Your workforce is undoubtedly your organization’s most important asset. Without the right skills in place, it will be difficult to meet production demands, provide quality goods and services and grow your business. 

For these reasons, it’s likely your organization already has numerous workforce strategies in place to attract, acquire and retain the talent it needs. But do you know how well these strategies work for your organization?

If you’re not sure, you’re not alone. Many organizations implement various HR strategies but fail to measure their success. And a vast majority of organizations using HR metrics (77%) still only use basic data and for limited purposes. 

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Discover what are the most essential HR metrics for every step of your employees' journey

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what are HR metrics and why are they important?

HR metrics involve using a specific set of people data and calculations to track the effectiveness of your organization’s HR processes, including recruitment, onboarding and employee development. Analyzing HR metrics can help your company identify problems within the workforce, realize its strengths and compare its outcomes with competitors and industry standards. 

For example, a sudden spike in your turnover rate could signify a problem within the company. Identifying this problem quickly can give you the opportunity to fix any issues before they can damage your employer brand. Without active tracking, you may not realize the increase in turnover until you see several bad reviews online, production rates fall or recruitment costs rise. 

Using HR metrics allows your organization to take a proactive approach to attract and retain talent, rather than reactive, which can be ineffective and costly. 

benefits of using HR metrics

There are several great benefits your organization can achieve by using HR metrics to track the overall success of your people strategies, including:

  • acquire skilled talent
  • build a diverse and inclusive culture
  • narrow the skills gap
  • cut operating costs
  • boost productivity and engagement rates
  • improve business outcomes
  • identify organizational strengths and weaknesses
  • take proactive measures (rather than reactive)
  • build effective internal talent and succession pools
  • strengthen your employer brand

what are the most common HR metrics for every stage of the employee life cycle?

Thanks to today’s technology, we now have the ability to gather extensive amounts of  data. While this can help you track nearly every aspect of workforce management, it can also be overwhelming. This can make it difficult to determine which metrics are most valuable to your organization. To help narrow this down for you, this article breaks down the most essential HR metrics by each stage of the employee life cycle. 

attraction and recruitment

During this stage, your main goal is to attract a wide range of candidates that are a good fit for the role and your company. Thus, it’s crucial to implement effective recruitment marketing strategies, such as social media advertising and employer branding. Success is achieved when candidates eagerly sign an employment contract to join your company.

There are several metrics you can use to track your efforts, including:  

  • diversity of applicant pool: To ensure you attract a diverse set of candidates, it’s important to track candidate demographics such as gender, race, ethnicity, etc.
  • application completion rate: Tracking the completion rate can provide valuable insights into potential issues with the job application process or form.
  • source of hire: Knowing which channels are most effective in attracting and converting traffic into applicants and ultimately successful hires can save you valuable time and resources.
  • cost of hire: It’s critical to ensure your HR team keeps recruitment costs under control. One of the best HR metrics to use is cost-per-hire.
  • time to hire: Having an unfilled vacancy can impact everything from productivity to product quality and employee stress. It’s important to know how long, on average, it takes to fill open roles in various departments. 
  • offer acceptance rate: Attracting your target candidates is one thing, having them accept a job offer is another thing altogether. Thus, you should track how many candidates accept your job offers. 


The onboarding stage runs from the time the candidate accepts the job offer until they are fully assimilated into their role. This is one of the most critical moments in an employee’s journey. Studies show that more than 30% of new hires quit within the first 90 days, resulting in significant costs for organizations. Using HR metrics to track the success of your onboarding process can help keep this number to a minimum. Here’s a look at some of the most important metrics to track during this stage. 

  • new hire job satisfaction: Using surveys and one-on-one interviews can help you determine how satisfied your new workers are on the job. It can also provide insights into how to improve the onboarding process. 
  • time-to-productivity: To measure time-to-productivity, you must first identify specific KPIs that a new hire must meet for each role. 

new hire turnover: You should track your new hire turnover rates at various intervals of employment, such as at 1,3, 6, 9 and 12 months on the job. 

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Discover what are the most essential HR metrics for every step of your employees' journey

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training and development 

With the skills gap continuing to grow, employee training and development programs are more important than ever. But not just any program, it must be effective and beneficial to both your organization and your employees. The best way to track the effectiveness of your training and development strategies is through HR metrics, such as:

  • training costs per employee: To maximize your employee training budget, it’s critical to continuously track your training expenses per employee. You can compare these outcomes with your HR goals and objectives.
  • training hours per employee: Measuring the average number of hours employees spend undertaking training per year is a useful metric to evaluate the effectiveness of your training programs. 
  • training completion rate: You can also track the effectiveness of your training programs by measuring the percentage of employees who completed their training. 
  • talent mobility: Measuring the number of lateral and vertical moves within your organization provides an overall measure of your talent mobility efforts. 

engagement and retention stage

While it is crucial to attract talent to your company, it is just as essential to retain them.  By keeping your employees engaged and satisfied, you can minimize the costs associated with hiring new team members. To accomplish this, it's important to track certain metrics during this phase of the employee life cycle.

