The Most Useful HR Reports for New Users

If you’re not using HR reporting tools to further your business, we have a bone to pick with you. You’ve finally gotten a handle on the mountain of paperwork and turned it into a molehill, but here’s the thing: data is useless if all you do is organize it and leave it alone. You know the next step is to start thinking and acting like a business. What you don’t know is how to use the data you’ve organized to help you work more efficiently, improve your processes, and prove your value to your organization.

Reports are the answer. They give you big-picture views of the data you control and let you compare different data points to reveal possible reasons behind past successes and failures. Reports grant insights that help you plan for the future, and they double-check your processes to help ensure you’ve completed a task.

When people ask you what metrics you’re using to measure your success, they’re asking whether you’ve compared past recorded numbers to the present. And when people question—as many do—whether HR is valuable beyond its legal necessity, reports prove how HR affects the bottom line as much as any other department.

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So, which reports are the best ones to pull? Different situations call for different types of data analysis, but there are some constants across the board that provide near-universal “bang for the buck,” so to speak. Here are a few reports we feel grant immediately useful insights that you can use to change your business for the better. If you’re a skeptic about the value of all those numbers, dates, and names you’ve entered over the years, these reports will make you a believer.

Turnover Reports

Every company experiences it, but many view turnover as a simple percentage offering little more than an idea of whether people enjoy working for them or not. They’re not wrong, if all they look at are voluntary departures. Look deeper, however, and you’ll discover one of the best ways to analyze performance and improve workforce planning. Breakdowns by department, age, reason for departure, and length of employment all reflect the many different factors affecting your workforce and in turn, your bottom line. High first-year turnover, for example, might point to a problem with onboarding or new-employee engagement, and by lowering it you can significantly reduce costs related to training and recruiting.

Applicant Source Reports

If you are using an applicant tracking system, chances are you’re also posting openings to myriad websites, job boards, social media outlets, and possibly even paid sourcing agents. An Applicant Source report can show you where and when you’re getting the best results, which departments tend to attract candidates from which channels, and whether or not your headhunters are worth the money. By optimizing your job postings, you’ll attract more and better candidates, fill positions faster, and get the jump on your competition in the marketplace.

Employee Performance Reports

We’ve taught you how to change the way your company manages performance, but once those reviews are complete, the next step is to examine the results. A well-designed Employee Performance report makes it easy to see where efforts are flagging and what team members stand out in the rockstar category. You should be able to swap views across departments and compare results over time, as well as drill down deeper into individual employees’ reviews to get a better idea of why they need help (or why they rule the school). By looking at performance from high and low levels, you gain a better idea of what departments and individuals could use extra attention, and where you can take cues from to help the entire organization achieve its best.

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Company Performance Reports

One of the critical lessons in performance management is the value of two-way and 360-degree feedback; it’s just as important to examine your organization’s performance in the eyes of employees as it is to look at employee performance with a critical eye. A Company Performance report allows you to do just that, and works in tandem with Employee Performance reporting to add an extra layer of insight into cultural successes and failures. For example, if your rockstar department is feeling highly valued and your underdogs aren’t, that could signal a management deficiency. If the inverse is true, you may be risking losing great talent while the slackers keep slacking off and getting praised for it.

ACA Reports

For a class of report that just makes your job easier, look no further than Affordable Care Act reports. Filling out ACA forms is onerous enough without the endless hassle of investigating individual employees and stressing over the accuracy of the information you’re submitting. An ACA report that provides benefits history helps you determine employees’ eligibility, which is critical to filling out Part II of the 1095-C. Meanwhile, a report that covers employee status for the whole company gives you an accurate way to double-check your information in Part III of the same form.

The Most Useful HR Reports for New Users

There are dozens of reports available to HR that can simplify, enhance, or offer deeper understanding at every level of an organization, from the big picture all the way down to individual employees. This is by no means an exhaustive list; it’s meant only as an eye-opener to the power of reporting and to dispel the reputation of reports as useful once per year in a presentation to your executive team.

HR spends a lot of time gathering data, but much less time putting it to work on its behalf. It’s time we evened out the scales.