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A Beginner’s Guide: What Are Workday Calculated Fields?

by | Feb 6, 2019

Home » Workday » A Beginner’s Guide: What Are Workday Calculated Fields?

There’s no question that Workday is an incredibly powerful tool for Financials, HCM, and more. What you do need to ask yourself, however, is whether you’re getting the most out of it, especially when it comes to reporting. You may have read our 5-Minute Guide to Workday Reporting (and if you haven’t, you really should), but now it’s time to kick things up a notch by briefing you on the power of Workday calculated fields. They really are key to getting the most out of Workday’s reports and integrations. Here’s what you need to know about them.

What are Calculated Fields?

Calculated fields, also known as “Calc fields” or “CF,” are how Workday refers to programming variables/database record buffers, and they’re useful in reports and integrations. Here’s a closer look at a few different types of calculated fields.

  • Calculated fields can be Workday-delivered, such as “Today” or “True” (which would be similar to the Excel functions TODAY and TRUE).
  • Calculated fields can be constants, like the string “EXEMPT” and “NON-EXEMPT,” where the database value is actually a Boolean true/false field but the report specs call for the words representing something (such as a job’s exempt status) to be spelled out. Another example would be constants like “Sunday”, “Monday”, and so forth, which would be derived from an original value of the day of the week, (i.e. a number from 1 to 7), instead of a Boolean true/false variable. Calculated fields are a way to let the report developer turn a “7” into the string “Saturday”, or (in multiple steps) turn the today’s date into a string that reads “Mon. July 20, 2018”.
  • Calculated fields can be arithmetic expressions like “2 x <Base Salary>”. This would be useful in a situation where someone needed to answer the question, “If this employee died today, how much would their estate be owed from the insurance carrier?” The calculated field “2 x <Base Salary>” would first find the employee’s annualized compensation and then multiply that base salary by two to find the basic insurance “covered amount” as an answer.
  • Calculated fields can be dates or date calculations. If, for example, there is a new hire probationary period of 30 days (or 60, or 90…), then the calculated field would be “Hire Date Plus <n>”, where <n> is itself a calculated field representing the number appropriate number (30, 60, etc.). This would allow us to see when the new hire’s probationary period ends.

Oftentimes, calculated fields are built up of other calculated fields. For instance, in our date calculation example, the solution involved daisy-chaining two CFs together to get an answer, and it’s not uncommon for a solution to string together four or more CFs.

All in all, Workday offers nearly two dozen built-in functions that can be used to do numeric (math), date, and text (string) manipulation; Boolean logic; or CASE statements. If you think there might be a way to improve your report with a calculated field, you’re probably right.

Calculated Fields and Instances

Some calculated fields are buffers of database records (and Workday calls these “instances” of an object). One common use of an instance CF is to get the same data but for a different date. For example, let’s say you wanted a report that would tell you what the salary of each employee was on the last day of last year. This might lead to the question, “How have salary changes in the past year affected the company’s total obligation for life insurance premiums?”

Another example would be the question, “What are the benefit elections in effect now so I can compare them to the elections that will be effective in the future on January 1st when Open Enrollment Elections kick in?” which leads to “How many employees will be moving from PPO to a High Deductible/HSA on that day?” These would all be situations in which using instances would be beneficial.

This has been a quick overview of the different types of calculated fields available in Workday, but if you’d really like to learn more about how they can add a little nitrous to your business engine, our senior-level Workday consultants are the experts you need in your metaphorical pit crew.

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