The evolution of HR: Everything HR and People leaders need to know

Exclusive research about the evolution of HR from Sage reveals how HR is changing, and what
business leaders and employees are thinking.

HR and People teams have grappled with so much change. There has been an evolution of HR. To thrive in an
ever-changing workplace, you need to be able to balance new and unexpected
demands—all while keeping a cool head during times of crisis. With insights
from HR leaders, business executives, and employees, explore how the world
of HR has changed, how it continues shifting today, and what HR can expect

Changing expectations and perceptions of HR during the evolution of HR

Recent changes mean expectations and perceptions of HR have evolved. We
polled over 1,500 HR leaders, executives, and employees to understand
how—and the role technology is playing. Here’s what we found.

What HR and People leaders said about the evolution of hr

“HR has become more influential, but at the expense of a bigger workload.”

say HR teams have had a vital role to play in the pandemic


report crisis has helped increase understanding of HR’s role


are now delivering a more influential leadership role


Up to 60% have experienced an increase in both admin and strategic tasks


What business leaders said about the evolution of hr

“Changes in HR have accelerated, but HR is still too admin-focused.”

say the pandemic has accelerated changes in HR


view HR as largely still an admin function


don’t think HR’s workload is unmanageable


think recent changes in HR are just temporary


What employees said

“HR is more people-focused and responsive.”


think HR’s role has become more strategic and people-focused


have improved knowledge and understanding of HR’s role and value


say HR has adapted to become more responsive


see the pandemic as a catalyst for HR driving more people-related decisions

HR’s accelerated digital transformation

“Increased focus on digital transformation.”


59% of business and HR leaders think HR is even more focused on digital
transformation thanks to the pandemic

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“A need for more tech – but the lack of investment is a challenge.”


67% of HR leaders see the lack of investment in HR by the company as a
barrier to innovation and new ways of working

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“There’s a confidence gap.”


63% of business leaders are fully confident that HR can bring the
organization into the new world of work, compared to 52% of HR leaders

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To understand more about the evolution of HR and how your organization can get ahead in a world
where disruption has become the new normal, download the full report. HR in
the moment: changing expectations and perceptions of HR.

Download the research

Download the research

Impact through insights

How can HR use analytics to create greater value and increase business
impact? We polled 500+ HR leaders and business leaders to find out how
they’re using analytics to drive decision-making. Here’s what they said.

How aligned is HR with business priorities?

“HR is aligned to business goals, but isn’t leading enough. “

of business leaders feel HR priorities are aligned to those of the overall


still don’t feel HR is playing a leading role across the business,


The future of HR analytics

“HR data and analytics are widely available, but there is a lack of
sufficient actionable insights.”

of business leaders have access to some form of people data from HR.


…62% of HR leaders said they’re unable to use the data to spot trends and
make business-related predictions.


68% of business leaders don’t rely heavily on HR data, and 38% aren’t fully
satisfied with HR’s ability to provide insights and recommendations.


A clear gap between what HR data business leaders want and what they
are getting

Percentage of business leaders who say it is useful to have data on these
indicators versus those who say HR provides data on them.

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It would be useful to have data on this indicator

HR currently provides data on this indicator


Employee productivity rate

Vacation days taken

Revenue per FTE

Cost of labor per FTE

Promotion rate

Diversity percentages

External time to fill

Absenteeism rate

Diversity hire ratio


Vacancy rate

Employee net promoter score

Number of candidates interviewed per hire

External hire rate %

Gender pay gap

New hire failure rate

Average tenure

Cost per employee

Turnover rates

Employee engagement

Training rates

HR to FTE ratio

Cost per hire


The role of HR technology in the evolution of hr

“HR tech has helped organizations to adapt, and contributes to business
goals. “

of business leaders say HR technology has helped assist with business
priorities understanding the importance of the evolution of hr


of HR leaders say that cloud HR helped them to operate effectively during
the pandemic


of HR leaders acknowledge limitations of their current HR systems, and are
not fully confident that their HR tech is ready for the future


Download the full report HR in the Moment: Impact through insights, to see
how HR management can be insight-driven business leaders, delivering
greater value to business leaders and impacting business priorities

Download the research

Download the research

What’s next for HR?

What’s really next for HR leaders in the evolution of hr? We spoke to business and HR leaders to
understand their views on the future of work, based on their recent
experiences during the pandemic. This is what they told us.

New ways of working:

Reimagining the hybrid work future

“Previously, health and safety and HR were very separate departments. Now,
I think they’re so close that you can’t really separate them as departments

General Manager (HR), Life Sciences, Australia

Flexible working


of HR teams are spending more time on flexible working policies


of HR teams say flexible working has become more of a priority

Business transformation, culture and experiences

Creating truly people-focused companies

“The expectation of employees now during this evolution of hr is they want to work for an employer that
is equal, inclusive and diverse.”

CEO, Professional Services, UK

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60% of employees were considered highly engaged when their organization
acted on today’s social issues – up from 40%



Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)


of global companies with more gender diversity in executive teams are more
likely to have above-average profitability than companies without such

Employee mental health and well-being


of HR leaders are more concerned about employee well-being today than
before the pandemic

“People are working so much. We are stressed. We are burned out, and we’re
starting to feel negative about our work, our teams and our organization.”

Professor Tsedal Neeley, Harvard Business School

Successfully competing for talent

Building irresistible organizations

“There is a whole new battle for talent now. Although historically, we’ve
looked to recruit people who could work from one of our offices, this is no
longer the case. Through COVID, we have shown that people can be very
effective working from home.”

CEO, Professional Services, UK

“If employees are not proud of who they work for, or they aren’t engaged
with us as an employer, they’re generally going to deliver poor or
non-responsive advice and service to our customers.”

CEO, Professional Services, UK

How to get ahead

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Find how everything you need to know about HR’s role in the new world of
work by downloading the research report HR in the moment: What next for HR?

Download the research

Download the research

Be ready for what’s next with HR tech

Get ahead in the new world of work and keep up with the evolution of HR with Sage. Take care of all your HR and
People needs with one of our HR solutions.

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