Article: The three other reports every employer needs to publish

Strategic HR

The three other reports every employer needs to publish

Can we achieve better outcomes just by tweaking the paperwork a bit?
The three other reports every employer needs to publish

The number of reports an organisation publishes is increasing with each passing year. As organisations reminisce about simpler times when the quarterly financial report and the annual shareholder letter sufficed, it is fair to say, it is still not enough. With governments and stakeholders now asking for sustainability (ESG) reports, energy consumption reports, gender pay gap and pay transparency reports, I couldn’t help wondering what was missing from the list. But before I share the three other reports I think organisations need to publish in 2024, let’s talk about why reports are important. 

It’s an age-old rule – what is important gets measured and what gets measured, gets driven. But it isn’t just the organisation alone that determines what’s important anymore. Quite rightly, external factors such as regulations or market forces also determine what organisations should be held accountable for. Reports are nothing other than publicly available paperwork that captures the current state and drives accountability. These reports not only inform the government and shareholders, but also the wider public who are increasingly becoming more conscious of the kind of organisations they’d like to be associated with both as consumers and employees. 

Here are three reports I’d like companies to publish, because they are (1) critical to long term employability and well-being and (2) deeply personal to me.  

1. The Burnout Report

This one is the easiest to begin with because Fast Company released an article making a case for the report along with step by step guidance on how. There are many reasons a report like this is critical, especially now. 

Burnout is visible at the workplace now more than ever. I wouldn’t go as far to say that it is on the rise because historically, burnout has been a taboo topic and has begun to find acceptability only in the recent past. If the last few generations were burnt out, they neither had the luxury of being able to label the feeling nor could they talk about it without the fear of victimisation. Now that we have the label and increased acceptability to talk about the topic, it is hard to ignore that workers around the world are likely unprecedentedly stressed. On the other hand, organisations are passing ‘mandates’ such as those demanding return to the office coupled with an increased demand to do more with less. This is further aggravating the issue. Empathy and understanding that were key words during the pandemic are fast fading from the corporate vocabulary. 

Publishing a burnout report not only forces executives to come to terms with the reality of burnout that they may be responsible for but also pushes them to act. Even the most foolish CEO likely knows that running an organisation with burnt out employees is a failing strategy. Yet, some organisations may choose to be high burnout companies by design. They may offer high growth, work satisfaction and adrenaline rushes instead. But I’d like to know just what kind of environment I am stepping into when I sign the employment contract. As Samu Hällfors writes in his Fast Company article - in the future, the most innovative companies will no longer report on just annual profits and losses, or greenhouse gas emissions. They will also publicly disclose general wellness markers, like stress levels. While it may not be the surest way to end the gnarly problem of workplace burnout and I definitely think we need a better way to track; once the report is mandated, I am sure innumerable innovations on measuring burnout will soon appear. 

2. The AI Readiness Report

It won’t be long before this report is made mandatory by governments, if not by other stakeholders. Machine learning and artificial intelligence at the workplace is not new. However, with GenAI entering the fray and rapid adoption, AI finds itself amidst new found attention from every quarter. Given the disproportionate impact AI can have, it is time for organisations to start taking public accountability by reporting not just compliance against the upcoming AI act but also in how and where they use advanced technologies especially AI. In particular, what provisions outside of defined guardrails are in place for safety, and which roles are in line to be most impacted. Per International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s Staff Discussion Note Gen-AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work; almost 40% of employment globally is exposed to AI, which rises to 60% in advanced economies. Among workers, those that are college-educated and women are more exposed to AI, but also more likely to reap the benefits, while strong productivity gains could boost growth and wages.

A strong readiness report, apart from the above, should mention source of talent, and how the organisation plans to proactively address any adverse impact to jobs. For a reader like me, I would look to these reports to assess which organisations are taking the route of investing in talent vs making them redundant. I’d also look to these reports for ideas that I can implement in my own organisation. First movers have the opportunity to influence both the landscape and the sentiment towards AI and act as leaders in this space; and what better way to do so than via a public facing AI readiness report? 

3. The everything report and metric

The existence of over ten different reports guarantees one thing – that only the most motivated will pull out the time to read it. In reality, these reports individually demand high cognitive reserve and all put together, while good, have limited use. After all, how many reports are you really going to sift through? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone created a universal index that gives a single performance score across the many metrics and a single report that combines the information all reports individually hold while ensuring the information is presented in a way that a third grader could process? While there are snail-paced attempts to move in this direction, a little speed would be much appreciated. (Psstt…a great business idea right here) 

For now, let’s call this futuristic ideal the everything report. This report does two things really well:

It consolidates all basics such as financials and ESG to satisfy the stock exchange but also includes data on gender pay gap, burnout, stress, AI usage and the dozen other metrics that the government and stakeholders would like to know into a single weighted average i.e. a single universally accepted score. It shares the data, the why behind the data and future plans to improve performance against the scores. 

It focuses on readability and ease of comprehension such that a ten-year-old would understand what the report is conveying. For good measure, maybe throw in a metric on how effective the report is i.e. how many people read it (can be measured for online views), the most popular metric within the report, feedback and comments received on readability and comprehension ease. 

As outrageous as the idea may currently appear, the true value of a report lies in how many individuals read it. High engagement with a report is one measure of the quality of the report. The worst report (also in terms of return on investment) is one that has never been read. If every report came with success measures of report quality, using the aforementioned adage of what gets measured, gets driven, the quality of reports would only increase every year and wouldn’t that be a wonderful world to live in?

There you go. These are the three reports I’d like to see in 2024. As time passes, I am sure I’ll find more to add to the list. Until then, how many reports do you think an organisation should publish every year? And which ones have I missed?

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Topics: Strategic HR

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