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Updated Oct 11, 2023

Understanding HR Reporting

HR reporting can provide your business with critical insights into your workforce and how it operates.

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Patrick Proctor, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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Monitoring essential attributes of your workforce is pivotal to making informed decisions about the business. If you observe employee performance, attendance, turnover and other crucial metrics, you can gauge how effectively your staff aligns with your organization’s objectives. Leading HR software facilitates this through HR reporting, which provides the data needed to ultimately save your business time, money and energy.

What is HR reporting?

HR reporting tracks vital workforce metrics, typically facilitated by Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS). Beyond data collection and measurement, these systems empower HR teams to handle daily tasks related to payroll, benefits and other HR reporting-related transactions. 

HR reports offer insights into various data points, such as comparing full-time and part-time employees, gender distribution in the workforce, employee turnover rates, job vacancies, and the time it takes to make new hires. To conduct HR reporting, businesses can use basic tools like Excel spreadsheets or work with a vendor that specializes in managing HR data. [Read related article: How to Utilize Big Data for Human Resources]

Editor’s note: Looking for the right HR Software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

What types of HR reports and metrics should you monitor?

Several HR metrics, when juxtaposed with other data points, provide comprehensive insights, aiding in the analysis of historical trends. For instance, consistent HR reporting on employee retention can spotlight areas that need improvement within the organization. 

Here are four key types of HR reports you should track, and the key metrics they consist of.

1. Recruiting report 

HR reporting on the recruitment process is essential when hiring or planning to hire new employees. Assessing the success of your recruitment strategies can expedite the process and ensure the best fit for each role. Key metrics for this report include the following.

  • Function type: This metric categorizes various roles within a company, considering departments and geographical regions.
  • Open positions and new hires: These metrics show the number and/or percentage of open positions you currently have, as well as how many employees joined the organization within the past year.
  • Time to fill vacancies: This metric, also known as “average time to hire,” evaluates the duration from job requisition approval to offer acceptance, reflecting the efficiency of the recruitment process.
Did You Know?Did you know
The average time it takes to fill an open position is 42 days.
  • Recruitment costs: This accounts for the expenses incurred on external staffing agencies, job advertisements, and productivity losses. Analyzing cost per hire for different roles can pinpoint areas of efficiency and those needing improvement.
  • Recruiting conversion rate: This metric evaluates the success rate of converting job applicants into employees. Analyzing this shows you how successful your recruitment efforts are.

2. Performance management report 

Managing employee performance is critical to the success of your business. HR reporting can provide insights into your employees’ performance and areas needing additional training. Some key metrics are listed below.

  • Training costs: This encompasses expenses related to training new and existing employees, including travel and material costs.
  • Productivity reports: These metrics evaluate individual employee productivity and can be extended to teams or departments.
  • Engagement and satisfaction reports: These metrics gauge employee engagement levels. Having an engaged workforce is an indicator that you have a healthy work culture. It can also help increase employee retention.
  • Absenteeism rate: This shows the average percentage of time or days employees were absent in the previous period.
Did You Know?Did you know
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), full-time employees' average absenteeism rate is 3.6 percent. Read our related article to learn how to stop absenteeism in the workplace.

3. HR administrative report 

Administrative reports offer a holistic view of the company. Key metrics include the following.

  • Active employees: This metric reflects the current number of full-time and part-time employees.
  • Full-time Equivalent (FTE): This metric converts part-time employee hours into full-time metrics. On an annual basis, an FTE is equivalent to 2,080 hours, which equates to eight hours per day for five workdays per week.
  • Male-to-female rate: This metric helps address pay disparities and potential healthcare cost issues.
  • Education level: This evaluates employee qualifications and the percentage of the workforce with advanced degrees.
  • Turnover rate: This HR reporting metric represents the percentage of employees leaving the company for various reasons, including voluntary exits, terminations and retirements.
FYIDid you know
Organizations should generally aim for a 10 percent turnover rate or less, although this can depend on your industry.

4. Compensation report 

A compensation report is essential for businesses to understand how much they spend on their employees. When compiling compensation reports, look at the following metrics.

  • Employee pay: This encompasses various data points like base salary, overtime pay, paid leave, payroll deductions and additional incentives.
  • Cost of absence: This metric primarily focuses on unscheduled absenteeism, which is essential to uncovering one of the most expensive unseen costs in the workplace.
  • Cost of labor: This represents the total compensation for employees, including wages, benefits and employer-paid payroll taxes.

These are just some of the more common HR metrics that can provide you with a better understanding of how your organization is performing compared with the competition.

What are the benefits of HR reporting?

The benefits of HR reporting are numerous and can significantly impact your organization’s overall performance and strategic decision-making. Here are some key benefits.

