We’re big believers in recording historical data – we do it on nearly every screen in the system. This means that records such as ‘Employment Contracts’, ‘Compensation’ and ‘Working & Scheduled Time’ have an ‘Effective From’ and an ‘Effective To’ date, and each change in the employee’s circumstances results in a new entry in the relevant table.
You might think this is overkill, especially on a table such as ‘Address’. But there are a number of important benefits to storing the data in this way:
1. Accurate historical records
This might seem obvious, but if you don’t store historical data, you can’t retrieve it when you need it. For example, if you employ outside-EU workers, the home office may ask you to produce a historical record of addresses for your sponsored employees. Historical data also powers our new timeline view on the Personal Summary screen (below).
2. Accurate calculations
The system uses the effective dates on records to get the correct calculations for things such as holiday entitlement. For example, if Jill changes from Full Time 100% to Part Time 50% on 13th April, the system will recalculate her holiday entitlement for the year. If she changes to Part-Time 80% on 3rd September, it calculates it again. And next year, if she queries why she only received 21 days holiday last year, all the information is there to explain it.
3. Accurate Reporting
For really accurate reporting, you need to take account of historical data on multiple tables. For example, it’s a given that headcount reporting takes into account the leavers and joiners during the year. But for a really accurate figure on FTE headcount, it should also take into account the changes in people’s working patterns. So in the example above, Jill’s changes of working pattern should affect the FTE headcount of her department like this:
So, next time you’re looking at a new HR software system for your business, don’t forget to think about the history of your HR data too!