The HRprogression survey, compiled by the HRO Today Institute and consultancy firm Loudhouse, said while 74% of businesses expect to increase their overall workforce in the next 12 months and 71% have kept staff on since 2008, employers aren't sure who and where their best people are.
The study of 500 HR leaders across Europe, found 61% of employers are concerned about losing high potential employees and critical talent over the next five years, yet only 33% measure and report on high potential employees.
Loudhouse head of research Suzy Timms said: "The study tells us while many organisations understand the strategic purpose of the HR function, day-to-day activities tend to focus more on efficiency savings than delivering against the strategic objectives.
"This can result in missing opportunities to respond to the growing need for world-class staff, as well as potentially increasing business risk around recruitment and retention."
Doubts over data
Poor quality and reliability of employee data is a major concern for 29% of HR leaders. Eight in ten said they could do more to get value from HR data in their organisation, but 21% said they are not clear on what needs measuring.
Just 5% feel they currently make the best use of HR data to manage employee capital risks and 53% are only able to plan resourcing needs up to six months ahead.
Faye Holland, the managing director of SharedXpertise, said: "HR departments are under tremendous pressure to deliver and to be operating more strategically than ever, but our research would suggest that many need guidance on how to achieve this aim."