UK HR teams appear to lag behind other business departments in adopting analytics.

Almost three quarters (73%) of HR professionals believe that analytics software can help them to enhance strategic decision making within their organisation but 83 percent do not currently have access to this technology. These are the findings of research carried out by Source for Consulting in partnership with business applications and service provider, Advanced Business Solutions.

The report is based on a survey of executives in a variety of roles from 297 UK mid and small-sized organisations, commissioned to determine how companies are using analytics and examine current levels of understanding.

International organisations such as Credit Suisse and Walmart are using analytics solutions to improve employee engagement and better link HR trends to business outcomes by analysing communication patterns, performance reviews and personality tests. However despite only one percent of respondents feeling they should be doing less with analytics, UK HR teams appear to lag behind other business departments in adopting the technology.

Advanced’s survey reveals that just 17 percent of HR professionals are presently using analytics software. This figure is considerably lower compared with Marketing (48%), Strategic decision making (44%), Finance (38%), Operations (37%) and employees who work in customer-facing functions (37%). HR staff may also struggle to exploit potential opportunities, with 68% admitting that they have yet to consider how they could use analytics within their department.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director, Advanced Business Solutions (Commercial division), says, “Businesses are increasingly being driven by data so it is worrying that many HR managers still rely on spreadsheets instead of using analytics software to predict likely patterns of behaviour.

“Without the right technology in place, HR departments will struggle to effectively nurture the talent of employees and obtain vital information, which can be transformed into actionable insight to help their company obtain a competitive edge.”

The research also highlights that HR has the least understanding of the six business departments surveyed. 70 percent of HR professionals said they knew the difference between analytics and business intelligence systems compared to 30 percent who stated they were unsure. Employees who work in operations claimed to have the greatest understanding (91%), closely followed by IT (89%).

The respondents put forward a number of suggestions as to why organisations should invest in analytics. 86 percent felt the main benefit would be to make better informed decisions, followed by the need to improve the understanding of why things have happened and operational efficiency (both 69%). Only eight percent reasoned that their business should implement an analytics solution ‘because other organisations are investing’.

Fowler comments, “While business intelligence seeks out information through asking questions and reporting back, analytics assists organisations to access historical data to identify trends, provide explanation and model what might happen in the future.

“Leading analytics software is also key to ensuring that HR can continue to make a telling and profitable contribution within a business. It can help to spot early signs as to whether an employee could be thinking of leaving and recommend pre-emptive action, helping to increase retention levels which is critical to maintaining long-term growth.”