The HR department must have a good relationship with upper management. Ideally, HR should report to the highest levels of the C-suite, such as the CEO and CFO. When margins get tight and somebody upstairs wants to cut bonuses or benefits, does your HR team have the data to advocate for employees with a compelling argument?
As with all types of reporting and writing, make sure you remember your audience. If you’re reporting to the CEO and other executives, then you’re lucky to have an audience who can throw their weight and support behind future HR projects. Don’t waste that opportunity by taking the CEO’s attention for granted or forgetting HR’s role in the larger success of the business.
Keep these principles in mind when preparing HR reports and collecting data for executives.
When reporting to executives, HR data should be:
What kind of data is most relevant for executives? Once you’ve got their attention, don’t make the mistake of reporting trivial or unreliable data. Preserve and strengthen your department’s connection with upper management by making sure your data meets these standards:
Don’t forget how HR initiatives and metrics impact the company’s bottom line. Those connections may not be as obvious to executives outside of the HR department. Routine reports should clarify whether recent changes in data reflect more critical long term trends.
Provide numbers before explaining your interpretation of the data. Especially when you’re reporting to executives, some people won’t enjoy being told what to think. Someone who doesn’t like your conclusion may be noticeably skeptical (or even hostile) toward the data you provide to explain your opening assertions.
Up to date and accurate
Your information should stand up to detailed scrutiny, but you can’t spend weeks double checking numbers. HR software for Reporting and Analytics makes it easier to add, subtract, and multiply data without (at the same time) multiplying the opportunities for human errors.
Use the same formatting, terminology, and scheduling as the rest of your organization. Does a quarterly, monthly, or academic calendar make sense for reporting? If managers use certain terms for productivity, products, and accounts, then internal HR reports can use the same jargon where relevant.
Reporting software should help you transmit PDFs and other formats electronically, most likely by email. Depending on how your company does business, you may print quarterly reports for executives and stakeholders. HR metrics and initiatives should never seem inaccessible or obscure to other leaders at the company.
HR reports should be easy to read and largely self-explanatory. Charts and graphs should show the most important metrics without excessive detail. The goal of reporting is not to provide all available information. Although unnecessary on a typical HR report, it’s worth remembering that an “Executive Summary” condenses and summarizes the most important ideas of a longer report.
Four tips for HR when reporting to executives
1) Prioritize HR initiatives
When all kinds of detailed data is available, which metrics deserve the most attention? Routine data collection should confirm that key systems are running smoothly, but you can also lay the groundwork (and track results) for HR initiatives. Without metrics that focus on HR initiatives, executives may view HR projects as arbitrary and ineffective.
It takes a lot of work to rollout new policy changes and update the employee handbook, but don’t forget to track the effects of policy changes after they’re implemented. Even when changes aren’t as successful as you’d hoped, you may be able to troubleshoot unexpected results.
2) Ensure buy-in throughout company
Some HR departments can seem detached from the daily business of the workplace. Working with executives is a shortcut that facilitates communication with other departments. Instead of justifying a new proposal to every department head individually, you can prove that you’re serious by beginning with an endorsement from the top.
Additionally, changes to software and policies take work to implement. You’ll always want to listen to the objections and concerns of stakeholders, but their feedback may be more constructive once a project has the CEO’s approval.
3) Keep HR strategically aligned with the business
Remember your goals and remember how HR initiatives fit into larger company goals. It’s not enough to prove that your new policy had the intended effect on obscure data points. Continue to watch for unintended consequences and alignment with larger company goals.
Would an expansion of vacation time create scheduling problems or leave departments shorthanded? If your extended training program leads to an exodus of increasingly overqualified workers, then an initially successful program may have an overall negative impact.
4) Place the emphasis on people
Your presentation of data should highlight the human impact of policy changes and programs. “Happiness” and “job satisfaction” might be approximated in employee surveys and feedback, but you can give those metrics more weight by pushing further to business consequences like “absenteeism” and “turnover.”
A lot of HR-specific reporting and analytics depends on quantitative data, but you can still use those metrics to remind executives about human implications. Some executives forget how drastic measures can affect the company culture and attitudes of employees who aren’t fired.
Learn more about how Netchex makes HR reporting work for you:
Learn more about our HR Reporting & Analytics software. Netchex makes collecting, analyzing, and reporting on HR data easy, straightforward, and worry-free.
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