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HR failing to use data to make decisions

HR professionals believe the need for data is increasing, but struggle to gain strategic insight from it

The majority of UK HR leaders believe all people decisions should be based on data, but only a third make decisions this way, according to research from Fairsail.

Only 34% of those polled in The use of people science in fast growth companies report said they use data to make decisions, despite 79% stating they thought they should.

Almost all (92%) respondents said that they struggle to gain strategic insight from people data. Less than half (45%) said they could use their data to identify top or bottom performers, and only 40% to show the overall employee turnover rate.

The technology itself is a barrier for some. Four in 10 (40%) struggle because data is located in too many systems, 30% find cultural resistance to sharing data in their firms slows them down, and 28% don’t have the appropriate technology to analyse people data.

Despite this, many respondents believe the need for data will increase; 65% said they believe that HR teams will include people scientists within the next five years.

Adam Hale, CEO of Fairsail, said that organisations need to take data more seriously. “There are big challenges for UK mid-sized businesses to sustain growth and be more productive, with a growing gap between HR leaders who get the urgent need for data and those who don’t,” he said.

“I’m not talking about simplistic HR metrics and KPIs – although clearly many firms struggle with these – I’m talking about the power of people science. This means being able to know why one of the firm’s top performers has quit, or what experiences new hires need to get up to speed quickly. It means the ability to hire and develop the right people today while building the skills needed for tomorrow.

“By hiring a chief people officer and taking a data-focused approach mid-sized organisations throughout the UK can better understand the needs and perspectives of each employee, allowing them to know their people as well as they know their customers.”

The use of people science in fast growth companies surveyed 500 HR leaders.