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Headcount Data: Evaluate and Improve Company Performance


Updated on Mar 30, 2023
Published on Mar 30, 2023
headcount data

Headcount data is required to write headcount reports which categorize employees based on different aspects and provide insights to improve the efficiency of your business.

The total number of employees working for a company during a particular period of time is understood to be one of the most assessed metrics that indicate a company’s success. At first glance, this data source doesn’t seem very complicated. After all, headcount data suggests that it only includes quantitative information such as counting the number of people working for a particular company. However, this is not the case.

Headcount data includes a wide variety of demographic and qualitative information surrounding employees.

What is headcount data? 

Headcount data can be understood in two ways: as external or internal data.

External data simply shows the change of employee headcount over time, thus indicating how well a company is performing. These insights are useful for investors or those performing market research.

Internal data, on the other hand, can include additional demographic information, such as employment status, job title, gender, and age. A study by Bersin by Deloitte found that companies using data analytics in their recruitment process are 2-3 times more likely to improve their recruiting efforts and performance.

Headcount data is utilized in headcount reporting and workforce planning, providing valuable insights about companies from internal and external perspectives. It is important to note, due to the confidentiality needed to properly manage such qualitative details about individual employees, headcount data must be handled responsibly during both internal and external reporting. 

External headcount data shows the change of employee headcount over time, whereas internal headcount data consists of demographic employee information.

Top benefits of headcount data

Workforce data is useful not only for internal business purposes but for other companies and investors as well. Here are some of the benefits of using external and internal headcount information.

Lead generation

The company’s size measured by employed workers is one of the key firmographic metrics that help categorize organizations. Thus, B2B companies can use it to determine whether the company is a valuable lead for them when targeting firms of a particular size. When this type of information is put together with additional company data, the result is a well-rounded lead profile.

Additionally, as another source of information surrounding a particular company, headcount data can enhance sales intelligence by improving, informing, and preparing business offers. Knowing the number of people employed by the firm and their characteristics will give the sales personnel a better idea of the company’s business needs.

Furthermore, it may help to judge how much potential value there is in the firm if they were to become a client and prioritize accordingly.

Competitive intelligence

Another way to track and measure a company’s success is to compare employee count and quality with its competitors.


For instance, as an investor, you could compare several companies in terms of employee count growth. It allows you to see the potential longevity of the business. You can perform headcount trend analysis and decide which company is worth your attention the most.

In this case, external headcount data is used to provide headcount projections and track employee count over time. It's a quantitative approach where you compare the number of people employed in several companies and observe the growth or decline of a business, indicating investment signals.

HR leaders

As an HR professional, you can combine headcount data with employee data and enhance talent sourcing strategies as well as the overall HR function strategy. In this case, internal headcount data is used to perform demographic reporting and analyze isolated headcount metrics such as job title, status, salary, gender, and race among others. These types of reports are also known as traditional headcount reports.

As far as competition is concerned, 43% of HR professionals cite “competition from other employers” as the top reason for the difficulty in finding talent. To tackle that, you can leverage headcount and employee data to see how many employees a company has and what fields the professionals work in.

As a result, you gain baseline information of how competitors distribute their workforce for maximum efficiency. With that information, you can build theoretical models of how to improve efficiency even further and improve your HR strategy.

Then, as a business, you can implement more sophisticated financial planning and potentially reduce labor costs to reach predefined business objectives.

Investing insights

Investors can also find value in headcount data as changes in a firm’s workforce size provide a lot of insights into its growth trends. Additionally, various characteristics of a company’s employees, such as surplus or shortage of a particular type of employee, may indicate potential issues within a company, informing investment insights. Further, investors can enhance investment insights by leveraging headcount data when applied to various data-driven investment practices (i.e., predictive analytics).

headcount data benefits

Employee headcount report

In its most basic form, a headcount report is exactly what it seems – a report (information) about the entire personnel working for the organization at a given time. However, two significant considerations make such reporting more complex and consequently more crucial than realized at first glance.

Three types of headcount reports

The first aspect that makes headcount reporting more complex is the standard by which employee count is calculated:

  • Full-time employees. In this case, a headcount report only consists of those people who work enough hours per week at a company to be considered full-time employees.
  • Full-time and part-time employees. Applying this standard, you add the part-time employees to the overall headcount report.
  • Full-time, part-time employees, plus contractors. If you decide to choose this option, you would need to add temporary workers to your headcount reports.

If there is a lack of cooperation between HR departments, the employee headcount report could vary greatly based on the selected standard. The different headcount numbers could result in a frustrated executive who is only satisfied with one accurate number.

When an HR executive presents a headcount report that does not match with other calculations, it could set off a heated discussion between colleagues, deliberating why the numbers do not match.

Back in the 90s, when HR departments across industries rebranded themselves to be valued as more than just additional costs, there was a running joke among CEOs that if you asked three different HR officers for a headcount, you would get three different numbers.

Even now headcount reconciliation (making the headcount numbers consistent) remains a challenge if the process is not automated.

