HR Metrics
Absence Rate [(# days absent in month)
(Ave. # of employees during mo.) x (# of workdays)]
x 100
Measures absenteeism. See BNA Job Absence Report for benchmark and survey data. Determine if your company has an absenteeism problem. Analyze why and how to address issue. Analyze further for effectiveness of attendance policy and effectiveness of management in applying policy. See white paper entitled #P-4_0" target="_blank">Absenteeism: Analyzing Work Absences .
Cost per Hire (Advertising + Agency Fees + Employee Referrals + Travel cost of applicants and staff + Relocation costs + Recruiter pay and benefits)
Number of Hires
Costs involved with a new hire. Use EMA/Cost per Hire Staffing Metrics Survey as a benchmark for your organization. Can be used as a measurement to show any substantial improvements to savings in recruitment/retention costs. Determine what your recruiting function can do to increase savings/reduce costs, etc.
Health Care Costs per Employee Total cost of health care
Total Employees
Per capita cost of employee benefits. Indicates cost of health care per employee. Click here for benefit data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). See BLS's publications entitled Employer Costs for Employee Compensation and Measuring trends in the structure and levels of employer costs for employee compensation for additional information on this topic.
HR expense factor HR expense
Total operating expense
HR expenses in relation to the total operating expenses of organization. In addition, determine if expenditures exceeded, met or fell below budget. Analyze HR practices that contributed to savings, if any. See BNA 2004 HR Department Benchmarks and Analysis
Human Capital ROI Revenue - (Operating Expense - [Compensation cost + Benefit cost])
(Compensation cost + Benefit cost)
Return on investment ratio for employees. Did organization get a return on their investment? Analyze causes of positive/negative ROI metric. Use analysis as opportunity to optimize investment with HR practices such as recruitment, motivation, training and development. Evaluate if HR practices are having a causal relationship in positive changes to improving metric.
Human Capital Value Added Revenue - (Operating Expense - [Compensation cost + Benefit Cost])
Total Number of FTE
Value of workforce's knowledge, skill, and performance. This measurement illustrates how employees add value to organization.
Prorating Merit Increases Number of months actually worked
number of months under the current increase policy
increase percentage the person would otherwise be entitled to
The basic steps to calculating an employees’ pay increase appropriate to the period of time worked.
Revenue Factor Revenue
Total Number of FTE
Benchmark to indicate effectiveness of company and to show employees as capital rather than as an expense. Human Capital can be viewed as an investment.
Time to fill Total days elapsed to fill requisitions
Number hired
Number of days from which job requisition was approved to new hire start date. How efficient/productive is recruiting function? This is also a process measurement. See EMA/Cost per Hire Staffing Metrics Survey for more information.
Training Investment Factor Total training cost
Training cost per employee. Analyze training function further for effectiveness of training (i.e. Has productivity increased as a result of acquiring new skills and knowledge? Have accidents decreased?). If not, evaluate causes.
Turnover Costs Total of the costs of separation + vacancy + replacement + training The separation, vacancy, replacement and training costs resulting from employee turnover. This formula can be used to calculate the turnover cost for one position, a class code, a division or the entire organization. Exit interviews are a useful tool in determining why employees are leaving your organization (see white paper Employee Turnover Hurts Small And Large Company Profitability for more information on this topic). Implement retention efforts. Evaluate if HR practices are having a causal relationship in positive changes to improving cost of turnover.
Turnover Rate [# of separations during mo.
Ave. # of employees during mo.]

