HR Strategy

The people analytics every HR pro should (and shouldn’t) measure

Some people metrics are universal to every organization, Meisha-ann Martin, senior director of people analytics and research at Workhuman, tells HR Brew.
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Alyssa Nassner

4 min read

Let’s talk about people data.

Some 44% of companies surveyed by the HR Research Institute for its 2021 State of HR Analytics report said they were “good or very good at gathering people analytics.” But just 22% of respondents to the firm’s 2023 State of People Analytics report said they were “very or extremely effective” at creating processes from this data.

When it comes to using people analytics, HR pros need to think about how it correlates with business strategies and visions, said Meisha-ann Martin, senior director of people analytics and research at employee recognition software company Workhuman.

“Ideally, you have the business strategy that feeds into the people strategy…That’s going to differ for each organization,” Martin told HR Brew at the Workhuman Live conference on April 17.

She shared what data every HR pro should (and should not) consider measuring and why.

Metric dos. While each company is different, Martin said there are some standard people metrics that all can benefit from tracking.

Recruiters and talent pros, she said, will likely find two data points useful: “Time to fill,” or the time between listing a job listing and a candidate accepting an offer, and “quality of hire,” or an employee’s performance in their first year of employment.

And engagement metrics are key to retaining talent, Martin said, recommending tracking, in employee engagement surveys, how many employees recommend the organization to friends and family, and how many report having a best friend at work.

“Those items are more getting to the idea of being connected to the people around you, because we realize that matters in terms of how people feel about their organization [and if] they feel like they’re connected to their colleagues, to the culture, and to the work,” she said.

Metric don’ts. One metric that’s gotten a lot of buzz recently is in-office attendance. Some companies with RTO policies are even factoring it into employees’ performance reviews. Martin said she doesn’t recommend any HR pro track this metric.

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“You are eroding trust, and making people feel like they’re watched, and it does not end well,” she said. “We have done research on the different ways of working between remote, fully on-site, and hybrid, and we’ve found advantages and disadvantages…there is an importance in doing research…so that you can take advantage of the positives and mitigate the negatives.”

Emerging metric. Martin said she’s analyzing data to quantify, based on skills, job requirements.

“Traditionally, we’ve relied on things, like degrees, when considering if somebody is qualified for a job. Well, in our society, not everybody has equal access to get a degree,” Martin said. “Instead, what skills does a particular job require and how do we measure that in people?”

Martin said she’s using Workhuman’s recognition software to gather data on skills and then match those skills with employees’ titles and industries.

She and her team shared their findings in a recent report titled Recognition Playback. Biotech roles, for instance, were often held by workers with inspection and preparation skills, while consumer goods and services positions were often performed by those with innovation and preparation skills.

“If you have a recognition program, like ours, then you can take that crowdsourced, positive feedback, and draw some conclusions about the skills people have,” she said, adding that she sees potential for HR pros to use such data to get creative when recruiting and retaining talent.

“Maybe this part of [a] job requires this skill, and this part of the job requires that skill, do they need to be done by the same people?” Martin said. “How about people who don’t want to participate in the workforce full time, like mothers returning from maternity leave? Can they take on a piece of the job as a way to get back into the workforce?”

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.