24 metrics your C-suite expects your human resource management software to report on



Read time
13 mins


One of the benefits of human resource management software is the control and visibility it gives over your people data. But among hundreds, if not thousands, of people metrics, what should your HR systems report on? Here are 24 metrics we typically see C-suites asking for most.

Rewind 10 years or so, and many organisations still relied on pen-and-paper or Excel-based systems for managing HR. Slow, clunky and hard-to-access (especially remotely), these approaches left HR with little time for much other than collecting, reconciling, updating, and searching for data.

Today, HR teams can achieve dramatically more with their people data. But ‘can’ and ‘do’ aren’t always the same thing.

Although any HR software is a step-up from these outdated methods, not all human resources management software enables the same level of data mastery. At its best, data is an invaluable strategic asset.

Let’s explore the HR metrics we often see C-suites asking HR teams for – first the fundamentals, then more sophisticated reports that power advanced modelling and forecasting.

12 fundamental metrics that your human resources software should be reporting on

1. Headcount

HR software should make headcount reporting super simple and fast, especially if you’re using cloud-based software that’s easily managed and updated.

Granular, up-to-date headcount data helps the C-suite understand the organisation’s size, growth rate, and capacity to scale. It can also inform decisions around budgeting and resource allocation, which has a major impact on the bottom line.

2. Compliance reporting

HR software should help ensure compliance with employment laws and regulations including GDPR compliance. Your C-suite might want a top-line overview, to sanity-check the organisation is keeping on the right side of the law (avoiding costly penalties and reputation damage).

3. Turnover rate

High staff turnover is expensive and can hurt morale and productivity. HR teams can track their overall turnover rate either month-by-month or annually, which includes all leavers including those who are dismissed, made redundant, or retire.

The C-suite often also wants a separate figure for voluntary turnover, which is typically most disruptive and often indicates troubling disengagement headwinds. Knowing the difference can help inform better planning and pre-empt bigger issues.

Like headcount, this data is most useful when it’s segmented. Human resource management software can typically offer turnover data by department, seniority, and location, giving HR a nuanced idea where to investigate and stem problems.

4. Retention rate

The other side of the turnover coin, the C-suite usually also expects retention rate reporting. Human resource management software should make it easy to show segmented data here so you can spot patterns and trends, and act accordingly.

A good retention rate typically correlates positively to culture and employee engagement and means recruitment and onboarding costs are efficient because you’re not backfilling as many roles. Bear in mind, though, that there will always be a natural turnover of employees, so a turnover rate of 0% is neither desirable nor realistic. Turnover data can help leaders spot any emerging problems and understand whether HR’s initiatives are working.

5. Absence rate

This measures the percentage of employees who are absent from work. It matters to the C-suite because absenteeism is expensive, disruptive, and damages productivity. High absence rate ultimately hurts total workforce efficiency, revenue, and business performance.

Spotting changes (particularly of upwards trends) early can be a crucial early warning sign for attrition or burnout and allow better planning around absences to minimise disruption.

6. Total compensation cost and cost-per-employee

For most organisations, the workforce is your biggest line item so cost reporting here is crucial to understanding organisational performance. The C-suite need to know total compensation costs, which calculates the total direct and indirect costs associated with an employee, like:

  • Salary
  • Overtime
  • Benefits
  • Bonus
  • Commission
  • Incentives
  • Stock options
  • Equity
  • Taxes
  • Training and development investment
  • HR investment
  • Recruitment investment
  • Facilities and equipment costs

Cost-per-employee then divides total compensation costs by the number of employees. This metric helps identify areas of overspending and spot possible efficiencies.

It’s also a good indication of the efficiency of HR operations, helping the C-suite benchmark and track changes.

7. Overtime hours and overtime costs

This is a metric your C-suite is likely to care about because understanding overtime costs is instrumental to understanding routes to growth.

For example: if your business takes on a new client that takes an extra 30 hours per week to service, how much would this cost in overtime?

