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What to Include in Your Annual HR Report

Your company’s annual HR report helps you understand the results of your last year’s people strategy and plan for the next one. Here’s what to include in it.

“You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you’ve been”, — goes the saying.

This saying also applies to HR: the first essential step at year-end is to understand where you stand after one full year of hard work.

Why create an annual HR report

An Annual HR Report can help you better understand the efficiency of your people strategy.

Here are a few reasons why you should create one:

  1. Reviewing the past year’s key initiatives and results will help you structure your thoughts about successes and failures;
  2. Knowing where you’ve been allows you to set accurate, realistic, and challenging goals as a path for the following year;
  3. A structured retrospective and a follow-up plan help engage top managers around HR initiatives and increase the budget size.

So, where do you start?

Data and visualisation vs. stories and personal perspectives

As HRs, we should strive to be more data- and evidence-based in our decisions since they impact the people and the whole organisation.

However, although data provides an answer, it often doesn’t send a message – people listen to and connect with stories.

To achieve an impactful message with your HR Annual report, you need to balance objective analytics and visualisations with translating the data into vivid examples, stories, and personal perspectives. This way, you will reach a wider audience.

When working on your annual HR report, if you would like to start with a template instead of coming up with the entire structure and wording yourself, you can download our annual HR report template.

And if you’d like to get rid of the manual work completely, learn more about how you can generate your annual HR report automatically.

Business & People Goals for the past year

To be able to conclude whether the HR activities for a specific year have been successful or not, you should know what you were aiming towards.

Start with the goals that the whole organisation and the HR department had for the year, inserting the OKRs or any other KPI you set.

Then, give a summary of whether each goal has been achieved — describe the key conclusions reached in the report as evidence for goal achievement.

It should be clear for the reader where HR stands regarding its goals from the very first glance – so keep it concise and focused on essentials!

Then, move on to present critical data for the past year’s HR activities.

Who we are and how we have changed during the past year

Understanding your workforce, its demographics and changes that happened during the year is essential for your retrospective.

Make sure to include the following HR metrics and insights derived from your data to build a strong basis for your report:

Headcount Growth Rate

The most basic information to include in the Annual HR Report answers the question of how the workforce has changed over the past year and what it looks like today. Who are your people, and how have they changed over the year?

Include charts such as the Headcount Growth Rate, showing your headcount’s evolution during the past year, but put it in a longer-term perspective if data is available (e.g. looking at the past 3-5 years).

If you have different office locations or departments, it might be an interesting picture to show how the growth rate differs across these.


The annual headcount cost is a good indicator of how much the organisation invests in its people. This represents the overall costs related to the workforce, both as an absolute amount and as % of the previous year’s number.

Other relevant data to include are the median salary and any cut done by department or location, but also employees’ absenteeism (i.e. unplanned leaves).

To take your pay analysis to the next level, consider running internal equity in compensation: it analyses how the company pays women and men in the same position. It includes data such as the median salary and the increases people received, split by men and women. If a significant gap exists, it’s the first red flag to tackle in terms of diversity.

Excerpt from the Annual HR Report Template.


In the quest of building fair and inclusive work climates, an honest look at where you stand today is vital.

Start by giving an overview of the workforce from an age, tenure, and gender point of view.

To help readers interpret these numbers, link them to your company’s strategy and explain if they’re improving or moving in the expected direction, based on the overall actions the company is taking.

Bringing in new talent

If you are thinking about scaling, you are looking for headcount growth.

To understand the success stories and struggles of bringing new talent on board, dedicate a section in the Annual HR Report to display the numbers from your recruitment process.

You can show how your job offer acceptance rate has increased or decreased over the year(s) and link it with actions you’ve taken as part of the Talent Acquisition strategy.

Other key indicators are time and quality of hiring expressed with metrics like Time to Hire, Time to Start and Quality of Hire – these are hints to possible bottlenecks slowing down the Talent Acquisition process.

To deepen your analysis, consider including data on the number of offers accepted and new hires (people hired in the past year) per location, department, or role.

