International research conducted by SD Worx reveals that up to 87 per cent of business leaders are now asking their HR teams for employee payroll data to inform business decisions.

The survey was undertaken among over 1,500 respondents from nine European markets by SD Worx, a leading provider of global Payroll and HR services. The research highlights that in the age of analytics, many organisations are now embracing the power of payroll, historically seen as an administration function. In the UK, 89 per cent of the respondents say that payroll and HR data is used in their company to inform business decisions. The Netherlands comes top of the list (94 per cent), with Ireland second (93 per cent), whilst companies in Austria (80 per cent) are least likely to use HR and payroll data in their business decision making.

d:Across Europe organisations were most likely (52 per cent) to feel that payroll and HR data can help inform employee appraisals. In France 66 per cent saw the potential, followed closely by Germany (61 per cent) and Austria (57 per cent). In Britain 43 per cent recognised value in this area.

In general just under half (47 per cent) of respondents felt payroll can inform business leaders on performance, retention, and churn of employees. Ireland (54 per cent) came first across Europe, followed by Austria (53 per cent), the UK (52 per cent) and France (49 per cent).

Challenges to gather data

Despite the fact that 89 per cent of British respondents say that payroll data is used in their company to inform business decisions 42 per cent of them find it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to provide this HR and payroll data. When it comes to international payroll, the biggest challenges that UK businesses cited were compliance (51 per cent) and multiple systems (42 per cent), followed by confusing data (26 per cent). Although it’s positive news for HR and payroll professionals that powerful data is now elevating the function within the business, it’s still clear that they face technology challenges.

Blockchain and HR

The survey also exposed views on upcoming technology in the HR and payroll industry, with 66 per cent of respondents in the UK believing that blockchain will be either important or critical in the industry. Similarly, 68 per cent predict that artificial intelligence and automation will be either important or critical for HR and payroll professionals, highlighting the importance of technology in the HR and payroll industry.

Concrete example of Roche Diagnostics Belgium

“We are only at the start of HR analytics, but HR can be at the wheel for ‘Strategic workforce planning’,” says Christophe Becquart, HR Director of Roche Diagnostics Belgium. He identifies several advantages and concrete ways of contributing to the business: “HR carries out analyses of absenteeism and a biennial engagement survey, which provides signposts for following up on any actions needed. They can observe how long employees stay in the same position. Team managers can better monitor and discuss the need for mobility. And the data regarding the mobility provides impetus for them to anticipate career development in a timely way and apply for new capacity. Another example: by looking at the ‘holiday running ratio’, the rate at which vacation days are taken, we can help avoid employees waiting too long and risk losing their work-life balance.” His goal is clear: “Our HR analytics provide input for the discussions with the business team leaders, providing the necessary manpower more quickly or help them to budget.”

Jeremy Campbell, Chief Commercial Officer at SD Worx, commented:

“This survey highlights what we have known for a long time, that HR and payroll data has a huge part to play in shaping strategic business decisions at the highest levels. The time for static, fragmented and unreliable data is long gone. Technology and data driven analytics now give HR leaders a real insight into the fabric of their organisation, enabling them to draw powerful fact based conclusions and drive well informed strategic decisions.”

You can view the full survey here.