On a related note, the C-suite will also likely want to know current overtime hours. This shows opportunities for cost efficiencies and also highlights whether the current workforce have capacity to work extra overtime if needed. High volumes of overtime, for sustained periods of time, might be a precursor to rising absence or staff turnover, so keep an eye on this metric.

8. Cost-per-hire

Of all talent acquisition metrics, this is likely the one your C-suite cares most about, because it’s so fundamental to business operations. Taking the example above: how much would it cost to hire a new full-time employee to service the new client, and how does that stack up against overtime costs?

9. Time-to-fill

Another headline recruitment metric that matters to top-level strategic business decision-making, time-to-fill indicates how long it’ll take to grow the workforce.

If the organisation is about to win a new contract that requires staffing, when do we need to go to market? How much will overtime cost us before we ramp to full capacity?

At the more sophisticated level, HR data management software might also break down time-to-fill by role, level, and internal versus external hiring. Armed with insights like these, leaders could decide to prioritise building an internal management training programme, say, over hiring external management talent.

10. HR operating costs and HR cost-per-employee

As much as C-suite leaders need to understand the workforce, they also need to understand the people who manage the workforce. The most common metrics the C-suite usually expect human resource management software to report are total HR operating costs and HR cost-per-employee.

These metrics showcase HR’s efficiency, allow benchmarking, and empower tracking over time to spot changes that need attention. They’re also a powerful way to prove HR’s value to the business and earn credibility.

11. Workforce representation

As equality and diversity in the workplace and inclusion continue to be big priorities, the C-suite will typically expect HR to showcase metrics around diversity reporting.

Look for human resource management software that shows workforce composition by characteristics like gender, age, and ethnicity, at least. Many HR systems also allow you to report on a broader range of metrics than this, provided you’ve collected that data – like education background, for example.


12. Training uptake and engagement

Effective L&D programmes are well-known to increase productivity, so it’s little wonder the C-suite cares about training.

A fundamental metric is often training uptake, which shows whether employees are completing courses. This has an implication for compliance, and there’s an assumption that greater training uptake translates into better skilled, more engaged employees.

Depending on whether your human resource management software has integrated LMS functionality, the C-suite could also expect reports on learner engagement.


12 more sophisticated metrics your human resources software system might report on

The metrics we’ve just covered are some fundamental metrics most C-suites expect their HR teams to have a grasp on – but there’s a mountain of important data beyond this that can improve forecasting, modelling, and decision-making.

1. Workforce productivity

Productivity is fundamental to business growth so this is usually a big priority, but productivity can be complex to measure. How do you quantify a productive developer versus a productive content manager, for example?

Depending on its sophistication and on your organisation’s setup, human resource management software might measure productivity various ways, like:

  • Performance metrics like project completion or sales figures
  • Customer satisfaction ratings
  • Attendance rates
  • Time-tracking
  • Training and development completion

Good HR software can help with this process, either through core reporting functionality or through robust third-party integrations.

2. New hire failure rate

Up to 20% of new hires leave within their first 45-days, and a third leave within six months. This can be enormously costly and disruptive, and a major drain on productivity and performance.

In other words, new hire failure rate is an extremely useful metric for the C-suite (and HR). Human resource management software can typically report on this through core functionality, integrated employee onboarding software, or via third-party integrations to the onboarding software you already use.

3. Time-to-productivity

If your HR software has good reporting functionality, you should be able to easily report on time-to-productivity. This is an invaluable metric because it contributes to employee lifetime value, helps ensure new starters add value faster, and allows more accurate performance projections and headcount planning.

4. Cost of turnover

This metric goes a step further than looking at turnover, to quantify the issue in financial terms. This helps HR galvanise executive buy-in for initiatives to reduce turnover and improve the employee experience.

Turnover costs are complicated to calculate, though, because they draw on data that’s normally housed in different systems (such as recruitment, onboarding and performance management software).

Choosing integrated human resources management software means you can connect all these people-related systems into a single source of data, to make complex calculations like this easier and less manual.

5. Granular diversity and inclusion reporting

Workforce representation is fundamental but good human resource management software can also report on diversity and inclusion in more depth.

