HR and Metrics

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 15 August 2018   |   By Ricardo Kanono

My heart goes out to women, particularly on the back of Women’s Day commemoration that took place in South Africa on August 9.  A woman in any form shall be celebrated and honoured, be it, a sister or a wife or a mother or any other form. Let me quote this very interesting statement ushered by the Margaret Thatcher when she said “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman”. I urge all Batswana men to stop women abuse, killings and any sort of discrimination against them.

During our church’s monthly meeting this past Wednesday, I was visibly engrossed on the agenda that was at hand and hardly contributed to the ensuing deliberations. This prompted my brother and sister in Christ who was in attendance to ask me why I was uncharacteristically quiet and not sharing my thoughts. While quiet and listening to my colleagues, I was appreciating and questioning the quality, form and comprehensiveness of the information and reports being presented. It dawned on me that in as much as l acknowledge the importance of detail, there was need to present information in a summarised and analysable form to derive the immediate value in it. As a result, I was consistently and critically asking myself over and over again when we shall embrace the use of dashboards and metrics to present our information. Since a distant past, most organisations have been reliant on lengthy presentations and reports laden with hardly analysable information to inform decisions they make. In view of the limitation of available productive time to make quick and agile decision, most organisations are implementing dashboards and metrics to answer their operational and strategic questions.


As a church we have been insatiably collecting data from the congregants and using that information as a basis for our decisions. However, these decisions take considerable time to make due to the nature and information that we gather and use. This in turn results in a series of meetings that are frequently deferred, mostly because of insufficient and unanalysable data which is not palatable to support decision making. I have noted with grave concern that this challenge is not exclusively confined to my church alone. It is a scourge that is prevalent in most organisations, both not-for profit and profit making organisations. Without sufficient, reliable and factual information all organisations’ survival is inevitably at threat of demise. Information is the lifeblood of any organisation!

This prompted me to share and shed light on the criticality of information and the associated dashboards and metrics in relation to the HR function. It is an undeniable fact that some of the HR departments of the reputable and humongous organisations in Botswana currently present their reports in the same fashion to my church reports, comprehensive but of limited value in decision making process.  If you are still this HR practitioner who is propagating and preaching sermons of presenting information in long and winding report, honestly you are still living in the distant past and need professional counselling and re-orientation in present value adding reports. Ideally, the reports should be succinct, have sufficient detail that support swift decision making.


In this era, managing human resources and making decisions need a relatively good HR analytics derived from metrics and dashboards. Reporting on the workforce is one of the strategic and essential components employed by organisations for competitive advantage. HR metrics and analytics is a hot topic in competitive organisations today.  Metrics and dashboards should be used in facets of HR function that encompass but not limited to the following: recruitment, terminations, performance management and productivity. The HR metrics and dashboards ensures that the performance of human resources within an organisation is optimised and trended to meet strategic thrust of any organisation through elevated performance emphasizing their core competencies. Optimisation can only be achieved through key strategic decisions rooted on the outcomes from key and reliable information from metrics and dashboards used by an organisation. This entails that for an organisation to register phenomenal performance they need to financially invest in the tools that refine and retain information that strongly support decisions made at both operational and strategic levels. Metrics and dashboard trends bring future to the present and without them there may be not future to talk about. The driver of HR metrics and analytics is the HRIS in response to the Y2K adoption of system change from pencil and pen approach. The HR Metrics can be traced to the pioneer work of Dr. Jac Fitz-enz in the 1980s and common book published as “How to Measure Human Resources Management “shed light on this subject.  Human Capital Metrics is ever evolving and changing every decade; an approach used in 2000 might not be useful in 2014. Exactly where should the HR be in this era? Is this not the time for HR to be speaking the C-suit language? The C-suit language is the CFO, COO and CEO tone of using metrics to analyse and plot the future based on the numbers.

How could HR advise the C-suit in their language when they don’t speak in the same tone? Can C-suit take us serious? These are questions that need to be answered by HR Practitioners if they need to partner with business leaders.


Metrics are useful when they are used for analysis, decision making and insight for continual improvement opportunities. HR metrics should lead to action and measurement. Anything less than that isn’t worth the time. The most important metrics for HR is to connect the organisational strategy, key goals and objectives of the department. If correctly used, the overall evaluation for metrics depicts a picture of success or failure of the goals. Exactly what are metrics? Metrics are data providing descriptive detailed information for analysis. Erik van Vulpen defines HR metrics as “indicators that enable HR to track and measure performance on different aspects and ultimately predict the future”. Other writers define it as a tool that provides the method to measure the performance of the various functions.

From Strategic HR, the break–even point, cost–benefits ratio and return on investment are some of the key metrics which should form part of the HR dashboard. The above mentioned provide a good insight of the strategic direction of the department. The break –even provides the analysis of the cost invested in an HR programme over the returns. On the other side, the ROI can be calculated differently based on the investments, benefits and cost/s in an organisation. In the mines, the common metrics in the HR is the Risk Management which covers the Workers Compensation, Accidents and Liability. Having worked in Orapa before, safety reports are one of the core and sensitive metrics that without fail must be reported monthly.


The overall use of the HR Metrics and workforce analytics is to help the organisation to balance cost, benefits and decision making. The closing question is why are we keeping scores in a soccer game? If this question can be answered then we are close to answer why we collect numbers and information in our organisations. Finally, why do we keep scores in any game whether chess or netball? The answer you have is the answer you will use to close the article.

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