x 100
Calculate and compare metric to national average using Bureau of National Affairs BNA Turnover Report or www.bls.gov/jlt/home.htm. This measures the rate for which employees leave a company. Is there a trend? Has metric increased/decreased? Analyze what has caused increase/decrease to metric. Determine what organization can do to improve retention efforts. Evaluate if HR practices has a causal relationship in positive changes to improving metric (See white paper entitled #P-4_0" target="_blank">Employee Turnover: Analyzing Employee Movement Out of the Organization).
Vacancy Costs Total of the costs of temporary workers + independent contractors + other outsourcing + overtime - wages and benefits not paid to vacant position(s) The cost for having work completed that would have been performed by the former employee or employees less the wages and benefits that would have been paid to the vacant position(s). This formula may be used to calculate the vacancy cost for one position, a group, a division or the entire organization.
Vacancy Rate Total number of Vacant positions as of today
Total number of positions as of today
x 100
Measures the organizations vacancy rates resulting from employee turnover. This formula can be used to calculate the vacancy rate for one position, a class code, a division or the entire organization
Workers' Compensation Cost per Employee Total WC cost for Year
Average number of employees
Analyze and compare (i.e. year 1 to year 2, etc.) on a regular basis. You can also analyze workers compensation further to determine trends in types of injuries, injuries by department, jobs, etc. HR practices such as safety training, #P-4_0" target="_blank">disability management, and incentives can reduce costs. Use metric as benchmark to show causal relationship between HR practices and reduced workers compensation accidents/costs.
Workers' Compensation Incident rate (Number of injuries and/or illnesses per 100 FTE ∕ Total hours worked by all employees during the calendar year)
The “incident rate” is the number of injuries and/or illnesses per 100 full-time workers. 200,000 is the base for 100 full-time equivalent workers (working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year.)
The calculated rate can be modified depending on the nature of the injuries and/or illnesses. For example, if you wished to determine the lost workday case rate, you would include only the cases that involved days away from work.
Workers' Compensation Severity rate (The number of days away from work per 100 FTE∕ Total hours worked by all employees during the calendar year)
The “severity rate” is the number of days away from work per 100 FTE. To calculate the severity rate, replace the number of injuries and/or illnesses per 100 FTE from the incident rate calculation with the number of days away from work per 100 FTE.
More information is available regarding the types of injuries, incident rates, and comparison to other SIC codes are available at the following website: #incidence" target="_blank">#incidence" target="_blank">http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshdef.htm#incidence

• Compare your metrics against other organization's metric, survey data, etc. to evaluate your performance. Metrics can show the benefit of your HR practices and it's contribution to your organization's profit.
• Benchmark data and designate time frame (plan year, fiscal year, etc.). Compare data going forward using same time frame (year 1, year 2, year 3, etc.) to show improvement/decline.


Turnover and attrition of online faculty and adjunct faculty is a reality. While there are no reported national statistics or data on annual turnover/attrition for online faculty/adjunct, the overall costs of recruiting, training, and replacing faculty/adjunct can be staggering. Moreover, the short and long term effects of online faculty/adjunct who are not properly trained through recruitment and retention plans can result in faculty/adjunct attrition, student attrition, low graduation rates, legal action, and negatively affect the reputation of an institution. Therefore, online programs administrators must be cognizant of “costs” associated with faculty/adjunct turnover/attrition and understand the inherent importance of recruitment, retention and incentive plans related to program sustainability.

Online education is one of the fastest growing enterprises in the United States. Statistics reveal that in 2006 there were 3.5 million students enrolled in online courses. This represents a 10 percent increase from 2005 (Sloan, 2007). Online enrollment is not slowing down nor has it reached a plateau. With the proliferation of new online degrees and certificate programs, online enrollment is on the rise. According to the Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning 69 percent of academic leaders “believe that student demand for online education is still growing” (Sloan, 2007).
While an increasing number of for-profit and non-profit institutions vie for their share of this growing multi-billion dollar-a-year industry, it is critical that institutional leaders strategically develop recruitment, retention and incentive plans for online faculty and adjuncts. Moreover, administrators must proactively prepare for national and global economic shifts by building a dedicated team of online faculty and adjuncts who can fully adapt to changing market conditions and fluxuations in institutional enrollment. Direct, opportunity, and indirect costs can negatively affect the financial bottom line and sustainability of online programs – and can devastate fledging programs.
Literature on financial costs relating to attrition often focuses on employees within corporations (Cork, 2008; Dooney, 2005; Rodgers, 2002) and not higher education. Moreover, the financial costs associated with employee attrition are often described in general terms and do not provide specific line item costs that are critical to annual budgets. While there is more extensive literature on reasons as to why faculty/adjunct leave higher education (Nagowksi, 2006; Amey, 1996), the line item costs related to turnover/attrition are not readily available.
The costs related to turnover/attrition of online faculty/adjunct should be based on predetermined metrics related to costs established by an institution. These metrics provide the necessary integers to calculate the overall cost of turnover/attrition based on three categories typically associated with employee turnover/attrition: 1) direct costs, 2) opportunity costs, and 3) indirect costs (Rodgers, 2005; Dooney, 2002). However, some of the costs may not apply across all online programs.
The line items listed under direct, opportunity, and indirect costs are extensive. However, each line item represents a cost for an online program. Therefore, online program administrators need to fully understand the overall costs of online faculty/adjunct turnover/attrition.
Direct Costs

Direct costs refer to fixed and variable costs related to hiring, salary/benefits, training, and support. These costs are essential for the recruitment and retention of employees. Conversely, direct costs also include separation costs related to attrition/turnover. Direct costs include, but are not limited to:

