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Methods of Human Resource Accounting – 6 Major Methods Explained in Detail | Human Resource Management

Methods of Human Resource Accounting

A human resources accounting (HRA) process seeks to quantify and assess the value of a person’s skills, knowledge, experience, and potential to contribute to an organization’s success. It involves measuring the economic value of the people employed within an organization, taking into account their skills, knowledge, experience, and potential contributions to the organization.

It aims to recognize employees as valuable assets and acknowledge their significant contribution to the performance and sustainability of an organization.

According to HRA, human resources are an essential part of organizational success. The HRA approach examines the value of intangible assets, particularly an organization’s human capital, in addition to tangible assets like machinery and equipment. Organizations can make better decisions regarding human resource management and development if they recognize human resources as assets in financial statements.

Human Resource Accounting uses a variety of methods to value human resources, each with its own unique approach. Let’s explore these methods in more detail:

Method of Human Resource Accounting

Cost-based Method:

In the cost-based method of HRA, the organization assesses how much it spent on acquiring and developing its human resources. A cost-based approach includes the recruitment, selection, hiring, and training costs of employees. The key components are:

a. Historical Costs:

This component includes all actual expenses incurred during the recruitment and selection process, such as recruitment agency fees, advertising costs, and interview costs.

b. Training and Development Costs:

This component is responsible for the cost of employee training and development programs such as workshops, seminars, on-the-job training, and other initiatives aimed at enhancing employees’ skills.

In the cost-based approach, recruitment and training expenses are recorded and accounted for, which makes it relatively straightforward. However, critics argue that it only captures the investment made in human resources without considering their potential future value to an organization.

Replacement Cost Method:

The replacement cost method uses the cost of replacing existing employees with similar skilled individuals on the labor market to estimate the value of human resources. Organizations facing high employee turnover rates can use this method to quantify the cost of replacing employees in order to better understand how important it is to retain and develop their employees.

As part of the replacement cost method, the recruitment, selection, orientation, and training costs of new employees are considered. The purpose of the study is to determine the financial impact of losing skilled and experienced workers, as well as recruiting and training replacements.

Opportunity Cost Method:

The opportunity cost method of HRA assesses the value of human resources by taking into account the opportunity costs of not utilizing their skills and potential to the fullest. Employees possess capabilities beyond their current roles, which represent lost opportunities for organizations when these skills remain unused.

A company can maximize employee potential by evaluating opportunity costs, but measuring opportunity costs involves predicting future outcomes and potential scenarios, which can be challenging.

Present Value of Future Earnings Method:

Using this method, the potential value of human resources is calculated by estimating the future earnings they will likely generate for the organization. By discounting the earnings, productivity gains, and contributions of employees to their present value, this method involves projecting their earnings, productivity gains, and contributions.

By taking into account factors such as employee career progression, potential for growth, and future contributions to the organization, the present value of future earnings method considers the long-term impact of human resources on the organization’s performance.

There is, however, a challenge in quantifying accurately future earnings and contributions using this method, as it requires reliable predictions and assumptions.

Human Capital Index Method:

An organization’s human capital is assessed by calculating scores or weights based on the attributes of its employees in order to provide a comprehensive assessment. In addition to skills, experience, education, performance, and potential for growth, these attributes are aggregated to produce an overall human capital strength index.

There are multiple factors contributing to the value of human resources. However, determining the appropriate weights for different attributes can be subjective and difficult.

Balanced Scorecard Method:

A balanced scorecard aligns Human Resource Accounting with an organization’s overall strategic goals. The study evaluates how human resources affect customer satisfaction, employee engagement, innovation, and financial performance for an organization.

To assess whether human resources are effective in achieving the organization’s strategic goals, the balanced scorecard approach goes beyond financial measures.

Importance of Human Resource Accounting

Human Resource Accounting is of significant importance to organizations due to the following reasons:

Improved Decision Making:

Organizations can make more informed decisions about human resources management, recruitment, training, and development by valuing them as assets. For employees to maximize their potential, it aids in resource allocation and investment decisions.

Employee Retention and Engagement:

Recognizing the value of human resources can lead to greater employee satisfaction, retention, and engagement. Employees feel valued when their contributions are acknowledged, which creates a positive work environment.

Strategic Planning:

Identifying key areas for employee development and skill enhancement aligns HRA with organizations’ strategic planning. It enables organizations to plan for future workforce needs proactively.

Investor Confidence:

A HRA can enhance investor confidence by demonstrating the organization’s commitment to enhancing its human resources. Investors often view human capital as a critical indicator of an organization’s long-term prospects.

Performance Evaluation:

In HRA, performance is evaluated in terms of its contribution to organizational goals, identifying areas for improvement, and aligning employee performance with organizational objectives.

Challenges and Limitations of Human Resource Accounting

While Human Resource Accounting provides valuable insights, there are several challenges and limitations related to its implementation:


Human resources appraisals are subject to subjective judgments and assumptions, which can make them difficult to make precise judgments about them. This subjectivity can lead to skepticism about HRA’s reliability.

Intangibility of Human Capital:

Despite its intangible nature, human capital is a valuable asset, and its value cannot be quantified accurately. Creativity, innovation, and collaboration are examples of unquantifiable contributions made by employees.

Data Availability:

Organizations may not have access to all the relevant data required in order to estimate HRA accurately. Gathering reliable and comprehensive data is a complex process.

Dynamic Nature of Human Capital:

It is critical to continuously monitor and adjust the value of human capital due to its dynamic nature. During the course of a person’s career, employees gain skills and experience that are constantly evolving.

Integration with Traditional Accounting:

The different nature of tangibles and intangibles makes integrating HRA with traditional financial accounting challenging.

Human Resource Accounting is an important tool that enables organizations to recognize the importance of human capital as a critical asset. A human resource management system aligns with the strategic objectives of an organization by quantifying the value of employees in financial terms. Due to the intangible nature of human capital and the subjectivity involved in valuing it, implementing HRA comes with challenges.

Human Resource Accounting, despite its limitations, offers insights that can assist organizations in making better decisions, improving employee engagement and retention, and improving overall performance. HRA will likely play an increasingly important role in strategic decision-making and long-term as organizations continue to realize the value of their human resources.

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