Some of you may be aware that there's a big SHRM initiative underway to standardize different HR and Human Capital metrics across all companies. On the surface, it's a noble cause. Here's the feel good description of what's going on from from BusinessWeek:
"A group of 600 HR managers, academics, and advisers are drafting guidelines for standardizing measures of workforce diversity, turnover, job training, and the like. They are also drawing up a template for how companies should report such information to shareholders. Those involved in the project argue that companies and investors would benefit if a single set of metrics were used to gauge what they call “human capital.”
“In the financial-services sector, my supply chain is human capital—it’s relationships, it’s ideas,” says Erika Karp, head of Global Sector Research at UBS Investment Bank, who has been involved in devising the standards. A stockpicker choosing between two banks should favor the one that spends more money training and rewarding its employees, thereby lowering turnover, which is costly, Karp says. Investors will also gravitate to companies with a deep leadership bench. With the metrics, “you have more transparency on factors that result in better profitability,” she says. “It’s what a reasonable investor would want to know.”
Of course, no good deed goes unpunished. By creating a platform that threatens to standardize, and therefore require, the collection of data and reporting of metrics along the lines of financial metrics to Walll Street, there's the predictable "give me freedom or give me death" call related to an implied threat that these metrics could be included in future regulatory burdens. More from Business Week:
"The project, which is being spearheaded by the 250,000-member Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), has drawn fire from the HR Policy Association (HRPA), a lobbying group whose members include the top HR officers at more than 300 of the largest companies in the U.S. HRPA says the reporting standards would place an unnecessary burden on public companies, which are already shouldering a mountain of paperwork under Sarbanes-Oxley. Information on how much time and money companies spend on training and what kinds of workers they are hiring would be less valuable to investors than to rivals, HRPA representatives say. “These are all things the competition would love to know,” says Tim Bartl, a senior official. While most companies would agree they need to have a succession plan, a requirement to name candidates for the top job would irk some, says Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School. “In a lot of firms that particular question isn’t even known to the participants.”
I like the cause/drive to standardize, but I'm not sure I want SHRM to be the ones to blaze the path. Still, it's easy to bitch and moan that we need better metrics and then be against this type of movement. Seems like folks like me should either get involved and help determine the solution or stop complaining like the HRPA is doing. Of course, no one told me that there was a viable threat of this creating an involuntary reporting burden, with that reporting potentially being reported across public companies? Check please - I'll pass if that's the case.
Lies, damn lies and statistics. Applause to SHRM for trying to bring us all to one language. A wagging finger to the same organization if the plan was ever to mandate the reporting standards to public companies. Metrics like turnover numbers and the like mean nothing without industry, geographical and workforce context.