Evaluating HR Function: Key Performance Indicators

published on 24 January 2024

Evaluating HR functions can be challenging, with many metrics to track.

This article will identify the most critical KPIs for assessing HR impact, and how they connect to strategic goals.

We'll explore essential metrics like cost per hire, turnover rates, and employee engagement, as well as advanced analytics around manager effectiveness, workforce culture, and succession planning readiness. You'll learn pragmatic approaches to implement effective evaluation systems leveraging people analytics platforms, facilitating buy-in, and nurturing a culture of continuous improvement.

Assessing the Impact of HR Functions

HR functions play a critical strategic role in driving organizational success. However, many HR departments struggle to demonstrate their impact and return on investment. Evaluating HR performance through key performance indicators (KPIs) provides data-driven insights to optimize programs, guide decisions, and foster innovation.

The Strategic Role of HR in Organizational Success

Human Resources has evolved from an administrative function to a strategic partner. HR enables companies to attract, develop, engage, and retain top talent to meet business goals. By aligning HR initiatives with wider organizational objectives, HR helps drive sustainable growth.

However, HR teams often lack meaningful metrics to quantify their strategic influence. This makes it difficult to showcase value or gain buy-in from stakeholders.

Understanding HR Evaluation Through KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurable metrics that indicate progress towards strategic targets. KPIs serve as a lens to evaluate effectiveness of HR programs and processes.

Examples of common HR KPIs include:

  • Employee retention rate
  • Time to hire
  • Training program completion rates
  • Employee engagement survey scores
  • Recruiting cost per hire

Tracking KPIs over time enables data-driven decisions to optimize initiatives. Evaluating HR functions through KPIs is key to maximizing human capital impact.

Challenges Facing HR Leaders Today

Many HR departments grapple with talent attraction and retention issues, lack of skills development programs, poor succession planning, and cultural misalignment post-pandemic.

Without accurate HR metrics, leaders risk reactive decision-making. KPI evaluation provides insights to guide strategies around organizational priorities like DE&I, employee experience, upskilling, and more.

The Purpose and Value of Assessing HR Functions

In summary, evaluating HR performance through KPI tracking:

  • Quantifies HR's strategic influence with hard data
  • Highlights what's working well and areas needing improvement
  • Enables innovation based on actionable insights
  • Drives accountability to execute on human capital goals
  • Helps position HR as a value-adding business partner

Regular assessment via HR KPIs is crucial for optimization, demonstrating ROI, and steering impactful initiatives.

How do you evaluate HR function?

Evaluating the effectiveness of HR functions is critical for organizations to align human capital strategy with business goals and identify areas for improvement. Here are 12 key performance indicators (KPIs) HR leaders should track:


The time it takes from when a job requisition is opened to when an offer is accepted, measured in number of days. A lower time-to-hire indicates an efficient recruiting process. Goals should be set based on industry benchmarks.


The total spending on recruitment activities per hired candidate. This includes costs like job board postings, agency fees, travel expenditures, etc. A lower cost-per-hire is more efficient. Goals depend on role type and seniority.

Employee Engagement Rate

Percentage of employees who report feeling actively committed, passionate, and energized about their work. Conduct annual engagement surveys and aim for rates above 70%.


Total company revenue divided by the number of employees. Sets a workforce productivity target to maximize value. Goals vary by industry.

Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

Likelihood an employee would recommend the organization as a great place to work. Measure via annual surveys. Positive scores (above 0) indicate employee loyalty.

Regrettable Turnover Rate

Percentage of voluntary departures regarded as preventable and regrettable. Aim to minimize regretted attrition. Under 10% is a reasonable goal.

Manager Effectiveness

Ratings of how well managers coach, motivate, and support direct reports. Gather feedback through engagement surveys and manager assessments. 75%+ satisfaction aligns with top quartile.

Employee Retention Rate

Percentage of employees who remain employed at the organization over a set period of time. Benchmark against industry averages. Above 90% yearly retention is exceptional.

Regularly monitoring these HR metrics identifies top talent risks, spots process breakdowns, and helps continuously improve human capital strategy over time. Reliably hitting goals demonstrates that HR capabilities align with business objectives.

How do you evaluate HR capability?

