Monday, 28 March 2011

Bersin: Measuring HCM in financial terms?


   Have you seen Bersin’s latest High Impact HR report?  There are a number of interesting findings in this, but the one that sticks out for me is the suggestion that the the greatest common factor shared by today’s HR leaders is measuring HR programmes in financial terms (mentioned by 35% of respondents and followed closely by delivering workforce metrics and analytics, mentioned by 26% of the sample).

Really?  Not improving engagement, creating a more compelling culture, or raising capability?  Not improving collaboration or the quality of conversation?  Not aligning organisation structures or redesigning roles to provide greater autonomy and integration?  Just measuring?


Now I’m delivering a two-day programme on HR metrics today so this isn’t a topic I’m unfamiliar with or see as unimportant.  But really?


There are a couple of things going on here for me – linked, or rather not linked!, to my previous post on HR’s POV.  And I guess the question is whether Bersin has unearthed a common POV about HCM, or whether it just proved that HR hasn’t got one?  That group-think reigns supreme?  This would be my suggestion.


I just don’t think that much of what we do in HR, or at least the parts of HR which are the most important, can be measured in financial terms.  They simply don’t have any absolute financial value, and their links to end financial value are simply to indistinct to place a financial value upon them.

This isn’t about HR’s inability to measure, lack of effective technology or the capability of HR professionals.  It’s simply about financial measures not being the appropriate units to measure what we do in HR.

Now if you’ve got a good basis to disagree with me on this, that’s fine – that’s a POV.  But if you’ve just accepted the “can’t manage what you can’t measure” mantra without really thinking this through, and without reading the cases of organisations which have changed things without measuring them, then I don’t think that is a POV at all.  It’s just following a fashion.  And the fashion in HR certainly seems to be moving towards measuring in financial terms.  But this doesn’t mean that it’s right or appropriate to do this.

What do you think?



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