How to Write an HR Report
It’s important that any and all information coming from the human resources department is accurate, understandable, supported by data and, usually, confidential to appropriate levels of management. HR departments have access to all sorts of private information on employees and are required to report to management on very sensitive topics like employee performance, salary levels and HR complaints. Anyone compiling or handling these reports needs to be able to stay calm and unbiased, approaching this private information with caution and care.
HR stands for human resources, and the focus of their reporting is on the people who do the day-to-day work within the company. It’s HR’s job to look at the immediate working conditions and employee satisfaction levels while also using historical personnel trends over time to identify and highlight any problem issues with which the company may need to deal.
Many of these reports use real employee data pulled from a database to display averages, percentages and trends over time, while other HR reports may deal with personnel incidents or complaints, which usually contain individual statements and descriptions rather than hard numbers. They may also include monthly recruitment reports or HR annual reports. Thus, HR is responsible for a number of different types of data-based reporting.
Workplace image reports capture a snapshot of the current workforce, including breakdowns by job grade or level, years with the company and salary as well as information by gender, reported race and other diversity factors if measured by the business. This helps management understand what personnel pieces they have in play, their current measure of diversity at any given level and how job seniority is distributed within the organization.
Employee life cycle reports look at the cycle of new hires coming on, employee retirement and who is leaving the organization. It will measure the number of new hires per department, per job grade or level or per employee education history and/or experience as well as by diversity factors. This is a measure of the health of the employee onboarding program and the quality of new employees the company is attracting.
It will also look at employees leaving the company, whether through retirement, resignation or termination, and evaluate whether there are trends in that turnover that might reveal areas in which management needs to improve. These reports focus on churn (a measure of employee turnover), retention (how long employees stay in certain positions) and even the cost of recruitment and separation.
Costs of sickness and absence reports can also be run by HR. These are valuable reports looking at rates of absenteeism in certain departments or by demographic, costs of sickness and sick time including the costs due to health insurance and other medical claims and analysis of other types of paid leave.
While these sorts of reports make people nervous and can be used to highlight problematic employees for whom absenteeism can be a problem, they can also highlight individuals with disabilities whose needs may not be met in their own personal workplace. Maintaining trends for these costs over time will help a business to better understand the work-life balance of its employees.
Performance management and training reports summarize the internal ratings of employees by department or demographic and can be used not just to highlight the current performance distribution but also to pinpoint areas where performance management ratings could have been misapplied (i.e., one department where everyone exceeds expectations or one where everyone fails to meet expectations). They can also measure the effectiveness of certain training over time and include a summary of each employee’s training history.
Most of these reports can be automated once built into the HR management system, and they are usually reported to upper management on a quarterly or biannual basis. Being able to produce a snapshot of the current status quo as well as track trends over time is incredibly helpful when a business is looking to change directions, launch a new initiative and/or drive future success.
The HR department also has the capability of obtaining more qualitative information about the state of the workplace and potential problematic situations. This information can come from a number of places, including internal and external employee surveys, private reports and complaints and anonymous tips. Putting together a report of these types of metrics for management can help guide them to better efficiency via insights.
- Employee Engagement and Satisfaction: This workplace factor has become more and more important as younger employees enter the workplace and due to changing expectations. Internal surveys can help HR measure how engaged employees feel and whether they’re satisfied with their teammates, their management and their work. Employees with high engagement and satisfaction tend to perform better, keep morale high and trust their leadership.
- Employee-Manager Relationships: A combination of performance management trends, survey results and personal discussions can help HR identify when there’s an issue with employee-manager relations. For example, an employee may be struggling to understand his manager’s expectations, or a manager might have been overloaded with work from his boss and no longer has time to engage in small talk. Using this information, HR can help to reconnect managers and their employees and adjust everyone’s expectations.
- Private Complaints, Reports and Tips: Most workplaces have a method by which individual employees can report problematic behavior to HR in confidence, either in person or via some sort of anonymous tip line or inbox. These situations are much more personal and require a different approach than public reports.