Evaluating HR capability involves assessing current HR practices and identifying gaps to develop a strategic plan for improvement. Here are the key steps:

Define your business strategy

The first step is to clearly articulate the overall business strategy and goals. This provides direction for determining the workforce capabilities needed to execute that strategy. Key elements include growth plans, target markets, competitive differentiation, and operational priorities.

Analyze your workforce profile

Conduct an analysis of the current workforce composition across locations, roles, demographics, skills, performance levels, engagement levels, turnover rates, etc. Identify strengths to leverage and gaps to address. Ensure the workforce data is integrated with organizational and HR metrics.

Identify your workforce needs

Compare the current workforce profile with future strategic plans to reveal workforce gaps. Determine the critical jobs, competencies, and behaviors needed to achieve objectives. Forecast talent demands based on growth projections and upcoming initiatives that will place new demands on human capital.

Evaluate your HR practices

Assess how existing HR policies, processes, systems, and programs align with strategic talent needs. Consider which capabilities need improvement or new innovations to optimize workforce planning, recruiting, development, retention, and culture. Identify what HR lacks to build the workforce of the future.

Develop your HR plan

Create a data-driven HR strategy and roadmap focused on developing talent capabilities for organizational success. Set SMART goals, secure buy-in across leadership, and establish success metrics. Continually revisit and refine the plan as the business strategy evolves.

Here's what else to consider:

  • Adopting HR analytics for data-driven decisions
  • Using AI and automation to enhance efficiency
  • Benchmarking HR capabilities against top competitors
  • Incorporating regular capability maturity assessments
  • Setting leading and lagging performance indicators
  • Collaborating across executives to unify priorities

Evaluating HR functions takes a analytical approach to determine what HR capabilities are mission-critical. This process enables strategic talent planning rather than reactive responses. It requires integrating HR data points with business metrics to reveal what capabilities need improvement. This ultimately leads to an HR strategy aligned with corporate objectives.

How do you evaluate HR strategy?

Evaluating and updating your HR strategy periodically is critical to ensuring your workforce strategies align with your business goals and support organizational success. Here are some key steps:

  1. Assess your current state. Review your existing HR strategy and analyze key workforce metrics and talent indicators. Look at turnover rates, time-to-hire, employee engagement survey results, training completion rates, etc. Identify what's working well and what needs improvement.

  2. Define your desired state. Based on your business strategy and goals, determine the optimal workforce strategy and key objectives you want to achieve. This clarity of vision is essential.

  3. Identify the gaps and root causes. Compare your current state to your desired future state and pinpoint the gaps. Analyze the root causes and underlying issues contributing to those gaps through structured approaches.

  4. Develop your action plan. Outline the initiatives and actions needed to close the gaps and achieve your goals. Detail the resources required, owners, timelines and success metrics.

  5. Implement your action plan. Execute the plan, tracking progress and making adjustments as needed. Communication and change management will be key enablers.

  6. Evaluate your results and update your HR strategy. Measure the impact of your efforts, assess what worked well and what didn't, and use those insights to further refine your strategy going forward.

  7. Here's what else to consider:

  • Align with business leaders on priorities
  • Leverage data and analytics throughout
  • Involve key stakeholders in shaping plans
  • Set measurable goals and track progress
  • Maintain flexibility to pivot as needed

Evaluating and evolving your HR strategy is an iterative, collaborative process focused on meeting changing business workforce needs. Consistent assessment and adjustment is key for driving better results over time.

How do you evaluate an HR system?

Evaluating an HR system requires a strategic, methodical approach to ensure it meets the organization's needs. Here are some key steps:

Analyze the Current System

  • Document current HR processes, pain points, and requirements
  • Assess where the system falls short in functionality, reporting, analytics, etc.
  • Survey employees on satisfaction with existing system

Conduct an HR Strategy Review

  • Align evaluation to overall HR and business strategy
  • Define required capabilities based on strategy (recruiting, compensation planning, etc.)

Assemble an Evaluation Team

  • Include HR leaders, IT, finance, managers, end-users
  • Leverage various perspectives on needs

Gather System Requirements

  • Functional requirements
  • Technology requirements - cloud, mobile, APIs, security, etc.

