How You're Doing HR is Wrong - bettHR

When you work in HR, you get bombarded with ways you can increase employee engagement; decrease turnover; find better talent; and so on. Lots of solutions, technology options, best practices, and wonky “advice” is thrown around.

Because we all want to deliver better HR. Elevate the department from the dreaded paper pushers and the activities that are (luckily?) being replaced by AI in quick fashion.

And when we finally agree to buy-in to one or many, of the solutions out there that we absolutely had to have in order to solve problem X, we find that nothing really changes.

Our results are exactly better – or not significantly at least.
When we finally agree to buy-in to one or many, of the #HR solutions out there that we absolutely had to have in order to solve problem X, we find that nothing really changes. Our results are exactly better – or not significantly at… Click To Tweet
Our senior leadership’s view on the culture, versus what the employees actually live and breathe each day is a gap that seems almost disillusioned and insurmountable.

We’re burned out and tired… from solving all of the complex people “problems,” monitoring the policy adherence, listening to complaints (small, big, relevant and ridiculous), being ignored, and so on. To the point that you are questioning if you want to be in HR anymore… or if your company/manager/employees are the real problem.

All of the above – the bombardment, the solutions we try, the exasperation we feel, the questioning – is because HR is fundamentally broken.

It’s not your fault. HR has evolved so quickly over the years, that we’ve been constantly duct-taping things together in the hopes that something will finally work and click. And some things have absolutely done so… but how can we stop being willy-nilly about the work we do, and actually be strategic partners?

Deliver real HR. Results and solutions that create meaningful connections and relationships between our company, leadership and our employees?

We need to fix our foundation.
#HR is fundamentally broken. To deliver results and solutions that create meaningful connections and relationships between our company, leadership and our employees, we need to fix our foundation. #HRMetrics Click To Tweet
Just like a house built quickly with various materials thrown together to get immediate shelter, our structure, the very strength of HR, has been crumbling – and unless we build a stronger foundation, our house will fall down and no longer serve its purpose.

What’s the foundation? Knowing exactly what is working and what is not working before we start trying to solve the issue.

HR’s missing foundation is HR metrics – being able to objectively see and measure our effectiveness and activities.
HR’s missing foundation is #HR metrics – being able to objectively see and measure our effectiveness and activities. #HRMetrics Click To Tweet

Why HR Metrics is the True Foundation

We are hardwired at this point to start solving solutions first.

For example… “Eek, we need to improve employee engagement STAT!” So we look at our current practices, spend money on engagement surveys, teach our leaders what to do with the information, and sit back and hope it all works before we move on to the next fire.

But with our truly amazing firefighting skills, we forget the first step. Do we really know that employee engagement (in this example), is the actual problem?

In order to be able to effectively solve the plethora of issues and obstacles our employees face, we need to first understand what the problems are, why they are there, if they actually need to be fixed, and then, how to best solve them.

We cannot fix what is broken, if we don’t first know what is broken and if it needs fixing.  

In order to elevate our HR programs and their effectiveness – not to mention how effective and strategic we are in our daily HR lives – we must start with the data.

Before the panic sets in with a quick retort of, “I’m not a numbers person,” or “We don’t have money to invest in big data,” or “You want me to do more work,” starting with HR metrics as our foundation does not mean you have to dramatically change or invest in your foundation.

Ensuring you have the right data and metrics in place so you can build your foundation, doesn’t mean that you have to be a math genius. Nor do you need to spend a million dollars investing in the latest data analytics technology. And of course, it means working smarter, not doing more.
We cannot fix what is broken in #HR, if we don’t first know what is broken and if it needs fixing. In order to elevate our HR programs, we must start with the data. #HRmetrics Click To Tweet
How do I know that this is fact?

Because we’ve worked with over 2,500 HR professionals to build their foundation first. And none of them were math geniuses (sorry!). And they didn’t invest a half a million dollars to get started (not sorry). And they didn’t have the time nor resources to work more.

Instead, they focused on the basics. The building blocks of creating their new HR foundation.

With HR metrics at the core of what they do and how they do HR going forward.

Here’s a real-life example of how HR metrics can save you a lot of time on money… while getting real results.

Several years ago, I was supporting a global marketing organization as an HR business partner. The engagement survey results were low. Higher in marketing than any other department and the company as a whole, but in general, the results were not even close to the numbers that the leader thought they should be at.

So I followed all of the advice out there – threw every single thing at the employee population to help improve their engagement scores. Knocked out all of the low-hanging fruit that the engagement “experts” said would absolutely move the needle.

The results? We spent a lot of money on increasing employee engagement that year… and our engagement scores decreased from 64% to an abysmal 36% after focusing on engagement.

Hopefully your scores aren’t trending in that same way because it was awful.

But more likely, you’re not moving the needle at all. Or your scores are stalled out and you can’t quite figure out why.
#EmployeeEngagement: If you’re not moving the needle at all, or your scores are stalled out and you can’t quite figure out why - need to start with #HRmetrics Click To Tweet

It’s because you’re focused on engagement, instead of understanding the numbers first. Really digging behind the data, for example – your employee engagement survey data, to see what your employees are telling you.

And how you, in HR, can actually help your leaders influence positive change.

With the data, you go from having to throw solutions at the perceived problem (“engagement”), to being laser-focused on what the actual issues are and how to best solve for them.

Where Should You Start?

HR metrics is the place the start to improve HR. But since you’ve likely been putting that hard truth on the back-burner, you’re not really sure where or how to actually get started with HR metrics.

Especially if you’re like most of the HR people I know, and don’t love math (or spreadsheets or numbers or data or charts or…). And I promise, you don’t need to love any of those things to get started.

Start with one metric.

Usually the advice is to start measuring all of the usual suspects – create the metrics then share them with senior leaders in a dashboard.

But that’s not how it works. And it will be just as ineffective as what you’re currently doing (even if that is a big fat zero under the metrics umbrella).

Instead, start with one metric.

Start with the easiest metric it is for you to find data for and create a metric out of.

The metric may be your overall employee engagement stats. Or your turnover rate. Or your time to fill. Or your key talent to employee ratio.

Really, your first metric can be anything at all. You can’t choose the wrong metric to start with, if you are starting from zero.

Your first metric is going to help you practice building your foundation, so when you’re ready to pour the concrete, you are confident in your skills (like the house analogy?).

Here are a bunch of ideas of which metrics to start with, if you’re not sure – if you are an HR business partner or generalist, if you work in Talent Acquisition, or if just aren’t sure.

Pick one metric, and start.

Once you’ve picked your metric, we can start building your foundation.