The disruption of the pandemic has realized emphasized how important HR is to business success.
HR played a central role in the shift to remote working, and particularly trying to transition company culture into a virtual-only environment.
As a result, a survey of 500 HR and business leaders in the US, UK, Canada and Australia by Sage found that 81% of the C Suite believe that HR is on the same page about business priorities as other departments.
While this is promising, the research found that the C Suite wants HR to lead more.
59% of business leaders surveyed said that HR was not playing a leading role across business priorities. In addition, 62% noted that HR was failing to lead on operational excellence, 55% said the same for skills, learning and development, and 54% for company culture.
Interestingly, HR agrees that they need to lead more. 65% noted they were failing to lead on operational excellence, 52% acknowledged issues with leading on skills and 53% said the same for company culture.
HR attributed this to the fact that they were too focused on admin (40%) , but 59% did say they felt like they were having a more influential leadership role in the business than before.
Sage vice-president of people Paul Burrin commented: “An opportunity exists for HR to play a stronger leadership role across the organization.
“Automation and digital transformation can free HR teams from manual administration to make higher value contributions to the business.”
Data, analytics and HR
On the topic of digital transformation, Sage’s report also found that HR data and analytics are now widely available across the business with 94% of business leaders saying they had access to people data.
However, HR and businesses in general are struggling to turn this data into insights.
38% of C Suite leaders told Sage that they were not satisfied with HR’s ability to provide insights and recommendations based on this data. As a result, 60% of business leaders said not using data to drive decision making.
HR agrees, with 70% noting that they are not providing leading metrics that are forward looking and 62% said they were not able to use data to spot trends or make business predictions.
Sage principal people scientist Sarah Andresen noted: “HR is starting to play a bigger role in providing insights that can help a business achieve its goals.
“This is welcome news, yet there is much more work to do.
“With the right investment, HR teams can go beyond just gathering and sharing, to interpret data in meaningful ways that will prove invaluable for the C Suite – and the wider business.”
Importance of HR tech to pandemic resilience
Along similar lines, there is acknowledgment that while HR tech has been invaluable in the pandemic and the shift to remote working, more investment is needed into new tools to ensure these tools are fit for the future of work.
A whopping 90% of business leaders saw tech as an enabler and 80% said that it helped the business in the past year.
HR agrees with 88% seeing it as an enabler, 81% saying they wouldn’t have been able to operate in the pandemic without cloud tools and 83% noting that it had enabled flexibility during the pandemic in response to changing circumstances.
But 63% of HR leaders say that the current systems are not future proofed.
Thankfully, Sage found that business leaders at C Suite level are more than happy to invest in HR tech and actually 56% said they wanted to be more involved in HR tech buying decisions.
Therefore, the report concludes: “Both groups are keen to invest more to stay up to date, and maintain organizational resilience in an uncertain future.
“HR now has an incredible opportunity to lead the investment into new integrated technologies, with the backing of other leaders, which will in turn enable them to share the forward-looking People data they need.”