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The Metrics That Matter Most To HR Leaders (Spark Live 2024)

The average organization invests 70% of its budget into, arguably, its greatest asset: employees. When these employees are equipped with the right skills and opportunities, they become a powerful competitive advantage. 

To get the most out of this investment in people, you need to understand the key metrics, strategies, and actions that can positively influence your team’s impact. Organizations that master this are the ones that truly win. 

Matt Fenton, SVP Customer Strategy & Advisory at Beamery, hosted a panel on this topic at Spark Live 2024 – inviting Lara Farrell, who is Global Head of TA Programmes at Hilti; Nigel Williams, Global Talent Acquisition Leader at BlackRock; and Elle Lebourg, who is the Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Hilti, to share their views on the metrics that matter most… 

1. The all-important time to hire. ⏱️

Everyone agreed on the continued importance of this HR metric, but they also touched on some additional methods to measure the effectiveness of TA… and to communicate the value of your recruitment efforts to the business. 

Elle Lebourg noted that she had recently presented to leaders from across Hilti, and walked them through the process (and numbers involved) of going from applicants, to screening resumes, to making one hire. The detail around the hiring funnel led to a lightbulb moment for many non-HR colleagues about the time and effort involved – and, crucially, the cost. 

“How do we translate that into ultimately a language that people understand? And that’s dollars. And so we were able to say… if we can shrink our time to fill by a certain percentage, that’s going to equal money in your pocket.” – Elle Lebourg 

But time to hire or time to fill don’t tell the full business story. Lara Farrell mentioned the importance of “time to start” and Nigel Williams talked about “time to effectiveness.” The idea is to look at traditional TA metrics through more of a business lens: just because somebody accepted an offer doesn’t change the fact that a team has an empty seat.  

roi panel

2. Candidate quality. 🤩

Another talking point was how you can reach the right candidate with the right role at the right time – and through the ideal medium – in order to boost application numbers, conversion, and ultimately candidate quality.

“The great thing now with systems and integrations is the ability to get way more granular and be like: the people I hire through this source, or the people that come in through this channel… do they perform better?” – Nigel Williams

Lara Farrell referenced using market insights to “make sure that we are talking to the right audience in the right place about the right topics”  – and Nigel Williams mentioned the idea of getting the “right hires in the right locations”, even across different verticals and markets. 

Being able to infuse the most appropriate version of your EVP into the candidate journey came through as a crucial aspect of hiring – particularly passive hiring, which was something Hilti is prioritizing as they look to improve efficiency, and reach those quality candidates who are not actively looking.  

3. Recruiter confidence. 💪🏽 

OK, this wasn’t really a metric anyone was measuring, but it was an interesting discussion point – how a data-driven HR function leads to more confident TA professionals, and elevates their status within the organization. 

Being able to share useful insights with hiring managers, such as data about the wider labor market, helps recruiters become more like “strategic advisors”. This also helps improve the manager experience: managers face the same challenges of navigating a changing talent landscape, but without being immersed in it every day – so they need a trusted expert.  

“How do we evolve from being that team who maybe received instruction from the business and worked in service of the hiring managers towards true strategic partners who are bringing information, who are advising, who are challenging when needed?” – Lara Farrell 

4. Employee productivity. 📈

Host Matt Fenton noted that your highest performers are about 400% more productive than your average worker, and Nigel Williams shared how BlackRock is using employee listening as a way to not only measure sentiment, but to prove what it is that really impacts retention and productivity.

“Seeing the employees that belong have a higher sense of pride at the firm. And if they have a higher sense of pride at the firm, they have a higher intent to stay. And we have all of the alignment, all of the data. We can click this down into the business units. So it makes a very, very compelling story.” – Nigel Williams

It’s clear that talent intelligence collected by HR can be shared throughout the business, to help leaders and managers (not just HR teams) decide on the best courses of action.

5. Pipeline… and skills needed for the future. 🔮

As people talked about better metrics, and becoming more advisory as a function, they mentioned the importance of looking ahead – of being able to prepare the business for what’s next, decide on location strategies, and create strategies for building the skills they will need in the future. 

“How many people are we developing through the business, and what do we need to replace those people with, and what are the skills going to be that we need in five years time, and where can I start looking for those now so that we can be quite intentional about what we need and when, so we can really start building up those pipelines that will add value.” – Lara Farrell  

Building that valuable pipeline also relies on a smart approach to data and measurement – and a common language of skills – to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

“Being skills-first, I think, is a great way to kind of preserve where we’re going in the future. So ditch the traditional job description, the rigidity of those, and really think about maximizing the investment on the skills side.” – Elle Lebourg

6. Speed to insight! 🚀

Panelists agreed that better workforce planning relied on breaking down silos, having more open conversations – and having that shared view of that talent-related data. They noted the importance of the accessibility of data, and how it can aid collaboration, while saving valuable recruiter time. 

“The fundamental thing was just making sure that we’ve got some data that everybody can access that’s clearly visualized and that we know is accurate.” – Lara Farrell 

Whatever metrics you are working with in HR, using smart dashboards can help. Both Hilti and BlackRock felt that Power BI had freed up their teams to focus on the work that mattered, and helped them tell more compelling stories relating talent goals to business goals. 

“One thing it’s done [is] just help people realize we’re all in it together… We’re having an informed decision using the same data points. And so the business feels like, I get it. I have the same access to data.” – Nigel Williams 

🌟 Watch the on-demand recording of this session, or learn more about Spark Live.