  • Strategy development and alignment: Each year, companies develop new strategies and projections, and businesses need to assess HR metrics as a part of that planning. These metrics help HR leaders understand how HR-related activities contribute to overall business objectives and where adjustments are needed to better align with the company’s strategy.
  • Increased transparency and accountability: HR reporting promotes transparency within your organization. It holds HR accountable for its actions and provides employees and stakeholders insight into HR processes and outcomes. When your team members can view data about your organization, they are more informed and feel more connected to the company, which is crucial for building engagement and inclusivity.
  • Talent management: Speaking of employee engagement, HR reporting assists in talent management by providing insights into employee engagement, development and succession planning. This helps identify high-potential employees, address skill gaps and develop talent retention strategies.
  • Diversity and inclusion: HR reporting can track diversity and inclusion metrics, such as the representation of different demographic groups within the workforce. This information is crucial for assessing progress toward diversity goals and fostering an inclusive workplace.
  • Legal compliance and risk management: HR reporting helps ensure the organization complies with legal and regulatory requirements. It allows HR to track compliance with labor laws, diversity and inclusion goals, and other regulatory mandates to reduce the risk of legal penalties.
  • Cost efficiencies: HR reporting can help control costs. When organizations analyze data on recruitment, training and benefits, they can identify areas where cost-saving measures can be implemented without compromising the quality of HR services.

Overall, HR reporting is a valuable tool for effectively managing HR functions, making data-driven decisions, creating an engaged and productive workforce, and ensuring legal compliance.

What are the challenges of HR reporting?

HR reporting can be a powerful tool for organizations but also comes with potential challenges. Below are some of the common challenges of HR reporting.

  • HR data complexity: Data is only helpful if someone knows how to compile and interpret it. However, HR reporting can be complex, and many professionals lack the technical expertise to generate and interpret meaningful reports. This can lead to inaccurate or incomplete reports.
  • Data quality and integration: HR data is often spread across multiple systems, such as payroll, performance management and recruitment software. It is challenging to collect and integrate the data needed to generate accurate reports.
  • Employee privacy and data security: HR reporting often involves sensitive employee information. Maintaining data privacy and security is crucial to comply with data protection laws and protect employee confidentiality.
  • Regulatory compliance: HR reporting requirements are subject to change due to evolving labor laws and regulations. Staying compliant with these changes is a constant challenge for HR teams. This is especially true for companies that operate in multiple states or countries.

Despite the challenges, HR reporting is an essential part of effective HR management. A well-defined HR reporting strategy can help you navigate these challenges effectively.

What is the best software for HR reporting?

For growing companies, using highly rated HR software can be advantageous. Many offer cloud-based platforms that organize data for more streamlined HR reporting. With their user-friendly dashboards, HR managers can visualize vast amounts of data in an organized, useful interface. This is particularly useful for areas such as talent management, as you can see a clear breakdown organized by time or costs. 

If you’re looking for the best HR software for HR reporting, here are some notable options:

  • BambooHR: BambooHR offers reporting, applicant tracking, a centralized employee database, metrics/KPI tracking and more. Read our full review of BambooHR.
  • Paychex Flex: Paychex Flex gives users the option to access ad hoc reporting and real-time analytics. You can even set up alerts based on certain behaviors. Learn more in our full review of Paychex Flex.
  • Paycor: Paycor has some of the most comprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities of all the HR software we reviewed. It offers current and projected workforce trends, and allows users to access a variety of charts and graphs. We dive into more details about Paycor’s reporting features in our comprehensive Paycor review.
  • Rippling: Rippling is a highly customizable HR software, and its configurability extends to its reporting features. You can access and modify built-in report templates, and easily share reports with other people within the Rippling system. Read our full review of Rippling.
  • Gusto: Gusto’s services include payroll and HR servicing, and its versatility makes it great for companies in a variety of industries. It offers HR reports like new hire reporting, payroll and time off reporting, and workforce costing and reporting. Read our full review of Gusto to learn more.

Skye Schooley contributed to this article.

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Patrick Proctor, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
Patrick Proctor is a human resources and people operations expert with SHRM-SCP certification and an MBA in business management. He has spent nearly 20 years leading HR for organizations of varying sizes, some international. He advises on regulatory compliance, workforce management, aligning strategic business objectives with human capital initiatives and more. Proctor is passionate about helping businesses establish employee-centric workplace cultures that increase team member satisfaction while also maintaining cost efficiency and improving ROI. He also enjoys integrating distributed teams and developing the next generation of leadership. He has written about workplace issues for publications like Entrepreneur and sits on the boards of advisors for people management company ChangeEngine and UC Santa Barbara's Professional and Continuing Education program.
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