Just under three-quarters of UK CEOs state that HR analytics were key to enabling strategic decision-making. 

New research by SD Worx, a payroll and HR services provider, has shown the importance of people analytics within organisations.

Just under three-quarters (74 per cent) of CEOs from the UK have stated that people analytics was imperative to making strategic decisions.

This research shows the transformation of how data is used within HR. Traditionally, it has been utilised to make hiring decisions, increase employee performance and find better candidates for roles in addition to retaining these employees once they are in these jobs.

However, this suggests data is now also allowing businesses to make critical decisions which revolve around business continuity and employee safety.

This has been shown by almost eight out of 10 businesses (77 per cent) reporting that their leaders have been increasingly requesting people analytics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, being able to navigate and provide this data has proved a difficult task for HR teams. Only 30 per cent of HR leaders felt that this information was easy to find whilst the remaining 70 per cent found this demand difficult.

A similar number of organisations (30 per cent) actually found their technology has held them back from carrying out effective workforce planning during this time. Almost half of all organisations (43 per cent) stated that their current HR and pay systems coped badly during this pandemic.

Cathy Geerts, Chief Human Resources Officer at SD Worx, said: 

In times of uncertainty, getting the basics right is key. And “people data” is one of the fundamental assets to inform executive decision-making. For that, the information must be right.

Where HR systems are not capable of providing the data required quickly or in an easy to use format, business performance can suffer. In fact, the numbers tell us the story of a decade-long underinvestment in people systems and technology.

The pandemic-related turmoil has illustrated that people data can tell a compelling story, it can grab leaders’ attention and more importantly, drive effective and meaningful change. Once that vital information is in their hands, business leaders must use empathy and transparency to help their companies weather the storm.

Martina Ruiß, Head of HR at Personio, a HR software company, said:

With our latest research revealing that 71 per cent of HR managers have struggled to access data or analytics during the pandemic, it’s clear the HR function is still lacking the data it needs to make smarter decisions. And without this, HR professionals are working blind.

Amid so much change and upheaval, and with businesses having to make tough and complex decisions now and over the next 12 months, good data and analytics will be vital for supporting successful HR strategies. During this rocky period, HR professionals need to keep an eye on key metrics, such as productivity, engagement, wellbeing, absence rate (especially sick rate), and company confidence.

Caroline Payne, Head of Customer Advisory at SAS UK & Ireland, an analytics and software solutions company, said:

A central decision hub can assess employee behaviours and patterns on multiple levels to provide a unified view throughout their employment lifecycle. By looking at a huge variety of internal and external data (such as the existing performance of the team, and the average salaries for a particular role respectively) it’s entirely possible to spot the triggers which lead to dissatisfaction.

To help manage this volume of data, AI and machine learning can be trained to spot problematic combinations of factors, and produce insights that could mitigate a resignation. From here, HR can work with business unit leaders to devise an appropriate plan – for example, if a lack of work-life balance is the driving force, then the plan needs to decrease the individual’s responsibilities or bring in new team members to share the load.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.