  • employee turnover: A spike in employee turnover can be a sign of a problem in the workplace. Besides tracking this metric, it’s critical to use employee surveys and interviews to identify the root of the problem and deal with it effectively. 
  • absenteeism rate: While it's common for everyone to occasionally take a few days off due to illness, a sustained rise in absenteeism could be a red flag for larger problems like a declining work atmosphere, workplace stress  or even a widespread flu epidemic. 
  • eNPS score: The employee net promoter score can help you determine how happy your employees are by asking them one simple question: ‘On a scale from 1-10, how likely are you to recommend family and friends to work for our organization?’ Scores of 9-10 are your promoters, scores of 7-8 are passive employees and scores of 6 and below are your detractors. 
  • promotion rate: Tracking your promotion rate can help you determine the success of your in-house advancement strategies. You should track this rate on a company-wide basis, as well as at various organizational levels and demographic groups.


Separation is a natural part of managing a workforce. However, it’s important to know why your employees are leaving. For example, are they leaving due to retirement, were they fired or did they leave for better job opportunities? Understanding the why can help you create policies and strategies to boost employee retention and keep your best workers. Here’s a look at the top metrics you should track during the separation phase.

  • exit interview completion rates: While it is crucial to track the individuals who fill out an exit survey when they leave, the true significance lies in the reasons and feedback they share. This valuable information allows you to gain a deeper understanding of why people are leaving.
  • voluntary turnover rates: Voluntary turnover represents the workers who willingly leave your company. This could be due to retirement, new job opportunities or numerous other reasons. It’s important to split this metric into sub reason codes to ensure you get enough granularity on why people are leaving.  Next to this, you can also track this rate on a company-wide, organizational, departmental and demographic level. 
  • involuntary turnover rates: Involuntary turnover represents employees who were either fired or laid off. While some involuntary turnover may be necessary due to downsizing, a high level could signify a poor recruitment process. Again,  it’s important to split this metric into sub reason codes to ensure you get enough granularity on why people are being terminated.  

These are just a few of the essential HR metrics that you can track. It is crucial to also prioritize and measure Diversity and Inclusion at every stage. To achieve this, you can dissect many of these metrics based on different demographic groups such as women, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities. For instance, you can analyze the turnover rate specifically for women or the application rate for baby boomers.

how to choose the right metrics for your organization?

Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to track and analyze your people data. It can also make it difficult to determine which metrics work best for your company. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to HR metrics. Rather, you must create a customized strategy that works best for your company.

There are several things to keep in mind when creating a strategy for using HR metrics.

overall company mission and vision

First and foremost, your strategy for using HR metrics must align with your company’s overall mission and vision. For example, if your company has a mission of diversity and inclusion, you must use metrics that allow you to track the efficiency of your DEI programs. Your HR department should work closely with company leaders to ensure they understand company expectations.

HR goals and objectives

It should go without saying but don’t forget to match your strategy for HR metrics with your HR goals and objectives as well as other organizational context, such as your company structure and size. It can be easy to get caught up in collecting and analyzing all this data that you forget the main purpose of tracking outcomes.  For example, if your primary goal is acquiring skilled talent, using metrics from the first three stages of the employee life cycle are most helpful.

industry-specific metrics

When choosing the right HR metrics for your organization, you must factor in your industry. Consider which metrics are the most relevant and meaningful to your industry, context and purpose. In other words, determine which metrics you can measure and analyze to improve workplace practices, solve specific problems or gain valuable insights.

Choosing the right metrics for your organization isn’t just a one-time process. Instead, you must frequently review your current HR metrics to ensure they still align with your company’s mission and vision, meet industry standards and help your organization meet its goals and objectives. 

Illustration lego blocks

Discover what are the most essential HR metrics for every step of your employees' journey

Download the cheat sheet
about the author
sandra ebbers
sandra ebbers

sandra ebbers

vp global concept inhouse & large accounts

Sandra is responsible for the implementation of the inhouse concept worldwide. This business concept adds value to large organizations by optimizing their workforce and guiding flex workers in a cost-efficient way of working.

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