HR KPIs in Education – A review and oversight

Whilst KPIs are common in every business, Human Resources key performance indicators (HR KPIs) are metrics specifically used to measure how HR is aiding and contributing to the success of a school or multi-academy trust (MAT).
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As we know KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. These are measurements of progress and have become more important to HR leaders in educational establishments as HR functions have become internal and taken on more of a strategic role.

Whilst KPIs are common in every business, Human Resources key performance indicators (HR KPIs) are metrics specifically used to measure how HR is aiding and contributing to the success of a school or multi-academy trust (MAT).

In order to be successful, HR managers need to use HR KPIs that reflect the larger goals of the department, key stage or school. Further, they must be:

  • Concrete: The KPI should be tangible and it should have a specific goal.
  • Measurable: If you cannot measure the KPI, it isn’t a KPI.
  • Reachable: Don’t limit your success by defining a KPI that will not be attainable.
  • Relevant: Monitor only the things that really matter – don’t waste time with indicators that do not contribute anything to your company.

Choosing the right KPIs to track is a crucial decision that requires careful and strategic thinking. Otherwise, you risk wasting precious time and resources on collating information that is not useful, resulting in little change or progress for your school. 

Understanding which KPIs your school uses and the reporting timelines is fundamental for gaining stakeholder buy-in and understanding; whether it’s from employees, middle managers, leadership, or governors/trustees. With this in mind, it may be useful to reflect on which data you share with each stakeholder group, depending on their particular needs and interests.

When it comes to tracking HR KPIs, dashboards are very useful. Dashboards provide clear, intuitive representations of complex data, saving you from the prospect of drowning in spreadsheets. With this data visualisation tool, you can instantly spot trends, patterns, and areas in need of attention. Dashboards also support dynamic tracking with real-time monitoring, allowing you to keep an eye on targets, spot issues, and take timely actions. Additionally, dashboards can help you to communicate HR KPI data during meetings. This ready and easy access to information can help you to engage stakeholders in discussions, align your goals, and effectively drive changed based on data-driven insights.

According to Wayne Eckerson in his book,  Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business, a KPI should also drive behaviours that are consistent with the objectives and strategy of the organisation. Eckerson describes a number of characteristics of “good” KPIs.

  • Sparse: You should only focus on a few HR KPIs. They are called key performance indicators for a reason. Focus on the essential ones and leave the rest out. The general rule remains: the fewer, the better.
  • Drillable: You should be able to drill into detail. Why aren’t we meeting our recruitment cost target? What groups are the costliest to recruit? By drilling down, you can more easily predict your future success and see where progress is lacking.
  • Simple: Users need to understand the KPI. If it’s not simple, it’s hard to communicate and focus on.
  • Actionable: The reason why HR only focuses on KPIs related to HR outcomes is that they can influence these. HR is not responsible for other areas such as grade outcomes. Only focus on the KPIs which outcomes you can affect.
  • Owned: In line with the previous points, KPIs need to have an owner. This owner will be rewarded in case of success and will be held responsible if they fail to hit the target. The owner of an HR KPI is likely to be a senior member of the management team, such as the HR Director or Manager. 
  • Correlated: The KPI should be related to the desired outcome. When we speak about targets, the HR KPIs need to be related to these outcomes. Reducing costs on CPD won’t help with retention and succession planning. 
  • Aligned:  KPIs shouldn’t undermine each other.

One important thing to remember is to keep things in perspective. You don’t want to get caught up in the panic of outlier numbers. One person quitting in a department of five people looks like a 20% turnover. However, if that was the only person to quit in the last five years, you have no need to panic.

If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at this list of example KPIs you can put on your HR dashboard:

  • Absence rate: The absenteeism rate is usually calculated by dividing the number of working days in which the employee was absent by their total number of working days. You could drill down even further regarding whether it is short or long-term absence, and/or cost of the absence i.e. supply. 
  • Employee satisfaction : Employee satisfaction is measured via employee attitude and engagement surveys. Dissatisfaction is a common cause of employee turnover.
  • Internal promotion rate: This KPI is measured by dividing the number of senior functions that were filled through internal promotion by the total number of senior positions filled. Internal hires are often up to speed faster, reduce the risk of a bad hire, and stay longer in the role.
  • Turnover rate: Turnover is a very common metric and also an important KPI, as high turnover can be very costly.

    – This could be drilled down by comparing involuntary turnover rate: Not all turnover is voluntary. This is the number of employer-led resignations as a percentage of the total resignations.

    – Voluntary turnover rate: This is the number of employee-led resignations as a percentage of the total resignations.

    – Unwanted turnover rate: Not all turnover is bad. It’s usually positive when bad performers leave. This is the number of good performers leaving as a percentage of all performers.
  • CPD: Training has to be effective to reach its goals. This should reflect on the job training (mentoring and coaching) along with internal training and then external training too. 
  • Equality and Diversity (DEI&B): It’s no secret that diverse teams work better. They’re a must-have—but they don’t build themselves. HR professionals are familiar with the term  DE&I  for diversity, equity, and inclusion. But the “b” for belonging should also be considered because it takes more than diversity, equity, and inclusion for people to do their best work. They must feel they are an integral part of the organisation, where they are seen, heard, and valued which links back with employee satisfaction. 
  • Employee Relations: This relates to the casework the HR team is responsible for, such as number of disciplinaries, grievances, capabilities, etc. and the number of Employment Tribunal Claims.

Bear in mind, there is no single set of metrics that fits every school and trust. Instead, it’s best to consider the metrics that align with your unique vision, standards, and goals so that you can measure what really matters for your setting.

As HR continues to play an increasingly strategic role in schools, HR KPIs are an essential tool to provide in-depth insights and data-driven analysis to inform and guide you throughout the decision-making process.

For further advice on how to measure performance and drive positive change within your organisation, register to the HR Circle and join a community of like-minded HR leaders in education.

Want to find out more? Get in touch today.

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