The HR Game Changer Blog

Have we been measuring engagement levels of COMPLETELY the wrong thing?

Ever since I got my first HR role 17 years ago, I saw the issues around how we measure the return on investment of the HR team for the company. CEO’s would suggest:

  • We’ll measure you on improving the company engagement scores. Problem: it’s managers that have the impact on that with their teams. It’s only very partially in HR’s control even if our advice and support to managers is the best there is.
  • That no employee’s take a PG. Again, we can give managers the best advice and even if the process is followed and the employee treated fairly, they still have the right to take a grievance.
  • That turnover is reduced. Again it’s managers who impact most on employee’s lives.
  • Recruitment time or cost is reduced. HR does have some control over this but as managers have to complete some of this process, it’s also not fully in our control.

Over 17 years I have had this debate with hundreds (possibly thousands) of HR people from GM HR’s down to HR Assistants. How can we measure what HR delivers?

This morning I had a revelation (personally I’m loving daylight savings. I wake up at a normal time and actually it’s blazingly early, currently 5.45am as I write this, and with this extra time, I’m getting through extra work and having inspiration).

My revelation was:


We understand that employees who feel engaged:

  • Want to stay with the organisation longer
  • Say great things about working for the organisation
  • Strive to go above and beyond what’s required in their role.

Imagine if the people managers in our business:

  • Want to work proactively with the HR team (like, gasp, HR are their business partners!)
  • Say great things about HR and about managing people
  • Strive to use HR processes to engage and motivate their team

Why aren’t we measuring how engaged managers are with HR?

Through my career I have talked to managers and asked them anecdotally what they would like from my HR team. What improvements could we make in what we deliver? What ideas do they have? But I’ve never done this systematically with them all. And used proper engagement questions to see how engaged they are.

If your management team show 80% engagement in HR – using the processes, saying great things to their teams, working with us proactively – I firmly believe that their teams would then be more engaged.

Why wouldn’t we do this?

It could be really uncomfortable for us. What if there are managers who are disengaged with us? What if it really is our fault that we’re making our HR processes create so much friction managers are going crazy. Suddenly it is clear that it’s our fault – we can’t say it’s outside of our control.

Why would we do this?

If we want our CEO’s and senior leaders to see that HR is the future of the business, we have to show them that if managers believe in and work with HR (they’re engaged) then it will flow on to engagement of the company, better productivity, culture, results etc.

BESIDES WHICH, if we focus on our CEO’s and senior leaders also being highly engaged in HR – I think suddenly there will be no more debate about what HR does. The game will have changed.

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This entry was posted on May 27, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .


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