You manage employees at all levels through all stages. You recruit, hire, train, develop and promote while handling items like compensation, benefits and interpersonal issues.

Your department can collect a lot of data, which you can combine in an infinite number of ways. The trick is to decipher the difference between valuable insights that contribute to the business and HR metrics that help you manage people.

People analytics: HR metrics and big data

Using big data for HR is referred to as people analytics: it means combining data specifically to analyse and manage employees. This includes, among other things, combining the right data to identify how to recruit and retain the right people for your company.

1. Recruiting resources + retained hires = effective recruiting

HR is responsible for attracting qualified applicants to the company and monitoring their success. To manage your recruiting effectively, you must identify the best recruiting sources that produce the most qualified applicants for your company.

Start with how many applicants you attract from each recruiting resource your department uses and how many of those applicants are worth looking at. From there, look at how many hires came from those qualified applicants and how many are with the company longer than six months or a year. The totals will tell you where to focus your recruiting resources.

2. Employee information + performance ratings = identify quality hires

Take the data further to identify what makes for a quality hire in your company. Bring your company’s data on the performance of employees alongside employee information like experience and education to get insight as to what skills past quality hires have brought to the company.

You’ll need to collaborate with department managers to get data on how long it takes a new hire to do the job independently as well as performance ratings for customer service and the ability to meet goals and then establish parameters for the HR information you need to accurately identify these qualities.

3. Salary average + top performer salary = retain top performers

Once you have quality hires identified, you want to make sure your department is doing everything it can to keep them happy at your company. One way to do this is to monitor where those top performers fall on the pay scale.

Find the average salary at each level within the company for each type of role. Compare the salary of individual top performers to that average. You can identify who is falling below the average pay and make adjustments to avoid losing a top performer to another company over money.

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4. Employee resignations and terminations + department head counts = pinpoint high turnover

Identifying high turnover rates is important because it means lost productivity or the possibility of deeper issues in the team like ineffective management, people issues, high workloads or low job satisfaction.

To identify teams in the company with high turnover, look at employees who resign and those who are let go from specific departments versus the number of people required for the department. To pinpoint positions, you will want to look at how often the position is filled over a designated period of time. Once you identify areas with a turnover problem, it’s time to find the cause.

5. Employee surveys + turnover rates = employee engagement

Employee engagement has proven itself a key player in the success of a company and HR is responsible for ensuring employees are engaged and, when they are not, finding and addressing the underlying issues. The ability to collect data on the subject is a great advantage to your department.

This is best done through surveys of present and even exiting employees on their satisfaction with their role, their team, their manager and the company. Combining and analysing data from these surveys helps identify causes for why you are losing talent or customer service has a low rating.

6. The last part of the equation

HR metrics are only as good as the actions they inspire. The key to using data for effective management is to recognise that data isn’t magic. The metrics provide the combinations of data that give you those all-important numbers, but you are the last part of the equation.

Managing people has never been an exact science simply because people come from all backgrounds with different experience and personalities. But metrics give you leverage to put a little science and certainty into how you manage the people at your company.

It takes your mind and experience in HR to understand what piece of information will make the perfect metric for your company. You can then analyse the metrics and implement actions to support your findings. Metrics are the tool that provides information to lend your hand to the company’s success.

Download our human resources cheat sheet here