Look for areas of improvement that can speed up your hiring process and provide a better candidate experience that will positively impact your Employer brand.

Why people leave

Besides bringing in new talent, you shouldn’t forget to look also at the other side of your headcount: how many employees have left the organisation and why do people leave?

A deeper look at employee turnover will help you understand if it’s something affecting your company strategy, and if you should take action before it’s too late to keep your employees from leaving.

Start from the turnover rate: by displaying the percentage of employees who left each office location or department, you can understand what is likely driving the headcount growth rate.

Continue by looking at the number of terminations: all employees who left the company, regardless of the reason. Understand this number more by analyzing in-depth terminations by department, location, role etc., and enrich your data with Exit surveys to better understand the reasons why people leave.

You can use this data to check if your retention strategy is aligned with what your employees value the most.

An indicator that speaks directly to the business and is likely to make an impact is experience loss. This reflects the number of years of internal experience and knowledge lost with the employees who left.

Turnover can be voluntary (i.e. employees choosing to leave) and involuntary (i.e. the company choosing to terminate an employment relationship). By including the data on both types of turnover, you can start seeing the issues driving turnover.

To enrich the insights around why and how employees leave your company, include data collected through exit interviews. If you don’t currently do exit interviews, consider setting this as a new goal for the upcoming year — you will soon see their value!

Why do employees stay, and what keeps them engaged?

So far, you’ve looked at the dynamics of employees joining and leaving the company, or how the cost of the workforce is distributed. Make sure to also include a section outlining the actions you take to keep employees engaged, develop them to be ready for the business challenges, and manage their performance as well as career development.

Furthermore, data around the company’s culture can help untangle this abstract concept and obtain actionable insights.

Finally, look at employee wellbeing, which is an integrative part of a motivated and productive workforce.

Talent Management

Here is where you can present data on how the past year has been for onboarding new employees, managing performance, and developing talent.

Include the data you are tracking: for example, employees’ satisfaction with the onboarding process.

In terms of performance management, you can look at the different indicators such as turnover, pay for performance, or diversity based on people’s performance. By comparing your top performers with the rest of the workforce, you can see if the differences are as expected or there’s an unfair element to them.

An excellent overall indicator that summarises how your workforce feels is the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). Presenting the results and commenting on what’s possibly behind them is a helpful overview of how employees relate to your company.

You can also show the score cut by department or location to get a more in-depth understanding.


Different challenges affect a company’s culture, and indeed there’s been enough of them in the past year.

While this section of your report can be based more on observations and stories shared by leaders, you can make it more data-based and objective by running a Culture survey.

The view based on data will likely stir the interest of the business leaders as well, as it might confirm or contradict their perceptions – granting exciting analysis and discussion!

Employee Wellbeing

In the last year, it has become more evident than ever what a vital influence work has on employees’ well-being and vice versa. Therefore, a section you should not forget to add to your Annual HR report focuses on people’s well-being, presenting the state of their engagement, burnout, and support.

If you collect data through surveys, include an overall analysis and cuts by department, role, or location.

Another insightful view can be to look at well-being data through the lens of diversity: are there specific groups of employees who have been taking the hit harder than others?

What actions has the company put in place to support them, and how can you tell if they worked?

These are all excellent questions to answer in this section.

HR KPIs for next year

Now that you’ve got an accurate picture of where you are and what has been achieved during the past year, you are in the right place to set the goals for next year. Use this section to connect the past with the future.

Excerpt from the Annual HR Report Template.

Before doing so, you will also need to know the company’s business objectives for the following year and check which methodology for goal setting is used (e.g. OKRs). Make sure to also align and collaborate with the other stakeholders in the company before setting the goals for HR.

Is there an easier way to create your Annual HR Report?

Yes, there is! You can use the Annual HR Report Template or automatically generate your annual HR report using Orgnostic.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can understand the health of your company from the people standpoint – an essential insight for the growth of any business.

Annual HR Report Template
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