  1. Recruitment
    1. Marketing (ad placement online, newspapers, journals, radio, television, etc.)
    2. Recruitment/Search agencies
      1. Fees for identifying potential candidates with specialized skill sets
      2. Percentage of the employee’s annual salary as a fee
      3. Faculty incentives for finding qualified faculty/adjuncts to teach in areas of areas specialization

  2. Application Process
  3. Time (staff or temp agency to assist with application process)
    1. Filing applications with resumes/cover letters (paper and electronic)
    2. Identifying final candidate pool to interview from list of applicants
    3. Corresponding with applicants and search committees (email/phone/fax/in person)
    4. Reference checks

  4. Interview process
  5. Onsite visit/s (travel accommodations, etc.)
  6. Virtual interview/s (teleconferences, video conferences, etc.)
  7. Time (staff or temp agency to assist with hiring process)
    1. Processing internal paperwork
    2. Correspondence (email/phone/fax/in person)

  8. Salary and benefits package (discussions, negotiation)
  9. Financial incentives for teaching maximum/overload student enrollments
  10. Relocation costs, may include spouse job search assistance within the community
  11. Background checks and pre-employment drug testing (if applicable)
  12. Cost of orientation (institutional orientation through Human Resources and possible additional orientation session/s provided by a division, school/college, and/or program)
  13. Cost of training (institutional and programmatic training - knowledge and skills required for position such as software, hardware, web, pedagogy, evaluation, etc.)
  14. Cost of travel for orientation and/or training
  15. Time off task
    1. Time away from job for orientation/s (introductory workshops/sessions about institution/division/school/college/program on policies, regulations, etc.)
    2. Time away from job for training (introductory workshops/sessions about required software, hardware, web, pedagogy, evaluation, etc.)
    3. Learning curve (even after training has been completed, on-the-job training effectively continues until the new faculty/adjunct fully masters how to apply necessary skills and knowledge to the position)
    4. Decreased office productivity until mastery of new position

  16. Mentoring/coaching
    1. Time that faculty/adjunct spend mentoring new hires
    2. Time that new hires spend being mentored/coached by faculty/adjunct

  17. Faculty Development
  18. On campus
  19. Off campus
    • Travel, lodging, meals
    • Technical costs (e.g., Internet, cell/phone, camera/video)
    • Time away from office/institution

  20. Online
  21. Computer
  22. Software
  23. Internet
  24. Telephone/cell phone/iPhone/iPod
  25. Course management systems (i.e., Blackboard, Vista, WebCT, Angel, EduTool, etc.)
  26. Learning management systems (i.e., Sakai, Moodle, Saba, SumTotal, etc.)
  27. Technology support and training
  28. Severance pay
    1. A lump sum or continuation of pay for a specified period of time

  29. Benefits
  30. May continue benefits for a specified period of time or until the individual attain another job
  31. Rates may increase since institutions/organizations/companies are penalized with a higher tax if there are high percentages of former employees drawing benefits from the unemployment insurance fund
  32. Time spent speaking with program director, administrators, and/or staff by phone, email, or in person to finalize internal paperwork
  33. Time spent collecting quantitative and/or qualitative data related to faculty/adjunct attrition (i.e., exit surveys, exit interviews, etc.)
  34. Assistance from HR in finding a new position for the faculty/adjunct
  35. Costs associated with an executive search firm or headhunter
  36. Potential that dismissed faculty/adjuncts may elect to file a grievance against the institution
  37. Potential that students who withdraw from the institution based on a negative experience with an online program or faculty/adjunct may file a grievance against the institution
  38. Unemployment insurance rates
  39. Advising
  40. Exit interview
  41. Outplacement
  42. Legal action by faculty/adjunct or student
  43. Advising
    1. Students with a negative faculty/adjunct experience may leave under negative auspices or seek extensive academic counseling from advisors and/or program directors as to stay in the program or leave

  44. Exit Interview
  45. Time spent collecting quantitative and/or qualitative data related to student attrition (i.e., exit surveys, exit interviews, etc.)
  46. Assistance from academic advisors and/or faculty to assist students enroll/transition to another program within the institution or at a competing institution.
  47. Potential that students who withdraw from online courses or programs due to negative experience/s linked to faculty/adjunct turnover/attrition may elect to file a grievance against the institution.
  48. Program Transition
  49. Legal action by students
  50. Faculty/adjuncts teach additional courses to replace faculty/adjunct
  51. Staff/advisors work additional hours to meet program/operating goals
  52. Program Directors work additional hours to meet program/operating goals
  53. Hiring
  54. Orientation and Training
  55. Professional Development and Ongoing Support
  56. Separation Costs (for faculty/adjunct who decide to leave the institution, if applicable)
  57. Separation Costs (related to students who leave the institution as a result of faculty/adjunct turnover)
  58. Overtime