For instance, that could mean tracking the representation of different groups at various seniority levels, understanding employee perceptions around inclusion, and tracking your gender pay gap at different levels and across departments.

Many organisations find this intimidating but the right HR software makes gender pay gap reporting simple.

6. People function effectiveness

As HR reporting gets more sophisticated, C-suite leaders typically see more value from ‘how effective is it?’ reports than just ‘how much does it cost?’ reports. These tend to be more sophisticated calculations combining and comparing data sets.

For instance, your human resource management software might empower you to calculate recruitment return on investment (ROI), by calculating employee lifetime value divided by total hiring and retention costs per employee.

The C-suite will likely care most about key ROI metrics, like:

  • Recruitment ROI
  • L&D ROI
  • HR ROI
  • Payroll ROI
  • Onboarding ROI

7. Ratio of high-performing employees

This shows leaders what proportion of the workforce are classified as high performers, contributing most to the organisation’s performance. A high ratio of top performers speaks to great end-to-end people functions, building a workforce that can deliver excellent results.

Understanding this helps leaders identify whether the organisation has the capabilities to grow, innovate, or pivot into different areas.

8. Revenue-per-employee

This divides revenue by number of employees to show how much revenue each employee generates. This gives the C-suite insight into the organisation’s revenue-generating potential to support growth planning. If we added 10% more headcount, for example, how much revenue would that contribute?

This information can inform more accurate resource allocation, performance evaluation, budget planning, forecasting, and competitor benchmarking. For example, if your commercial partnership team has a lower than average revenue-per-employee, you might re-evaluate how resources are allocated to support this team.

9. Workforce efficiency

A common counterpart to revenue-per-employee, workforce efficiency also evaluates the organisation’s productivity but considers output versus input. That is, it looks at how efficiently employees produce quality work given the resources available.

Depending how work happens across your organisation, a workforce efficiency calculation might consider various data points, like:

  • Performance ratings
  • Output per employee
  • Time to completion
  • Cost per work unit
  • Capacity utilisation
  • Quality of work
  • Cycle time
  • Cost-per-employee
  • Time and attendance
  • Workforce productivity

10. Employee lifetime value

Employee lifetime value, or ELV, measures employees’ long-term contribution to the organisation. This helps C-suite leaders understand the value of each employee, which can inform employee development, talent management, retention, and succession planning.

For example, you could improve ELV by decreasing time-to-productivity, so new hires add more value faster. Or you could improve ELV by improving retention, so employees add value for longer.

The basic calculation is total annual revenue divided by employees, multiplied by average tenure. But, with more data, you can incorporate multi-faceted and segmented data points to improve accuracy and fuel better decisions (like calculating a more accurate ELV for senior sales reps versus junior data entry clerks, for example).

11. Employee engagement and eNPS

Employee engagement has been decisively connected to a whole array of positive HR and organisation outcomes. In particular, organisations with more engaged employees are 23% more profitable than their peers. For most C-suite execs, this makes engagement and the employee net promoter score (eNPS) an important priority.

Look for human resource management software that can track employee engagement or can integrate seamlessly to third-party engagement tools.

12. Succession planning reporting

With the right HR software, you can conduct sophisticated future-facing planning and analysis, to help the organisation build future readiness. Succession planning metrics are often a holy grail for HR and business leaders because of the strategic importance of having the right senior leadership.

Typically succession planning reporting will include metrics like:

  • Bench strength
  • Succession readiness
  • Employee career progression rate
  • Promotions per year
  • Time-to-promotion
  • Internal hiring for senior positions rate
  • Time-to-fill critical roles
  • Leadership development ROI

Become a true partner to the C-suite with Ciphr 

Armed with better data, HR can deliver more value to the C-suite as a strategic business advisor and true partner. The right human resource management software should be a platform for HR to step into this role with confidence.

How does your HR software stack up? If you’re thinking about your current HR system’s data capabilities, we’d love to chat. Download our brochure to learn what Ciphr brings to the table. Or book a demo to see our tech in action.