How To Measure Human Resources Effectiveness

measure human resources effectiveness

Let’s be honest here. HR people aren’t always the most popular people in the company. That’s not that big of a surprise, really, since they are usually the face of performance improvement processes, layoffs, annual reviews, and all those other fun processes.

Plenty of the time, they have to be the bad guy.

What about all the other things that HR is supposed to handle though? Have we forgotten all about the real purpose of “Human Resources” and turned the job into the office’s keeper of the process? Between the mandatory employee engagement action plans and completed performance management forms, is that so hard to believe?

HR leaders aren’t supposed to be some militant watchdog – they’re the driver of talent management. They’re supposed to be the group responsible shaping future leaders and ensuring that its current leaders are agents of change. In the age of knowledge workers, there is probably not a part of the organization that is more important than HR.

This is NOT the position of a bad guy or the “People Process Police”. In fact, HR leaders should be looking for ways to unleash the organization’s leaders not miring them in process.

So let’s get real – are you helping the organization to be their best, or just instituting programs? If you had to give yourself an honest assessment, a letter grade even, how would you rank your own performance?

Seriously – how would you measure human resources effectiveness in your organization if the criteria were the following:

  • Impact to business goals
  • Impact on engagement
  • Impact on being ready for change


HR’s programs, practices and initiatives should be designed to positively impact business goals. Not just “cost of hire” or “cost of attrition” type of metrics. Those are passive measures. HR needs to link each and every program to a specific business goal. It is likely that the success of the goal will not be solely impact by HR, but that’s not really the point.

No HR program should be started or continued unless it’s connected to a business outcome or goal.

How many of your programs have a direct impact on business goals?

According to SHRM’s “Future of the HR Profession” white paper one of the most critical areas of focus (and improvement) for HR is to

“quantify in dollar terms the value HR initiatives bring to the bottom line, is the best way to ensure future investment in the HR function.”

If you had to give a grade for your organization on impact, what would it be?


There has been a lot of talk over the past years about employee engagement. The problem is not that organizations aren’t concerned about it. They are spending countless hours and dollars on it. Unfortunately, the results have been less than stellar.

“A recent national study by Dale Carnegie Training placed the number of “fully engaged” employees at 29%, and “disengaged” employees at 26% – meaning nearly three-quarters of employees are not fully engaged (aka productive)” – Victor Lipman (@VictorLipman1)

With all of the measuring and talking about engagement, very little of significant impact is being done. Study after study shows that there are a handful of methods to drive employee engagement:

  • Get results to people quickly
  • Empower teams, managers and employees to take action immediately
  • Connect employee engagement to business goals/outcomes that matter
  • Make sure that the business owns engagement, not HR
  • Make engagement part of the every day, part of a leader’s routine

How many of these does your organization enact? If you had to grade your organization on how it impact’s employee engagement, what would it be?


One of the most important roles of HR is to ensure the organization is ready for and looking forward to change.

“Forces at work in … business — increased competition, rapidly shifting technologies, and emerging disruptive business models — are the forces that are reshaping many parts of the global economy “ – Scott Anthony

It’s cliché, but true – change is the new normal. Organizations that are not constantly ready and even looking for change are doomed to failure. It’s HR job to make sure its leaders are agents of change.

Is HR in your organization looked upon as change experts? Do other parts of the organization regularly call upon HR to lead or facilitate change?

If you had to grade yourself on how well you’re preparing the organization for change, what would it be?
There are many areas that require HR’s expertise and wisdom. HR can push organizations to greater impact or fight mightily for the status quo. If you were grading HR for your organization, which role would you say they play?

I’d be curious to hear about other areas of grading for HR. What are critical factors that HR plays on an organization’s success. Please let me know your thoughts!

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Employee Engagement Strategies: Help People See Impact

Here’s one of the best employee engagement strategies around: help your people see the impact they have on gaining or retaining customers.

employee engagement strategiesCulture and operations are a little different for every company, and because of that, finding ways to spur employee engagement takes a unique and fresh approach for each individual business.

To get a sense for what drives real engagement (at real companies), here is the second lesson that depend directly on “outside the box” thinking and a disruptive approach to typical engagement efforts.

You see the principles all over the place, but so many people ask me how they can actually use this stuff in their own businesses – here are the second of two real life examples:

A powerful method of improving engagement and driving employee passion is summed up in one simple concept: impact.

In a discussion with a senior accounting manager, she related some difficulty helping her employees with engagement.

She felt like her folks were really great – they were actually exceptional accountants, saving the company millions of dollars a year – but they felt like they could do the very same job anywhere, like it wouldn’t really make a difference where they worked. In many cases, they were just going through the motions.

The question I began to ponder was, what if it did make a difference? What if what we did in this accounting department made life better or easier for customers? What if we played a really large role in gaining and retaining customers?

At an employee meeting the following day, I asked them if they felt like what they did made a difference. After a long bit of silence, some responded that they certainly save the company money.

I agreed with them and asked, “How do we help gain and retain customers?”