Request Vendor Demos

  • Provide requirements checklist for vendors to address
  • Compare solutions to current gaps
  • Assess vendor viability - customer support, roadmap, etc.

Evaluate Costs

  • Subscription fees, implementation, training, customization
  • Measure against value delivered

Following a methodical approach ensures all stakeholders are engaged, and key criteria are evaluated when selecting a new HR system. This enables better alignment to HR and business goals.


Core HR KPIs and Metrics To Track

Evaluating the performance of HR functions is critical for identifying what is working well and areas for improvement. Tracking key metrics provides data-driven insights to guide effective workforce strategies. Here are some of the most vital HR key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor:

Cost Per Hire

The cost per hire metric calculates the average expenditure for each new employee onboarded. This includes costs like:

  • Job advertising
  • Background checks
  • Agency fees
  • Technology expenses
  • HR administration

Analyzing this KPI over time and benchmarking against industry standards helps evaluate recruiting efficiency. Spikes may indicate issues like over-reliance on expensive external recruiters or inadequate in-house sourcing capabilities.

Time to Fill Open Positions

Measuring the number of days for filling open roles from posting the requisition to offer acceptance evaluates hiring workflow speed. Delayed hiring can negatively impact productivity and candidate experience.

Shortening time to fill depends on streamlining processes like:

  • Requisition approvals
  • Screening and interviews
  • Assessments
  • Offer negotiation

Bottlenecks can be identified by calculating time to fill by department, level, or location.

Turnover and Retention Rates

Monitoring turnover and retention rates over set periods determines the percentage of employees that have left or remained with the company. High turnover is problematic, incurring replacement costs while losing institutional knowledge.

Potential turnover causes may include:

  • Lack of growth opportunities
  • Weak culture fit
  • Low compensation
  • Poor management

Retention rate trends also evaluate engagement strategies. Increasing retention protects talent investments and continuity.

Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

Conducting periodic engagement surveys and pulse checks provides perception metrics on aspects like:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Workplace culture
  • Manager effectiveness
  • Growth and development

High participation rates coupled with favorable scores indicate positive employee experience. Declining or low engagement signals problems that can manifest as turnover or performance issues if unaddressed.

Training Effectiveness and Development Opportunities

It’s essential to gauge training program impact on employee capability building and career progression. Relevant metrics cover:

  • Program completion rates
  • Pre- and post-training assessments
  • Promotion rates of trained employees
  • Utilization of learning management systems

Development opportunities also influence retention and advancement. Tracking employee participation provides useful data on uptake and demand trends.

Monitoring these HR KPIs supplies objective data to identify priorities and formulate workforce strategies centered on productivity, retention, and employee growth. The key is consistently tracking metrics over time to uncover trends and measure progress. This drives data-informed decisions and interventions tailored towards resolving issues and enhancing human capital management.

Advanced HR Analytics and Metrics

Explores more complex people analytics metrics that provide deeper workforce insights.

Manager Effectiveness Scores

Manager effectiveness scores provide a data-driven way to evaluate and compare the quality of people managers across the organization. This can be calculated by analyzing performance reviews, 360-degree feedback surveys, and employee engagement scores of direct reports.

The metrics quantify how well a manager supports, develops, and retains their team members. It identifies the highest and lowest performing managers to inform development programs or managerial changes. By linking manager scores to business KPIs like team productivity and turnover rates, organizations can clearly see the financial impact of investing in manager quality.

Employee Lifetime Value

Calculating employee lifetime value (LTV) helps assess the return on investment from talent and inform workforce decisions. This people analytics metric estimates the future value that an employee is likely to contribute over their tenure.

Factors like performance data, flight risk, compensation, and tenure are used to model individual LTV. High potential employees with longer projected tenure have higher LTV. These workforce insights guide decisions on development programs, retention offers, and succession planning.

Workforce Culture Scores

Workforce culture scores utilize pulse surveys and NLP analysis of workplace dialogue to benchmark and track corporate culture over time. Aspects like trust, transparency, innovation, and accountability can be measured through employee feedback.

Gaps between the aspirational culture and actual employee experience are revealed, along with insights on how perceptions vary by team and demographics. This enables data-driven culture initiatives targeting areas needing improvement. Ongoing measurement ensures culture efforts achieve a positive ROI through increased retention and engagement.

