you know what kind of information your team is already collecting, you can think more critically about filling in the gaps. “Consider the audience, what's in line with cultural norms, and key metrics that tell a compelling and important story within your firm,” Moran added.

2. Align with your organization’s priorities.

There’s little point to tracking HR metrics that your company will never use. And while every data point can provide insights, it’s most efficient to focus on the numbers that actually measure established key performance indicators (KPIs) and progress toward business goals

“Select metrics that align with organizational priorities and goals so they can serve as measures of success,” said Alex Lahmeyer, founder & DEIB consultant at Boundless Arc and RfH community member. “Metrics related to hiring, compensation, performance, and employee satisfaction will help you get a clearer picture of any gaps in the employee lifecycle.” 

Lahmeyer encouraged teams to look at demographic breakouts for each of the following categories:

  • Talent acquisition: candidate source, pass through rates, offer acceptance rates, and candidate experience
  • Employee performance: ratings and promotions
  • Employee engagement: survey favorability scores
  • Team composition: by level and department
  • Compensation: by level, department, and location

“Think of DEIB as a lens to apply to your job,” they added. “While DEIB work often starts in HR, it's essential for every facet of the organization.”

Lahmeyer recommends setting aside time every week to research DEIB concepts and find practical ways to incorporate them into your people programs. That way, DEIB will become a seamless part of organizational priorities and KPIs, instead of a standalone objective.

3. Focus on metrics that resonate with non-HR teams.  

Think about your data — and the vocabulary you use to share it — in terms of what other teams need to know about your people programs. Try to highlight data that’s easy for other teams to digest, so they come away with a better understanding of your work and how it connects to theirs.

“Keep it simple yet meaningful, out-of-the-box data that doesn't require brain science,” said Kogan, whose go-to metrics include:

  • New hire data: 90-day retention rates and onboarding check-ins
  • Engagement survey data: Pulse scores, eNPS, and Glassdoor reviews 
  • Employee turnover: Regrettable attrition and turnover by tenure 
  • Recruiting: Time-to-fill (per-candidate and per-posting), closing ratios, candidate survey scores, and cost per hire
  • Benefits: Coverage costs per employee, and average time off per employee

By sharing the HR data that matters most to other teams, you can help leaders with data-driven decision-making and position yourself as a partner in meeting business goals with people programs.

4. Present your findings clearly.

When it’s time to present your data with senior leadership, consider your options for sharing information: an email digest, a live presentation, a one-pager, or a slide deck are all useful for HR reporting. Then select methods and language that will be most clear to your audience. 

“I tend to think about, ‘How would I label this item? And then how might someone rephrase this label to better connect to information they already know?’” Moran said. “It's okay to strike a balance between educating people on new terms but also not overwhelming them to the point they feel like they need to study what these terms mean to keep up. 

“Include brief definitions in plain language and create opportunities for leaders to ask clarifying questions and provide feedback,” Lahmeyer added. 

Need help with definitions? Check out our glossary on people strategy terms.

5. Help others connect the dots.  

Don’t shy away from using hard numbers to tell a meaningful story — just make sure you help your audience understand why it matters. “When you include DEIB metrics in your people analytics, leaders can better understand the impact of specific programs and why they’re critical for organizational success,” Lahmeyer said.

Consider what support your audience needs to understand the impact of the data you’re sharing: How familiar are they with these metrics? Do they already know how this data connects with their work? What can you do to secure buy-in from them?

“For example, a leadership team should understand that high, regrettable attrition of women of color means that recruitment costs will increase and trust in leadership will decrease,” Lahmeyer said. 

The more meaningful connections you can make, the more investment and engagement you’ll gain from other stakeholders.

6. Synthesize the data into simple takeaways. 

You’re probably tracking dozens of metrics, but sharing them all at once can be overwhelming and confusing for others about where to focus. 

“Put yourself in the shoes of a person receiving the data,” Kogan said. “Use rankings for data where possible, and always use simple language.”

Most people can only process and retain a few pieces of information in a single meeting or presentation, so identify your biggest takeaways and make them simple for your audience — even if your audience is just one person in a Slack message.

7. Provided a balanced perspective. 

It’s easy to focus only on the metrics that tell positive stories, but Moran says a balanced reporting approach can build trust, demonstrate your ROI, and show your commitment to success. 

“Showing actual results through quantitative metrics and testimonials lets your stakeholders know that you care about producing quality work and evaluating the effectiveness of initiatives,” Moran said. “If you're always sharing ‘10/10s’ and ‘5/5s’ for your programs, people are eventually going to tune out and/or feel pressured to provide high ratings even if they're not an accurate reflection of the program experience.” 

To retain credibility with company leaders and employees, be honest about all the high and low points.

8. Keep building new skills. 

If you’re feeling unprepared to start tracking and reporting HR metrics, you can always try learning data fundamentals to build confidence and competence. You can either ask colleagues for their support or explore what courses or trainings are available through your company’s benefits or L&D programs.

Whatever route you take, remember that no HR professional is perfect, and everyone is learning new professional skills as they move through their careers. 

“I dive in with a sense of being fearless and expecting to learn from my mistakes. Both of these traits have accelerated my learning,” Moran said. “We're all just doing the best we can with the gifts, talents, and skills we have.”

9. Leverage HR software that makes analytics easier.

A positive attitude can take you far, but the right HR software can take you all the way. “Today's technology makes it possible to easily get data without spending hours of work manipulating it,” Kogan said. 

Try making use of people analytics dashboards that synthesize data and connect your metrics to other elements of your people programs, like employee engagement, performance management, and compensation. 

If you don’t have an HR analytics tool to support your work, check out Lattice Analytics — our dashboards support HR teams by providing insights on DEIB, employee sentiment, people programs adoption, and more.

For more support with measuring your people programs, download our free HR Metrics Cheat Sheet