Nearly three-quarters of European employers (69%) trust the HR department to provide HR data-based insights and appreciate the added value these can bring.

This is according to new research surveying both HR and non-HR business decision makers, from leading HR and payroll provider SD Worx. The three biggest business areas where HR data-based insights can have impact are: employee costs (45%), employee satisfaction & engagement (45%) and productivity (42%). The top-3 potential barriers for embracing HR data-based insights are: lack of communication between HR & the wider business (29%), costs associated with it (27%) and internal structures limiting innovations (27%).  

In addition, 53% of the respondents believe trust by non-HR decision makers in applying HR data-based insights has improved over the last 2 years and 56% expect this to improve further over the next 2 years.   

Dashboards, scorecards and surveys prove most popular use of HR data insights in the UK 

By using data-driven insights and foresight, organisations can strengthen their human capital and build a sustainable business. When looking at what data businesses are already applying within HR,  

the UK comes out top in terms of both HR and non-HR decision makers making use of dashboards and scorecards (60%) as well as applying surveys (61%). The UK also ranks second (64%) for applying benchmarks, coming just behind the Netherlands (65%). When compared to other elements of HR where data is applied, the UK is least likely to apply data-driven insights in the use of predictions, with only 25% of respondents choosing this, though they use it the most compared to the other countries, the next closest being Belgium at 20% use.  


Business development is most impacted by HR data insights in the UK 

In terms of the business areas where HR data-based insights can make the biggest impact, the UK ranks highest in terms of both HR and non-HR decision makers using data for development (50%) which is 23% more than respondents in Germany and 25% more than those in France. After Belgium, the UK also ranked joint second with France, (46%) for using insights to improve employee satisfaction and engagement.   


There is certainly a healthy demand for HR data-based insights, with 43% of the HR decision makers across the countries surveyed in Europe, revealing they are asked for insights of this type at least once a week. The number one reason for these requests relates to employee absenteeism (mentioned by 44% of respondents), followed by employee costs (40%) and productivity (40%). This is evidence that business decision makers are seeing the value in receiving HR data and actively requesting it.  

The research also found that business decision makers across Europe, believe the HR department are comfortable with handling and analysing data (69%). 59% believe technology infrastructure has improved to better support the deployment of HR data-based insights. Whilst, approximately two out of three of all respondents (both HR and non-HR decision makers) think the right skills and competencies to embrace data-based insights are currently available in their HR department. The two most important skills that need further development when it comes to HR data-based insights are: analysing skills (40%) and improving change management skills (34%).  In 53% of the cases, this will be solved through extra training opportunities.  

Charles Knox, Director of Product & Solutions at SD Worx UK said: 

This research is promising because it shows the evolution of the HR department. We’ve gone from talking about the value of HR data and the need for it to have more of a prevalent position within the rest of a business, to witnessing business departments seeing the benefits of the data and using it to help inform decisions within their own departments. We can only expect that to grow over the following years as both technology and internal knowledge gets better.” 

SNCB, the Belgian Railways, are making full use of HR data to increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

Petra Blanckaert, Head of Human Resources & CEO Office at SNCB, explains how the company is taking the lead in this area:

We require a great deal of operational effort from our workforce in our pursuit of punctuality, customer satisfaction and so on. With this in mind, we are keen to invest in their satisfaction and well-being. This is why at the beginning of this year, we queried our 18,000 employees about their satisfaction, engagement and culture. We used an extensive questionnaire to identify points for improvement. This HR data has helped us concentrate on what matters to the majority of our employees, ensuring that our approach receives broad support. The HR data is helping us to prioritise properly and to not become sidetracked by eye-catching outliers.”

Blanckaert continues,

Analysing the results helps us to flesh out our participatory approach in which we draw up action plans in work groups.  The HR data enables us to provide specific feedback regarding the results to all our employees – the level of detail and reliability allow for increased employee recognition and involvement.”