Diversity and Inclusion Metrics

Effective D&I measurement tracks demographic data, hiring funnel metrics, promotion rates, compensation by gender/race, and inclusion survey scores. Each diversity and inclusion initiative should have predefined targets and success metrics.

For example, setting goals to have X% diverse candidates in the hiring funnel, reduce adverse impact on minority groups by Y%, and improve inclusion scores by Z points. The metrics quantify progress over time, helping leaders make necessary adjustments to D&I programs.

Succession Planning Readiness

Succession planning readiness evaluates how prepared an organization is to fill critical roles through a data-driven framework assessing:

  • Role criticality - which positions have the highest business impact and talent scarcity
  • Bench strength - the number and readiness of successors for each critical role
  • Transition risk - factors like pending retirements and regrettable turnover

Readiness dashboards spotlight high risk roles lacking qualified successors. By identifying succession gaps early, organizations can mitigate risk through targeted development plans, external hiring, cross-training, etc. Assessing readiness ensures continuity for mission-critical roles.

Tying Metrics to Concrete HR Goals

Evaluating HR functions requires connecting key performance indicators (KPIs) to concrete talent management goals. Core metrics provide data-driven insights to optimize strategies for acquiring, developing, and retaining top talent.

Increasing Recruiting ROI

Tracking cost per hire and time to fill open roles reveals spending efficiency and recruiting process effectiveness.

  • Monitoring cost per hire ensures budgets align to hiring volume and talent quality targets. Assessing expenditure per new employee hired spotlights when recruiting costs may be excessive compared to the value delivered.

  • Analyzing time to fill uncovers bottlenecks causing hiring delays. Lengthy vacancy durations risk losing qualified candidates and hinder business operations. Fast applicant screening and selection speeds onboarding of mission-critical roles.

Optimizing these metrics builds an agile, cost-efficient recruiting machine able to rapidly source prime talent at scale.

Boosting Employee Retention

Using turnover rate and retention rate data exposes opportunities to improve employee lifecycle management. High attrition levels signify disengaged, unsatisfied staff more prone to resigning. Boosting retention requires enhancing workplace culture, career growth prospects, and employee experience.

  • Turnover rate shows the portion of the workforce voluntarily exiting over a period. Sudden upticks may reflect underlying issues diminishing engagement and loyalty.

  • Retention rate displays the percentage of talent choosing to remain employed long-term. Low ratios indicate poor employee satisfaction and advancement potential.

Tackling turnover and retention rate pain points nurtures an engaged, thriving workforce delivering sustained high performance.

Strengthening Management

Manager effectiveness scores spotlight development areas for elevating leadership capabilities organization-wide. Surveying direct reports on qualities like communication, support, and strategic thinking provides constructive feedback.

Targeted management training programs address identified weaknesses, equipping leaders with the interpersonal aptitude and business acumen to motivate top talent. The downstream impact cascades across departments as stronger oversight and guidance enhances productivity.

Enhancing Training and Development Outcomes

Analyzing training program ROI and internal fill rate connects learning initiatives to long-term competency building and career progression. Demonstrating how upskilling translates into organizational objectives garners ongoing investment.

  • Training program ROI compares program costs to the value gained via improved individual and team effectiveness. Positive returns validate the performance lift and justify continuous skills development.

  • Internal fill rate shows what percentage of open positions are filled by internal candidates. High rates indicate robust pipelines nurturing talent prepared for advancement into critical roles.

Sustained measurable ROI cements training as a vital driver of talent utilization, mobility, and retaining intellectual capital.

Advancing Diversity and Succession Initiatives

Diversity metrics like demographic composition analysis and succession planning coverage evaluate how inclusive and sustainable growth strategies are embedded organization-wide.

  • Expanding diversity requires tracking representation levels across locations, departments, management tiers, and other segments. Identifying imbalances spotlights areas needing tailored programs to widen access and opportunity.

  • Robust succession plans ensure critical positions have ready successors through focused mentoring, job rotations, and upskilling. Assessing coverage by role type prevents business risk exposure from unplanned departures of pivotal employees.

Interventions enhancing diversity and succession planning feed into overarching efforts to build a resilient, equitable workplace culture.

