Are you committed to providing managerial and operational staff with the information they need?
Could you figure in headlines like “Employers ‘named and shamed’ over minimum wage failings” or “right-to-work checks?” More than one household name has been caught out recently.

Do you know how many days you lose to sickness each month, or how long it takes to fill a vacancy? Lots of companies don’t.

These and similar questions are causing considerable unease for senior managers; if the big guns can’t get it right, how are we going to cope?

Actually, it shouldn’t be a problem at all if you use your HR system’s reporting capabilities to do the hard work for you.

Let’s go right back to the beginning. The data you put into your HR system must be accurate and complete. Seems obvious doesn’t it, but I can safely say the majority of my clients have said at the outset that they consider their data as “iffy”, “mainly correct” or somewhere in between.

Self-service makes employees responsible for much of their data, but there needs to be a rigorous control procedure in place that dictates that changes authorised by managers such as salary, position, department and so on must be reflected in the system without exception. HR people have wasted enough time having to manually put reports right because of omissions and oversights by operational managers.

Secondly, the data must be timely. If your absence or performance stats are a month out of date, then the output is only fit for historical purposes, which in this era of lightning change is fairly irrelevant. Wide-ranging self-service rights eliminate the old problem of paper holiday requests, sickness absence forms piling up in the HR office, or performance reviews never making it off line managers’ desks.

Next, the right reports need to be configured. In times gone by, HR system report writers were ponderous and needed a degree in logic to master, but now they are much more intuitive and user-friendly. Work out what the desired report should reflect and how it should appear, identify the data elements, and use filters and other qualifying tools to arrive at the desired result. You may have to experiment at first to get what you are looking for. I would recommend to any practitioner that they invest time and resource when they have a new (or existing!) HR system in getting proficient in this vital part of the software. Data, and the ability to present it in required formats is now an essential part of any HR professional’s job.

The reports that you and your organisation need will be driven by:
a) compliance, such as equal opportunities monitoring, eligibility to work and testing for minimum wage legislation adherence
b) financial, examples being headcount and salary budgets to actual, and outstanding paid time off entitlements;
c) effectiveness monitoring, such as tracking effectiveness of your learning / training outgoings by looking at attendance, feedback or performance improvement after the event;
d) general management and operational, showing areas of absence, poor performance or employee attrition that could signal local manager problems or a more fundamental organisation-wide issue.

These are just some examples of the types of reports you’ll need to be able to configure in your system. The content of b, c and d will vary from enterprise to enterprise, and here is where you need to be in close communication with those departments (your internal clients) to establish exactly what information they need, and what your system can offer them. Being proactive at this point will help your cause immensely.

If you need help with compiling reports, don’t hesitate to contact your HR system supplier; they will give you the very best advice, and may even have a template that you can modify to save time.

Finally: remember that these reports are of vital importance to your organisation. Don’t be a gatekeeper. Make them freely available to your key players via the self-service system. This is one of the best ways to demonstrate HR’s true value.

Obviously, data security is critical, especially in the light of GDPR. However, the majority of ‘grown up’ HR systems come with advanced role-based security, so you can control access to data based on parameters, such as role or location. It’s worth remembering that enabling managers to interrogate data while logged into your HR system is likely to be considerably more secure than data that is emailed as spreadsheets or other attachments.

The Big Five:

  • Self-Service
  • Work Flow
  • Report writer
  • Automatic Triggers / Notifications
  • Organisation Charts

David BarnardDenis Barnard is acknowledged to be a leading expert in the selection of HR & payroll systems, and other HRIS, both inside and outside the UK.

He has been instrumental in leading successful selection and implementation projects in a wide range of sectors, including local government, Higher Education, publishing, music industry and manufacturing.

His recently-published book “Selecting and implementing HR & payroll software” has been acclaimed by leading HR practitioners.