What do potential candidates think about your company? How would they describe your recruiting process? Their initial training? How much do incumbents value your efforts to help them get better? What can you do to make sure all that experience stays in the fold when someone decides to leave? And how fondly do they remember their time with you? Now the big question: Who cares? Would knowing the answers get you any closer to the pot of gold at the end your strategic plan?

Apparently so, according to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. In the study, researchers found “generalizable relationships large enough to have substantial practical value.” That technical mouthful means that being deliberate about seeing things from a worker’s perspective and adjusting accordingly can payoff big time!

The HR function wrestles with these issues as it works to anticipate gaps and align your people with the organization’s direction. But how do we know it’s working? In the words of Peter Drucker, “What gets measured gets managed.” You wouldn’t think that measuring the effectiveness of HR would be that controversial until you try to do it. Don’t get me wrong; there are PLENTY of HR metrics out there. The trick is landing on a few (and I mean five or less) that have a strong correlation to the organization’s predetermined outcomes. And, just like strategic goals, the “right” HR metrics shift to make sure efforts are perpetually in sync.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll cover some basics and the thinking behind different measurement categories. There is no one “right mix” but when all is said and done, you should be able to draw a line between a handful of HR metrics and the bottom line. Stay tuned…