Company Employee Data Using Different Databases
How many employees work for a company?
This would appear to be a simple question. But perhaps not…
Although the company in question will have a more exacting answer as to values at any particular point in time, this would be considered commercially sensitive information. Therefore, values are typically made available at a single point in time, such as the end of the company’s reporting period. This is then accessible via a number of business databases.
Unfortunately, if you look in different databases, you tend to get different answers – for example, looking at Tesco PLC, which is a publicly quoted UK company, a number of values are specified depending on the database consulted:
This shows 386,086 employees and helpfully specifies a date point of 28 February 2015, but displayed in US date format [02/28/15]. This reflects Tesco’s reporting period dates – essentially the start of March to the end of February.
This gives a different value [506,984] but specifies the same date – the end of the reporting period.
Datastream (Thomson Reuters)
The datatype is ‘WC07011 – Employees’ and the definition notes: Employees represents the number of both full time and part time employees of the company. It excludes: Seasonal employees, Emergency employees. Footnotes: D. Average employees. This gives a value of 506,984.
This specifies a value of 386,086.
When searching for Tesco PLC, the ‘Number of Employees’ is stated as: 517,802.
Company Annual Report
Perhaps one way to obtain clarity is to look in the ‘Tesco Annual Report and Financial Statements 2015’, accessible through Thomson Research or PI Navigator databases, for example.
Page 20, shows the following breakdown, for a total of 517,802 (220,257 + 297,545).
If you were to stop at this point in the Annual Report, you would miss further details. Hence, on page 100, there are additional details:
This helps to show which values the various databases have selected. Thus, Capital IQ has used the combined values [220,257 + 297,545 = 517,802] from page 20 of the Annual Report, in contrast to the other databases.
Thomson ONE.com/Datastream have used the ‘Average Number of Employees’ measure [506,984] and Bloomberg/Fame have used the ‘Average Number of Full-Time Equivalents’ [386,086] for 2015 – that is, the end of the reporting period, specifically 28 February 2015.
The lesson to be drawn when using data from a particular database – always quote the source, to ensure clarity and remove uncertainty. In the case of Employee data, the company’s Annual Report is the ultimate source.
However, the difference in total values between page 20 [517,802 (220,257 + 297,545)] and those quoted on page 100 [506,984 and 386,086] is a mystery. Specifying a page number in your reference is therefore recommended!
Bloomberg Professional, Datastream, Thomson ONE.com, Thomson Research, Fame and Capital IQ are databases available to current students and staff of The University of Manchester.