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Sage report reveals opportunity for HR leaders to make a greater business impact

Though 90% of C-suite leaders believe HR technology has been vital, 62% of HR leaders admit to being unable to use People analytics to support business decisions

TORONTO, ONJuly 7, 2021 – Sage (FTSE: SGE), the market leader in cloud business management solutions, today released “HR in the moment: Impact through insights,” the second report in a series looking at the changing role of HR and People teams in organizations.

Through interviews with more than 500 global HR leaders, business executives and employees in Canada, the UK, US, and Australia, Sage explored the alignment between HR and business priorities, and the role of People analytics and technology in this process.

Sage’s research reveals key opportunities for HR leaders:

  • Although 81% of C-suite executives believe HR’s priorities are aligned to the overall business, 59% say HR is not playing a leading role.
  • While 94% of business leaders have access to some form of People data from HR, 68% are not fully reliant on them.
  • 90% of C-suite leaders say HR technology has been vital in supporting business priorities, and 81% say they would not be able to operate effectively without it during the pandemic.

Research findings: Alignment of HR with the business

Overall, HR leaders and the C-suite are aligned both agree that financial performance is the top priority for business, followed closely by leadership, business operations, and digital transformation. However, Sage also found that HR leaders appear to be playing more of an execution role, rather than a leadership role – even in areas where they would traditionally be expected to lead.

For example, more than half of the C-suite say that HR is not playing a leading role in operational excellence (62%), skilling and upskilling (55%) or company culture (54%). Moreover, HR and People leaders recognize their own lack of leadership in these critically important areas: 65% of HR leaders do not feel that they are playing a leading role in operational excellence; 52% say they are not playing a leading role in skilling and upskilling; and 53% say the same for company culture.

Creating impact through insights

HR leaders are in a unique position to improve an organization’s strategic decision making by sharing valuable People data – if they have the right systems in place. Sage found that while 94% of C-suite executives are currently receiving People data, 38% are not fully satisfied with HR’s ability to provide insights and recommendations based on that data, and 68% of C-suite leaders are not heavily reliant on HR data as a result.

Furthermore, 60% of the C-suite are not using People data to help determine financial objectives; 63% are not using it to make recommendations; and 56% are not using People data to help inform company culture and experience-related decisions. The report also revealed the key metrics that C-suite leaders want from HR and People leaders: headcount, employee productivity rate, cost per hire, and HR to full-time employee ratio.

The challenge now is for HR to build on the increased influence they achieved throughout the pandemic by freeing up the capacity of their teams to focus on leadership and driving strategic business change.

The role of HR technology

The report found greater recognition for the current value of HR technology: 90% of C-suite leaders say HR technology has helped them achieve a broad range of business priorities, and 81% say they would not be able to operate effectively without it during the pandemic.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 82% of HR and People leaders say they had to scale HR technology to manage and operate effectively during the pandemic, as remote working became the pervasive norm across organizations. This accelerated digital transformation has, in effect, empowered HR leaders to manage and navigate as much of the disruption as possible. In fact, 89% of the C-suite and 83% of HR leaders believe HR technology enabled them to be more flexible and responsive to changing needs, while helping their business become more resilient.

Looking to the future

“As the Canadian economy reopens and more businesses look to transition to a hybrid work model, HR and People leaders are uniquely positioned to manage this pivotal transition, with support from the C-suite,” said Steve Ryujin, Interim Managing Director, Sage Canada. “With the accelerated digital transformation and evolving workplace trends, HR leaders will need to analyze and respond to changes in real time and demonstrate greater value through actionable insights for operational management and strategic planning.”


To understand the impact of 2020 and recent events, Sage spoke with more than 500 HR and business leaders from across the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. These respondents were drawn from two categories: senior HR roles, including chief people officers and HR directors; and C-suite executive positions, including CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and CTOs. Respondents were from midsize global companies in traditionally high-growth, high-skill sectors such as technology, business services, and not-for-profit.

Media contact:

Monique Daniel
[email protected]
(905) 781-0758

About Sage

Sage is the global market leader for technology that provides small and medium businesses with the visibility, flexibility, and efficiency to manage finances, operations, and people. With our partners, Sage is trusted by millions of customers worldwide to deliver the best cloud technology and support. Our years of experience mean that our colleagues and partners understand how to serve our customers and communities through the good, and more challenging times. We are here to help, with practical advice, solutions, expertise, and insight. Learn more at

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