HR reporting is how HR metrics and analytics are organized, edited, and displayed for review; a single report is to analytics as a feature film is to the practice of filmmaking. HR reporting may be used internally to communicate important information to colleagues within an HR department, or as a way to communicate important HR findings to executives or the organization as a whole.
The most basic HR report might just be a table of numbers with or without a written explanation; however, HR reporting software often includes options to display reports in multiple formats, such as pie charts, line graphs, and bar graphs. This makes it possible for human resources professionals to create presentations for a non-HR-savvy audience with relative ease and minimal design skills.
What Can HR Reports Be Used For?
For every reason you might have to analyze HR metrics, there is a report to view the results. HR reporting is useful in every aspect of HR practice, but generally speaking, the purposes of HR reporting are:
- HR monitoring: keeping track of HR tasks and functions for internal record keeping and team performance management
- Strategic and inventory tracking: monitoring the status of company-owned equipment, the performance of HR-related functions, and the progress of HR initiatives
- Executive communication: communicating relevant information to leadership on performance and strategic initiatives
- Disciplinary action and problem monitoring: staying on top of problem areas and problematic employees or teams to ensure follow-through and examining results
- Forecasting and budgeting: using past performance to inform future estimated needs in terms of finances, workforce planning, events, and other efforts related to organizational growth
Top HR Administration Reports
Since you can pull a report on practically anything you are tracking in an HRIS, it stands to reason that there are just as many HR reports as there are metrics. However, not all of them are equally relevant to HR practice and the interests of the organization. Here are some of the most valuable HR reports from an administrative perspective:
- Employee performance report
- Company performance report
- Turnover report
- Applicant source report
- ACA report
- Survey/program participation report
- Hiring reports
What Do Executives Expect from Human Resources Reporting?
While the common stereotype portrays executives as caring only about the bottom line and little for their employees, that’s absolutely untrue—most executives are as human as you and I, and care deeply about their people.
But even cold, calculating executives understand that the wellbeing of their employees is integral to the performance and longevity of their business. They look to HR to tell them not only about the raw numbers and dollar figures involved in HR, but also trends in less objective areas like morale, engagement, and employee satisfaction.
One thing remains true about most executives and most business leaders in general: They value facts over opinions, and they prefer data they can understand in relation to KPIs they are already tracking. That means HR reports should ideally be:
- Business-critical: When asked to report on HR functions, it’s less important to be absolutely thorough than to present the most relevant and impactful information affecting the entire organization and the decisions leaders need to make. In other words, executives are more likely to see value in reports that track or predict the success of HR functions, and reports on initiatives that translate to money earned and spent, rather than reports that don’t affect the bottom line.
- Data-forward: It’s a safe bet to provide the numbers before you offer an explanation or any advice; that goes for almost any report to a superior in any industry or organization. Your interpretation of what a report means is likely important, but without a foundation of data to kick it off, it becomes a philosophical lecture. Putting the data first is also an easy way to ensure that people who prefer to see numbers without any subjective “color” can avoid feeling influenced simply by looking at what comes first.
- Properly aligned: People want to see information that they can easily compare to what they already know or what they may see elsewhere. For example, if your organization follows a quarterly schedule, make sure your reports follow the same schedule, unless there’s a very good reason to diverge from that format. The same goes for budgeting or any other data: use the units of measurement and the visual formatting that the rest of the organization uses (unless you can’t).
- Easily digestible: You may think that everything in HR is easy to understand, but that’s probably because you’re used to it. There’s no need to dumb down common business terminology or spell everything out multiple times, but make sure that when you’re introducing new terms, information, or analytics, they are easy to understand. Nobody will fault you for using the long form of an HR-specific acronym or explaining how you arrived at a particular analytical result the first time you introduce a new concept.
As data-driven HR becomes more prevalent and HR software tools become more sophisticated, there’s no limit to how HR analytics might benefit businesses of the future. Even now, machine learning programs are applying analytics to improve all sorts of HR-related processes, from screening job applicants to providing training that matches employee learning speed. In many cases, the analysis will be done automatically and processes will improve as a result. In others, HR analytics may help HR professionals become engagement and culture oracles, able to predict negative trends months and years before they happen and act to resolve them before they start.
Whether it’s in the next decade or in the next week, it’s clear that HR data—and the people work it enables—holds the key to organizational success. And that’s one more reason to move beyond the limitations and pitfalls of manual HR processes and traditional HR thinking. The future of HR is bright, but it’s up to HR to step forward and embrace it.
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