Evaluating HR holistically using metrics intersecting top talent acquisition, development, and retention connects data to actions for reaching KPI targets and strategic goals. HR functions fulfilling their mission sustain organizations well-positioned to capitalize on future opportunities.

Implementing Evaluation Systems and Processes

Offers best practices for setting up infrastructure to regularly collect, analyze, and act on HR KPIs at any organization.

Leveraging People Analytics Platforms

Specialized people analytics platforms and HR software solutions provide the infrastructure to systematically gather, contextualize, visualize, and derive insights from employee data. These tools utilize AI and machine learning algorithms to detect trends and patterns across the workforce. Key capabilities include:

  • Automated data collection from HRIS, ATS, payroll, engagement surveys etc.
  • Customizable HR dashboards with dynamic visualizations of KPIs
  • Predictive modeling and sentiment analysis for issues like turnover risk
  • Data quality checks and normalization for accuracy
  • Easy connection to BI tools like Tableau or Power BI

Organizations should evaluate options to determine the optimal platform to meet their people analytics strategy based on current tech stack, size and complexity.

Structuring HR Analytics Teams

Effective interpretation and application of people data requires dedicated HR analytics roles. Typical cross-functional responsibilities include:

  • Data Engineers: Focus on pipelines, integrity and infrastructure.
  • Data Analysts: Generate reports/insights from HR data.
  • Data Scientists: Build statistical models and algorithms for predictions.
  • HRBPs: Contextualize findings, drive adoption by managers.

Ideally, these team members will collaborate to extract and communicate insights that bridge technical expertise and business priorities.

Facilitating Stakeholder Buy-In

Executive sponsorship, manager adoption and employee trust are vital for people analytics success. Tactics include:

  • Educate on benefits of data-driven decisions for talent strategy.
  • Involve stakeholders early to determine key questions and KPIs.
  • Maintain transparency on data practices and privacy safeguards.
  • Equip managers to have effective data conversations with teams.
  • Share quick wins first to demonstrate value and spur buy-in at all levels.

Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

The long-term goal is to embed evidence-based evaluation into everyday workforce decisions and processes. Steps for achieving this include:

  • Establish safe spaces for giving and receiving feedback.
  • Incentivize data-driven recommendations from managers and employees
  • Act quickly to address any priorities uncovered by HR KPIs
  • Close the loop by communicating improvements driven by people data

This cultural foundation will ensure insights translate into positive impact rather than just reporting for reporting's sake.

Ensuring Data Integrity and Compliance

Accurate, unbiased metrics require proper data governance through:

  • Documented policies, procedures and quality checks.
  • Access controls, encryption and anonymization techniques.
  • Regular audits by IT and HR teams.
  • Enable employees to update personal information.
  • Ongoing training about responsible data practices.

Proactive measures allow organizations to uphold privacy obligations and trust while leveraging data for better decisions.

Conclusion: The Way Forward with HR KPIs

Regularly evaluating key performance indicators (KPIs) is critical for HR functions looking to optimize efficiency, guide strategic decisions, foster innovation, and propel talent management success. As metrics and analytics continue evolving, there are a few best practices HR leaders should embrace:

Critical HR Metrics to Prioritize

When determining which KPIs to track, focus on those tied to overarching business goals while providing actionable insights. Top metrics to consider include:

  • Cost per hire - monitors recruiting efficiency
  • Turnover rate - indicates retention and engagement levels
  • Manager quality scores - evaluates manager performance
  • Time to hire - tracks recruiting process speed
  • Pay equity stats - ensures compensation fairness

Linking Analytics to Strategic Goals

View metrics not as isolated data points but as an integrated ecosystem, with each KPI directly informing talent strategy around hiring, development, compensation, and advancement. Measure progress toward DE&I targets.

Building an HR Data Ecosystem

A robust analytics framework requires an integrated HR tech stack, dedicated data analysis team, executive-level support, and widespread organizational adoption. Move beyond siloed datasets toward centralized HR data governance.

Embracing the Future of HR Analytics

Continue leading the way with people analytics innovation. Experiment with predictive modeling, sentiment analysis, and other emerging methodologies. Leverage AI and ML to uncover richer insights and make metrics actionable across all HR subfunctions.

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