SHRM Creating Standard Workforce Metrics

SHRM is creating a standard measurement for companies to gauge their most valuable asset, their employees. The reason for doing this is to make this information available to investors of public companies. The six general areas that they’re attempting to create standard metrics for, are: human capital spending;  ability to retain employees; quality of leadership; depth of leadership; employee engagement; and analysis, which leaves room for more discussion about broader areas of HR.

As with most ideas HR attempts to institute, there’s some push back. This time however, the disapproval isn’t coming from the employees, or the employers, but rather from other HR groups.

HR Policy Association (HRPA), is a lobbying group consisting of powerful HR managers. HRPA has concerns about the effect the availability of this kind of information will have on companies. They’re worried that information about the amount of time and money companies spend on payroll and training, and the quality of their employees, would end up being more valuable for competition than investors.

“The standard as drafted would require disclosure of confidential proprietary information that would be extremely valuable to the competition,” Tim Bartl senior official at HRPA says.

 “These are all things the competition would love to know,”
Bartl also has concerns about the level of value information like this would give investors.

“To put this kind of HR information into context would be difficult” he says.

Henry Eickelberg, VP for HR at General Dynamics (GD) and fellow HRPA member, weighs in on the subject.

“We are not selling cars where gas mileage is a number people can objectively use to choose among car models,” he says.

“They may be great metrics for management to use, but an individual investor or institutional investor would say, ‘What conclusions can I really draw from this?’ ”

 CEO of McBassi & Co., (a human capitol analytic consulting firm) , and chair of the SHRM group  that’s working on developing the standard, Laurie Bassi, isn’t swayed by the concern.
“Resistance to this level of transparency is understandable, but it is already happening,” she says. LinkedIn and Glassdoor already serve as a platform for employees to share this kind of information, in a public forum no less. “The question is: Do business leaders want to have influence over the way that conversation evolves, or do they want to leave it to the social networks?” Bassi says.

Whether or not these workforce metrics will be widely adopted, remains to be seen. While it does make sense that this kind of information would be valuable to investors, particularly in the US, with our service based economy, the concerns about it are valid too. Having information on pay, training, and the like, available to the public could go wrong in a lot of ways. Seeing as the official workforce metrics won’t be ready for at least two years, I guess we have some time to consider it.

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