Automation allows the following benefits:

  • Managing roles
  • Managing both employees and contractors
  • Configuring grades, salaries, and vacation days among others

It mitigates manual work and check-ins between departments and instead provides accurate numbers according to set parameters.

stairs representing growth

Contents of a headcount report

The second aspect is that there are multiple sources for employee data within the company. This means that the headcount report includes various information about the employees that may come from different company sources, for example, with part of the information coming from the finance department. The data in the report usually includes the following data types:

  • Job title and position
  • Job-status
  • Salary
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Veteran status
  • Exemption status

All these metrics directly impact a variety of business outcomes. For example, exemption status relates directly to budgets, legal, and financial obligations towards the employees, while sex and race are fundamental in complying with inclusion and diversity policies. And, of course, all the data is fundamental for future workforce planning.

This makes it crucial to choose a singular definition of a worker and unify the system of tracking data for headcount reporting. In addition, such a company-wide data-driven system would remove issues that arise from departments each working on their own when accounting for their human resources.

The challenges of analyzing headcount for recruiters

Here are some common challenges recruiters face when analyzing headcount:

  • Lack of documentation. In order to analyze and make decisions related to headcount, this information needs to be accessible and documented well across the organization. Not having easy access to all information or accurate information doesn't allow recruiters to extract correct information and plan accordingly.
  • Lack of clarity about goals. Headcount is just one component of workforce analysis, but it's an important one. Having a clear picture of a company's future plans for headcount growth will make it easier to gather, combine, and extract needed insights from this information in alignment with these goals.
  • Lack of consistency in employee classification. As mentioned above in this article, it's necessary to define what workers will be included in the headcount data of the organization. What's more, this definition should be shared across the organization.

How to conduct an effective headcount analysis?

To avoid the challenges above, there are some simple yet effective and important steps that make the headcount analysis more effective. First of all, define the goals of the analysis and, depending on these goals, include other relevant metrics, for example, employee turnover or employee attrition rates.

Some of the key dimensions of data quality, in general, are accuracy and completeness. So, as with any other data, it’s important to make sure that headcount data is documented and managed responsibly, meaning that all stakeholders report and enter this data correctly and in a unified format.

Having a dedicated dashboard or another similar tool for managing this data will make this process easier, the information more accessible, and will reduce the likelihood of human errors.

It's crucial to select a standard by which most headcount reports, if not all, will be written and avoiding headcount disputes.

Where to find headcount datasets?

Since headcount information is useful for B2B companies and investors, data providers are naturally aiming to satisfy the demand. Therefore, various public web B2B data providers gather such information through available online sources and add it to their B2B company datasets.

Data vendors, such as Coresignal, provide a wide variety of high-quality public web data, including headcount and other crucial B2B data, such as company name, industry, revenue, and location. As far as historical headcount data is concerned, find the example below of how you can leverage our data to enhance your investment intelligence.

How to gather insights with Coresignal's data?

NVIDIA vs AMD employee count over time

In this graph, you can see the employee count trend in NVIDIA and AMD companies.

The key takeaways would be that both companies grew significantly in size over the past two years. However, it's important to note that both of these companies started 2020 relatively close to each other, but nearing the end of 2020, NVIDIA managed to stimulate growth more effectively than AMD and continued to do so.

They started with a difference of roughly 700 employees in 2020, but by the beginning of 2022, NVIDIA has accumulated a difference of 3,000 employees in comparison to AMD. It signals that NVIDIA is more successful in terms of attracting new employees and therefore could be a better investment opportunity than AMD.

However, keep in mind that it's only one aspect of comparison and on its own, it does not convey enough actionable information. In order to build a full picture of a company, you need to consider other factors such as revenue generation, firmographic information, expansion strategies, company culture, and more.

But no words are as assuring as checking out for yourself. Thus feel free to contact our data experts.

How to enrich your headcount data?

More than a headcount number is required to extract actionable insights. Enriching headcount data with job posting data, employee data, or review data will allow for more in-depth analysis. Just like an internal headcount analysis, without context surrounding it, this data can be just a number.

So, suppose you’re using headcount data to determine how fast or how successfully a company is performing. In that case, it’s necessary to support it with other indicators that can be extracted from external sources, such as job data. For example, in this case, it would be useful to see how the company was expanding its teams historically and how it is growing right now.

Headcount FTE analysis

One of the ways to unify headcount reporting within the firm is by employing full-time headcount equivalent (FTE) analysis. Employee FTE analysis involves calculating hours worked rather than simply counting full-time workers. This way, a single measure for all types of workers can be set by comparing it to the hours a full-time employee in the company would work in a week.

For example, if a company equates full-time with working 40 hours per week, an employee who works 20 hours would measure as 0.5 FTE. Thus, understanding workers by calculating and analyzing their FTEs allows companies to sidestep all the issues and confusion that may arise in reporting and workforce planning.

However, strictly speaking, headcount FTE is not reporting but analysis. Meaning its overarching goal is to provide insights into how working hours are used in the company over periods of time and in different projects. These insights, of course, are valuable information to executives and managers looking to improve efficiency.

FTE analysis provides valuable insights that allow executives and managers improve efficiency.

Wrapping up

Ultimately, information regarding a company’s employees is more complicated than it seems. Likewise, analyzing headcount data offers various benefits for businesses and investors, both internally and externally. It is clear that a data-driven headcount reporting system advances business goals, and its absence hinders them.

For example, data surrounding the employees of B2B companies can enhance business intelligence, and headcount data offers many insights that can boost investment intelligence.