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Sage research reveals an opportunity for HR to make bigger business impact, with 90 % of C-suite leaders saying HR technology has been vital

62% of HR leaders admit to not being able to use People analytics to spot trends and provide actionable insights to inform business-related decisions.

ATLANTA, July 7, 2021 – Sage (FTSE: SGE), the market leader in cloud business management solutions, today release the second in a series of research reports titled “HR in the moment.” Looking at the changing role of HR and People teams in organizations today, this edition looks more closely at how aligned HR is to business priorities and the role People analytics and technology play in this.

Sage’s research shows that:

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

Research findings: Alignment of HR with the business

Overall, HR leaders and the C-suite are aligned. Both groups agree that financial performance is the top priority for the overall business, closely followed by a focus on leadership, business operations, and digital transformation.

However, Sage’s research shows C-suite observe that HR leaders appear to be taking on more of an execution role, rather than one of leadership – even in areas where they would traditionally be expected to lead.

For example, more than half of the C-suite say HR is not playing a leading role in operational excellence (62%), skilling and upskilling (55%) and company culture (54%). Remarkably, HR and People leaders agree with the C-suite about this – and recognize their own lack of leadership in these critically important areas. 65% of HR leaders do not feel 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.

The challenge now is for HR to build on their increased influence achieved throughout the pandemic, by freeing up capacity within their teams to redirect their efforts into leadership and driving strategic business change.

Creating impact through insights

HR leaders are in a position to improve an organization’s strategic decision making by sharing valuable People data. Our findings reveal 94% of the C-suite are currently receiving People data from HR. However, this information is not turning into actionable insights. Furthermore, 60% of the C-suite are not using HR data to drive any kind of decision making, and 68% subsequently say they are not heavily reliant on it.

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 culture and experience related decisions.

Also revealed in the report are 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 coming out top.

The role of HR technology

Our findings show there is great recognition of the current value of HR technology: 90% of C-suite leaders say HR tech has been helpful for achieving a broad range of business priorities, and 81% said 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 pervasive across organizations. This acceleration in digital transformation has, in turn, empowered HR to manage and navigate as much of the disruption as possible. In fact, 89% of the C-suite and 83% of HR leaders thank HR technology for enabling them to be more flexible and responsive to changing needs, while helping their businesses become more resilient.

Looking to the future: delivering impact through insights

VP of Product and Business Head for Sage People Jonathan Goldsmith says, “Post-pandemic, the C-suite is looking to HR and People leaders to take more of a leading role in managing the changing environment of work. The nature of how and where we work has dramatically shifted, and the current business landscape makes it critical for organizations to be able to analyze and respond to these changes in real-time. It’s surprising that 94% of C-suite leaders have access to HR data but are not fully using it to spot trends and provide actionable insights to inform business-related decisions. There is both a need and an opportunity for HR and People leaders to create more value and have a bigger impact in the business by providing actionable insights to assist in operational management and strategic planning.”

To view Sage’s full report, HR in the moment: Impact through insights,” please go here.


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.


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.

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