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It's time to re-think your approach to HR Reporting

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Of all the questions our Customer Success Team gets asked, one of the most common is: 

“What should I include in my HR Report?”

The reality is, when it comes to reporting - whether that’s monthly, quarterly or annually - most do what they’ve always done - they produce reports on auto-pilot, presenting the same metrics over and over.

At PeopleInsight, we find that once the burden of manually prepping the data is removed from our customers’ plate, they have time to focus on the analytics and reflect on their reporting. It’s once they are freed from the manual work of data manipulation, that this question comes up. They want to know what’s best to present on a monthly, quarterly, or year-end basis, and how to decide what is most relevant.

It’s a great area for inquiry, and we think it’s a good idea for everyone, every now and then, to take a step back and think about how effective your current reporting is.

Here are 3 questions to help you assess whether you have effective reporting and suggestions for making sure you’re hitting the mark. These are the questions that should be asked of any reporting that is done with a regular cadence - monthly, quarterly, annually - where you can get into the habit of "same old, same old":

1. What are the key business questions/concerns?

This is a critical question. Sometimes we can get stuck reporting what we’ve always reported on, and miss out on providing insight into important questions.  

There’s a balance you need to strike. There’s an important consistency your reports need to have, with coverage of the fundamental aspects of your business. For example, is your headcount growing at the pace you expect? Are you losing key people in the organization?  Headcount, turnover, hires, and other areas critical to your business… these are the must-have numbers in your reports.

But then there’s the question of the other priorities in the business. Think about what initiatives are on the go, what investments the business cares about at this moment, and what questions keep coming up.  Are you supporting these in your reports?

By including analytics aligned with business priorities, not only will you address what the business needs, you’ll also showcase flexibility in your analytics and your ability to evolve as priorities change.

2. What’s the discussion you want to have? 

Think about the story you want to tell. What are the areas you want to highlight?

In addition to presenting your must-have metrics and analytics (headcount, turnover, hires, etc.), and addressing the key business questions, you will want to highlight your key Talent programs and investments, so you can show progress and accomplishments.

Be sure to also address areas of business risk.

You should also focus on the outcomes and progress from your last report delivery. For example, if you presented a potential challenge with retention in a certain group and decided on a course of action to address this, what happened? Are the turnover numbers changing for that group?

It’s important to show you are keeping up with new priorities as well as continuing to monitor progress on initiatives/identified risks from your last reporting.  

3. Who is the audience for your report? What feedback have you received?  

In order to have effective reports you need to know your audience and tailor your analytics to their interests and priorities.

Some audiences like to see comparisons between their group and others. Others only want to see analytics related to the area they are responsible for. And others want the big picture, along with the ability to drill down as desired.  For more on this see our blog Tailor Your Analytics to Your Audience.

A key step is reflecting on your past reporting. Thinking back to your last report, what do you feel worked well and what didn’t? Think about the response you received… what was the reaction to the numbers and your story?  What questions were raised? What, if anything, changed after you presented? Was it what you expected?   

Ask for direct feedback as well. Find out what resonated and didn’t in your past reports. You want to know what’s useful. Are there elements of your report that you can shelve to make room for new analytics/insight? Are there areas you are missing? You might not know unless you ask.

By reflecting on these 3 questions you should be able to assess how effective your current reporting is, identify any gaps in what you are doing, and start making improvements.  

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Stay tuned next week where we’ll present some important Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to producing effective reports.

In the meantime, check out our approach to HR Analytics and Reporting here