HR Metrics: Why They’re So Hot – and Why HR Needs to Embrace Them

Editor’s Note: Dr. John Sullivan has been a strategist in HR and talent management for over 30 years. His specialty is HR strategy and designing world class HR systems and tools for Fortune 200 firms. He’s never been shy about telling it like it is.

That’s why TLNT asked him to share his thinking in a video series titled “$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” Look for these videos weekly here at TLNT.

One of the hottest topics in HR these days, according to Dr. John Sullivan, is HR metrics or HR analytics.
And why are HR metrics so hot? Here are two key reasons:
  • Because times are tough and people won’t to squeeze everything they can out of the resources they have. “And, you can’t improve things without good metrics,” Dr. John says. “Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, or all these different approaches are based on metrics;”
  • Because metrics are hot in business, and in tough times you need to measure to get the most out of your resources.

“Historically, HR metrics have gotten little attention because they’re historical metrics,” he notes. And that’s because most metrics from HR are reports and not decision-making tools — and are generally about what has happened in the past.

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“The best metrics are forward looking,” Dr. John says. “They tell you who is going to win the Super Bowl next year , not this year. They tell you why things happened, when they happened, and what you can do to overcome them.”

Plus, a knowledge of metrics can help you build a business case with the CFO and other executives to get more budget for HR projects and initiatives. “You can’t get your budget increased (or) your projects funded unless you understand metrics and the decision criteria of executives.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.