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Quality of workforce reporting variable

Stability – how stable and secure the current workforce is – was a particularly neglected area

The quality of workforce reporting is highly variable between organisations, according to research from the PLSA.

For The Hidden Talent: What Do Companies’ Annual Reports Tell Us About Their Workers? Lancaster University Management School analysed the most recent annual reports of the FTSE 100 (as of 1 June 2017).

The researchers found that 64% of companies provided some meaningful narrative commentary on the composition of their workforce (usually in relation to different types of diversity), but only 4% of companies supplied a breakdown of their workforce by full-time and part-time workers. Just 7% provided data or policies on use of agency staff.

Stability – defined by the researchers as how stable and secure the current workforce is – was a particularly neglected area. Just 10% of companies provide any meaningful narrative commentary on this subject, and only 18% give any figures on staff turnover.

On the other hand, all companies provided data on gender diversity at board level. Most (99%) also did so for management-level employees and the overall workforce (99%). But only 15% supplied details of the ethnic diversity of their workforce.

Steve Young, lead author of the report and professor of finance and accounting at Lancaster University Management School, said there is still a long way to go for some organisations when it comes to reporting on their people.

“It is growing increasingly important for investors to get a more detailed picture of the organisations they invest in,” he said. “It is intuitive that satisfied, motivated and supported employees will be more committed to delivering organisational success – so workforce data can be indicative of a business’ stability.

“Our report highlights some good practice but also shows real discrepancies in the quality of workforce reporting right across the FTSE 100. Only 55 companies were judged to have fully integrated workforce issues into their reporting, which shows how far some still have to go.”

Luke Hildyard, policy lead for stewardship and corporate governance at the PLSA, encouraged firms to report more thoroughly. “The public interest in issues like precarious working and economic productivity, and the government’s proposed corporate governance reforms giving workers and other stakeholders more say in reporting, demonstrate an urgent need for better disclosure about employment models and working practices,” he said.

“We encourage both companies and investors to engage with initiatives designed to promote better reporting; leading to better outcomes for companies, investors and workers alike.”