Need to know: company performance

What was the overall profit after tax for the whole company?

Understanding the profit and loss of your company is in everybody’s interest to know, regardless of their role.

Whether the company is on target for its profit or has done better or worse than expected will have an impact on its receptivity HR initiatives. So understanding where the company sits in terms of profit is an important tool for HR to use when coming up with new ideas.

You need to be able to discuss the profitability of the company with your internal clients, but you should also get to know and understand the reasons behind the state of the company’s finances, as this can form the basis of the strategic conversations you will want to have. This knowledge and understanding can be a valuable jumping-off point for proactive suggestions from a good HR person.

The overall profit after tax is easy to discover in publicly quoted companies but may be trickier to find out in privately held companies. For publicly quoted companies, it will be in the year-end results and is likely to be on the company’s website.

It is also important, however, to get an indication of the company’s performance ahead of the publication of the final results, and if you are talking to the right people – such as finance people, business managers, your internal clients and so on – then you are likely to be able to access this, often several months before the audited reports come out.

Because this information is critical to everyone in the company, HR needs to understand not just the facts and figures but how they are being communicated to staff. Responsibility for this job varies but as it often falls within the HR remit, it’s important to ensure that any information and its implications are being communicated clearly and effectively.

This task can also be a useful opportunity to ensure every employee understands what is driving the business’s performance and strategy. If this is not the case, it might be your chance to suggest what the company could be doing better. Take charge of the situation and use the opportunity to demonstrate another way in which HR can have a positive impact.

Jan Hills

Director, HR with Guts

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