There was silence in the room. I said, “We play a huge role in making sure the customers are well taken care of, ensuring that they get the very best service. I’d like you all think about the impact that we make. Come to our next meeting prepared to talk about how.

During the next meeting, two employees (who have been with the company the longest) seemed to be percolating with energy. It was as if they couldn’t wait to start talking. If you know any accountants, unless it has something to do with debits and credits, jumping to start a conversation just isn’t usually in their nature.

I asked who wanted to answer the question from our last meeting, and Bob just started talking!

“I came to realize that the process I’m in charge of – the process that helps find how and where we might overcharge customers – goes a long way in retaining them. I know that some of our operations and sales people don’t necessarily like the work that I do, but if I were a customer and received a check as a refund for charges, that would make me pretty happy about working with our company!”

What a great answer!

Then it was Sally’s turn to answer…

“I work with our vendors, and try to negotiate with them to reduce their fees. In turn, we pass those savings on to our customers in the form of lower rates, or sometimes just an overall reduced bill. Recognizing that helps me see that what I do really does help us retain our larger customers, which helps to make sure that I get a paycheck.”

I asked the team if they would consider how their jobs help the company gain and retain customers. I asked them to look at what they are doing now – if it’s not helping to gain or retain customers, we should discuss whether it can be altered to meet that goal – or removed from the process entirely.

In that moment, we shifted from “just” an accounting team to a team responsible for gaining and retaining customers. We supported the folks that sold to and dealt with our customers.

In that year, we:

  • Eliminated over 15 different processes that had been in place for years, simply because they either hindered gaining customers or made it difficult to retain customers.
  • Streamlined the reimbursement policy for travel and entertainment
  • Made it easier for customers to dispute charges
  • Maybe most importantly, we identified when sales people made improvements to our process, actually incorporating their workarounds into our standing processes. This not only helped to make their jobs easier, but also reduced the amount of time we spent on the phone trying to get unnecessary paperwork or approvals. We still had to make sure that we used proper expenditure documentation for tax reasons, of course, but when our partners in the business saw that we were interested in working with the sales team for efficiency, they were much more supportive of what we were trying to do.

The following year, our engagement scores went from the 35th percentile to the 75th percentile. But more importantly, our accounting team went from focusing on overhead to thinking about gaining and retaining customers. So, the biggest lesson I learned about employee engagement was to help our team (and myself) see our impact throughout the entire business.

Uncover the link between what your team does and gaining/retaining customers. Understanding that direct line of sight to the customer increases profit, productivity, AND engagement.

While these might not be an exact match to your organization or unique situation, you can see how some creative thinking (and a willingness to collaborate within an organization) led to BIG results. Hopefully, you can use this as a starting point for making engagement “real” for your team.

What employee engagement strategies have you seen work in the “real” world (and not just on paper)? Let me know, and I’d be glad to share your story!

What If Your Employee Engagement Process Is All Wrong?

employee engagement processEmployee engagement is a topic that floods LinkedIn discussions. There are, it seems, hundreds of blogs written about it every week, yet there’s still a gap between the theoretical and practical benefit of engagement. What gives?



  • Buy/build survey
  • Communicate and extol the virtues of survey and engagement
  • Launch survey
  • Harangue people to take survey
  • Wait 3 to 6 months (sometime much longer) to get results
  • Massage data to present to senior leaders
  • Get tacit commitment from said senior leaders to follow through
  • Roll out results to organization
  • Ask managers or department heads to review scores with teams
  • Harangue teams for action plans
  • Send out bi-annual engagement reminders
  • Start process over the following year

There is a great deal of effort put in by a small group of managers regarding engagement, but those are the ones doing well anyway. For the most part, engagement is seen as another HR Program – and is met with immediate malaise.

“Engagement not integrated into day to day management practices is doomed to compliance at best and failure at worst”

What if we are starting employee engagement at the wrong point? What if the whole practice is wrong?


During senior leadership planning for the upcoming fiscal year, identify a key business goal that is achieved only through people (or at least primarily), such as:

  • Increasing current customer sales
  • Reducing in customer attrition
  • Decreasing production errors

Link engagement to reaching key business goals. This may take some research and discussion with thought leaders in the field, but the causal data is out there. After determining goals, try the following to make engagement really work for your organization:

  • Make sure the business goal is one that impacts many leaders
  • Create an annual engagement plan that outlines actions and tools to be developed to support leaders
  • Create communication, tools, etc. prior to the survey roll out – or even before selection
  • Select engagement champions in each business unit to drive engagement at the local level
  • Select or build survey
  • Launch survey
  • Get results within one month – any vendor worth their salt can do this
  • Present findings and recommendations to senior leaders and roll out specific results to each manager the same day
  • Discuss, work on, communicate, and integrate engagement throughout the year – remember that it’s linked to a key business goal
  • Put the emphasis on what happens after the survey, not in the survey
  • Link engagement to business results
  • Make engagement a daily conversation

Doing this shifts engagement from an impersonal program to a discussion of “how we do business.” It’s not another thing to do, but an integral part of how a manager is successful.

What do you think? How have you seen engagement make an organization more profitable or productive?

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