Opportunity Costs

Opportunity costs refer to loss of business and loss of students resulting from diminished resources and/or decreased service quality due to faculty/adjunct turnover/attrition. Opportunity costs are more difficult to quantify than direct costs since inference is required to calculate these costs. Opportunity costs include, but are not limited to:

  1. Loss of business
    1. Failure to start a new cohort for a semester/quarter due to faculty/adjunct turnover/attrition
    2. Failure to offer a new or specialized course/s
    3. Limiting course offerings due to faculty/adjunct turnover/attrition
    4. New/fledgling programs not meeting baseline operating costs
    5. Loss of established market sector to competitors due to decreasing value of degree

  2. Loss of students
  3. Loss of current students to competitors
  4. Loss of potential students to competitors
  5. Loss of potential business/educational partnerships
  6. Faculty/adjunct defect to competitors due to faculty/adjunct turnover
  7. Ripple effect in which staff, administrators, managers, and academic advising personnel begin to defect to competitors as faculty/adjuncts leave
  8. Potential faculty/adjunct do not apply for vacant positions due to poor/declining program reputation
  9. Decrease in student enrollment
  10. Decrease in recruitment
    1. Student
    2. Faculty/adjunct
    3. Staff

  11. Decrease in research, publishing, presenting
  12. Possible loss accreditation or probation
  13. Decrease in sense of community
  14. Decrease in donations, contributions, and partnerships
  15. Loss of faculty/adjuncts
  16. Loss of Reputation

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs are the most difficult to quantify since these costs relate to productivity, morale, and ultimately the climate of the workplace. While these costs are challenging to calculate, they are important to examine since they can have short- and long-term repercussions on an online program. Indirect costs include, but are not limited to:

  1. Productivity
    1. Loss of intellectual capital (knowledge, experience, and contacts)
    2. Lower staff productivity due to taking on additional responsibilities and burnout
    3. Reduced productivity of Program Director due to taking on additional responsibilities, recruiting new hires, and working with new hires
    4. Inability to design new courses, concentrations, etc. due to limited staffing
    5. Inability to secure grants or funding due to limited staffing
    6. Inability for faculty/adjuncts to present at conferences due to limited staffing as part of marketing/outreach
    7. Inability of faculty/adjuncts to publish due to limited staffing as part of marketing/outreach
    8. Cost of completion or delivery of critical project/grant where the faculty/adjunct who left was a key participant
    9. Cost and productivity of new hires
      1. Productivity of new hires is not as high early on as they learn policies, procedures and assume full responsibilities
      2. Mistakes by new hires during indoctrination period can be costly
      3. Program Directors time developing trust and building confidence in new faculty/adjunct
      4. Staff time in assisting new faculty/adjuncts “get up to speed”

  2. Morale
  3. Negative climate that reduces productivity
  4. Decreased sense of professional value
  5. Low faculty/adjunct motivation
  6. Low student motivation

The overall costs related to the recruitment and attrition of online faculty/adjuncts is extensive. While the payment for teaching one online course can range from $2,000 to $5,000 or higher, the financial bottom line associated with faculty/adjuncts can be ten times the amount or greater than the actual payment when calculating direct, opportunity and indirect costs.

As institutions continue to expand their online course offerings, it is strongly encouraged that metrics and costs be established early on as well as monitored through a balanced scorecard. Furthermore, strategic recruitment and retention plans need to be developed to optimize meeting program goals and operating budgets. Strategies that increase faculty retention may include: financial incentives for teaching on line classes, new pedagogical teaching styles, robust faculty mentoring or coaching programs, establishing ‘communities of practice’ for faculty, and conducting live learning laboratories and think tanks for course collaboration. Additional strategies may include: providing increased technical support systems, developing university policy and procedures that directly address online courses, and defining standard benchmarks for quality online teaching. In addition to these retention strategies, a complete set of metrics or a dashboard should be developed to monitor faculty and student retention and attrition. Personal exit interviews need to be conducted with terminating faculty and students to find out why they left the program.

Online education enrollment is projected to increase (Sloan, 2007). Therefore, online programs administrators must be cognizant of “costs” associated with faculty/adjunct turnover/attrition and understand the inherent importance of recruitment, retention, and incentive plans. Data collection through defined metrics and cost analysis (direct, opportunity, and indirect) are critical to long-term program sustainability and future growth.