4 important reasons for creating effective HR reports
Data visualization is the practice of transforming raw data in such a way that it can help people better understand complex information. In the context of Human Resources, it can be a powerful tool for creating HR insights and metrics. The right visualization can bring to light a pattern that would not have been obvious from simply looking at the raw data. Finding trends and patterns in your organization can be a first step towards maximizing the impact of HR initiatives. Moreover, it could enhance HR's ability to align strategies with organizational goals.
Legal and compliance obligations
Secondly, each HR department has to deal with diverse legal and compliance obligations (e.g., gender equality quota, social balance, possible labor regulations). As it is important to monitor the status of such requirements, reporting can help by tracking the relevant data needed. This can greatly reduce risks and legal consequences.
HR reporting is interesting for various specific subdomains: performance, evaluation, improvement, learning, recruitment, succession management, and workforce planning. Let’s focus on one of them: workforce planning. HR reporting can easily provide critical insights into workforce trends, such as demographics, turnover rates, and possible skill gaps. By taking these insights into account, an HR professional could forecast future recruitment needs, identify critical positions, and develop effective succession strategies. The right reports can guide an organization toward having the right people with the right skills in the right places.
HR is all about the people
When presenting data in a spreadsheet, it can be confusing, unclear, and dry. Stakeholders will most likely drop out and miss an important message if the format is too hard to follow. By visualizing your data in a more comprehendible way, you can make it easier for stakeholders to follow your reasoning or even draw some conclusions themselves. You want your people to be able to engage in the HR story and help drive positive change.
6 best practices for creating effective HR reports
Know your audience
While creating an HR report, try to keep these questions in mind: Who will be reading the report? What information do they need to see? Are they primarily interested in high-level metrics, or do they want to see more granular data? By understanding your audience, you can tailor your report to their needs and ensure that it becomes more than just another document.
Let the data speak
Secondly, it might be tempting to show parts of the data that confirm certain prejudices and present them as conclusions. However, it is important to take all the data into account and present the whole picture. Even trends and conclusions that weren’t expected or even contradict your assumptions. Let the data form patterns instead of pushing it in a certain direction.
Simplicity is key
Including all the relevant information in your report is necessary, but try to keep it concise and focused. You don’t want to overload it with too many details or extraneous information. Instead, focus on the key metrics and message you want to convey to your audience. That way, it will have much more impact!
Technical jargon, what?
Remember that not everyone in your audience may be familiar with technical jargon or HR terminology. Try to use plain language wherever possible and avoid using acronyms or heavy terms. It is advisable to create a common dictionary that all reporting analysts in various departments can use. Furthermore, providing some context where necessary could help your audience understand what the numbers mean. An extra page or link to information about industry benchmarks or historical trends can give your audience a sense of how your organization compares.
Consistency, consistency, consistency
Finally, use a consistent format. Consider using the same format for each section of the report to make it easier to compare the data. Always put filters and added information in the same place, so readers know where to look and don’t have to experiment each time they open a new report.
Make it attractive
Reports that are visually pleasing will be more often presented, communicated, and spread throughout the organization. By using headings, subheadings, and bullet points to break up the information, you make it more digestible. When selecting your tool, you should consider its visual presentation and ease of use next to the more technical considerations (flexibility and compatibility with existing HR systems and data sources).
Overall, effective HR reporting can be a powerful tool for many reasons. The four most important ones are clearer data visualization, better monitoring of legal and compliance obligations, more domain-specific reasons, and the fact that HR is all about people. Our six best practices will help you achieve clear, attractive, consistent, and correct reports for your HR department. Contact us if you want to drive the change!