Like any data system that is filtered through human employees, mistakes can be made in HR reporting as well, but it’s incredibly critical to ensure accuracy in HR reports because they’re used at such high levels of management to make key critical decisions. Executives will use this information to decide budgets for hiring and for turnover, to make critical decisions on headcount and new positions and to help align any reorganization that may be occurring. It’s also critical to have a good measure on diversity factors, as companies can be asked to report out to certain agencies to prove there are no factors of bias in their hiring process.
Many HR software systems will be able to collate this information through automated reports. That being said, it’s important to be familiar with the data in order to catch discrepancies or changes that could be noteworthy or could in fact be errors. Even in an automated report, take the time to dig into anything that looks or seems unusual; some anomalies can be explained by typos or by preexisting situations.
When compiling an HR report, it’s important to stick to the facts shown by the data. Suggest conclusions based on trends over time but be clear on what is real data and what is an assumption. Consider the audience of the report: Is this for the board or an executive management team, or is it a report for individual teammates? Also, check and double check that no confidential information is included anywhere because accidentally releasing this kind of information can cause incredibly complicated problems.
HR is also responsible for managing individual incidents involving problematic behavior among employees. These situations can involve anything from bullying or foul language all the way to explicit sexual harassment. It’s critical that HR makes sure the process for reporting these issues is as simple as possible.
For individuals wondering how to communicate this information in a letter or email to HR, consider these tips on how to professionally communicate sensitive information:
- Using straightforward, professional language, name the personnel involved and describe the inappropriate behaviors witnessed. Only comment on things actually seen or heard rather than gossip and hearsay and don’t extrapolate or speculate on reasons.
- Share the time and date and/or files with a time stamp (like emails) that support the observation. It’s recommended to email yourself in cases where HR can’t be reached right away to have a formal record with a time stamp.
- Briefly let HR know why this situation is uncomfortable or inappropriate. In some cases (sexist/sexual comments, foul language, etc.) this is obvious, but in cases where the behavior might be more subjective, be sure to explain to HR your internal reaction to this behavior.
- Suggest a time to meet with an HR representative to discuss the situation. Meeting with HR doesn’t mean anyone will “get in trouble,” nor does it imply that an individual is “weak” or “thin skinned” when it comes to workplace camaraderie. In fact, employees who work with HR to improve their environment are often more engaged and invested in their work.
If an incident has been reported to HR, it will need to be formally reported. Keep in mind that all of this information needs to be as confidential as possible. Work through the following steps to construct a good incident report:
- Start by identifying the individual who made the report along with the date, time and method she used to do so.
- Explain in simple and concise terms the situation that caused the report to be made. Be sure to clarify which behaviors were actually observed or noted and which ones have not yet been confirmed. Identify any other individuals who may have also witnessed the scene or who might be able to corroborate the situation.
- Review the records of employees involved. This will help bring context to the report. For example, an employee might have a previous record of using inappropriate language, which would escalate the severity of the response.
- Interview the teammate implicated in the original report and record her point of view. Mark places where stories differ and/or when other individuals may be able to corroborate other details.
Construct additional interviews for individuals who might be able to give more information or confirm a witness statement. Make sure to keep as many details as possible confidential
while still managing to ask for meaningful information. If another teammate can back up an existing statement, note that in the report as well.
* The conclusion of the report should involve the resolution of the situation, including any disciplinary actions that were taken. Record dates and times of all meetings and file appropriately.
Overall, as the handlers of some of the most sensitive information a company has, it’s incredibly important that human resources spends the time to make sure the reporting is accurate and unbiased no matter the topic.
On a large scale, the conclusions and recommendations on personnel status will be incorporated into the company’s executive goals and direction. On an individual scale, HR is expected to successfully manage interpersonal relationship issues as well as to keep a pulse on the overall sense of satisfaction and engagement within the workplace.
The critical role in connecting the company’s long-term goals and the individuals who make up the workforce makes HR a key position in any business. It’s important to make sure HR representatives have all the tools and support they might need.