It’s All About the Numbers

How can you prove that spending money on HR or OD initiatives is worth it? Well, I don’t have all the answers to this question (sorry!), but it’s one of the biggest topics on my mind right now. It is easy enough to spout the benefits: increased engagement, employee morale boost, employees will be more productive/innovative/motivated/insert desired quality here. However, the ongoing challenge is to effectively measure these benefits in quantifiable, and more importantly, monetary terms.

In some cases, when people ask for money in an organization, they have a pretty clear cost/benefit; if I buy this machine, it will produce X widgets over Y days, which is an improvement over our current process by X widgets, thus resulting in a cost savings of $X over Y years. A simplified example, of course, but in some cases it can be this simple. Now, introduce people and other uncertain variables into the mix, and suddenly things are much more complex. Couple this with the stereotype that “HR people don’t like numbers” and you’re a step behind from the get go. However, as literature has spouted over the last few years, this is by no means a reason not to try.

So why? It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to create effective metrics, not to mention when you are dealing with a variable as complex as people. My personal belief is that 1) the language being used in strategic decisions is related to metrics – return on investment, growth potential, cost savings, etc – and 2) how can you really know that it’s working if you don’t measure it?

This topic is something that I work on answering almost every day in the work that I am currently doing, through research, and through training courses designed to get me thinking differently about evaluation. My hope is that the insights I come across, or tips, or ideas, or failures for that matter, will be of interest to the greater HR community here in BC and can help us collectively bring this data to the decision-making table while improving our own knowledge of the work we do. Stay tuned and please share you insights with me!

Krysty Wideen is a learning and organizational development consultant with The Refinery Leadership Partners, based in Vancouver. Her professional interest and expertise is in emotional intelligence, type psychology (MBTI), conflict, team dynamics, learning design, and program evaluation. An emerging practitioner in her field, Krysty is actively seeking new information, ideas, insights, and experiences and loves to share them with the online community through the BC HRMA and Refinery Leadership Partners Blogs.

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  1. I’m in New York this week taking a course called “Measuring and Evaluating Learning”. I can’t wait to get started (which is probably why I am up early even though I’m in the Eastern timezone!). More to come on this!

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