Skip to main content

Human Resources Metrics

News  |  By Lena J. Weiner  
   July 31, 2017

This article first appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

HealthLeaders Media Council members discuss the metrics their organizations use to track employee satisfaction.  

Lynette Walker

Vice President, Human Resources

Baptist Health Hospital

Lexington, Kentucky

We do not use just one metric; we try to utilize various measurements. We do stay interviews at 30 days, 90 days, and one year; we do biannual engagement surveys to determine down to the department level what concerns employees might have. 

And, of course, there’s the traditional HR metrics: turnover, vacancy rate, and time to fill a position. If we see that we have increased turnover, that speaks for itself. We also know that sometimes certain departments and units get reputations as not being particularly great places to work, so we pay attention to things like whether it’s taking us longer to fill positions on a particular unit, and we do a little detective work to find out why that is.

In short, we try to look at this up and down, sideways, and all through the spectrum to gain insight into how our employees perceive the organization and the decisions we make. 

We have changed the way we do our awards and recognition based on feedback that we receive through our engagement survey. It has also helped us review our onboarding process and our orientation programs for certain positions.

We’ve additionally looked at our attendance policy; workers thought we were being a little too strict, so we looked at how we needed to change that, and we instituted greater flexibility in scheduling. All of this is based on feedback we’ve received from our employees. 

Alex MacLennan, PHR, SHRM-CP

Chief Human Resource Officer 

Tahoe Forest Health System 

Truckee, California

HR metrics are incredibly important. The role of human resources continues to transition from an administrative-function wing position within organizations to a strategic partner. With the use of data, we’re able to benchmark and use it to develop strategies that can engage workers. 

We partner with Press Ganey Associates for both our employee engagement and patient satisfaction surveys. We created several other surveys internally that we use to measure engagement as well. Some of the themes of these surveys include environment, pride, teamwork, recognition and opportunities, and trust. 

We send these internally created surveys out to 30–50 employees out of our approximately 750 healthcare workers at random every few months to get a snapshot of how we’re doing as an organization. It allows us to measure over time how we’re doing. 

We’ve also started looking at employee turnover as a metric. We started to ask each of our managers to review their previous month’s terminations, whether by resignation or by a disciplinary action, and then report back to us whether those employees had been high performers, average performers, or low performers. That tells us whether we’re losing our best workers, or if the turnover we’re seeing is among lower performers.

Becky Rauen 

Director, Human Resources 

Maple Grove (Minnesota) Hospital

I did some research around employee engagement metrics last year, and it was frustrating. There really aren’t many resources available outside of going through the survey process and spending oodles of dollars, and we think that doesn’t maintain the necessary, intentional, and ongoing conversation engagement should be.

So I started looking into other metrics around the hospital, realizing that they were part of the story and what’s really going on with regard to engagement. 

Because I was struggling to find perfect metrics, I decided instead to go with the imperfect ones that invited conversations with workers, managers, and teams. 

We’ve cobbled together a series of metrics that I think give us good insight into our relationship with our workers. We still do a formal engagement survey once a year, but we try to rely on informal metrics. We use a scorecard with different topics that examine the mood of every department.

Some of the traditional HR metrics we use are related to engagement, such as employee turnover and first-year turnover. We look at the amount of recognition funds we use—we allow each department to have some dollars they can use to recognize employee contributions, and it’s good to see the correlation between spending and engagement. 

We look at things like the number of employee referrals to recruitment, and we look at funds used and requests for internal training and development. We also look at attendance: how often people are calling off their shifts, and attendance for team meetings. 

Patricia Webb, FACHE

Executive Vice President/Chief Administrative
Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer

Catholic Health Initiatives 

Englewood, Colorado

We conduct an annual employee engagement survey across our enterprise. We also have a board of trustees that has pinpointed employee engagement as a key area for us to track and measure.

We focus primarily on the concept of being a member of this organization; whether the employee is proud to be a part of our organization, how engaged he or she is in the success of the organization, and whether the employee knows how to engage within the organization. 

We recently had a fairly in-depth cultural assessment and we got a lot of participation, and we occasionally conduct pulse-check surveys. 

On deciding which data to measure: As a healthcare organization, we have sought to align our engagement, satisfaction, and quality scores, as we know from research that a highly engaged employee base translates to increased patient satisfaction. Our survey contains 50–60 questions, but the highlights are pride in workplace and motivation.

We have conducted research that has determined that pride in working for a particular organization is an indicator of engagement, so we began measuring that.

It is the same with highly motivated employees: Are employees motivated to contribute to the success of the organization? Do they find their work environment rewarding? If so, they are likely to be highly engaged. These two factors are indicators of engagement that should serve as benchmarks not only in healthcare, but across industries.  


Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.