44% of European HR professionals does not know what General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is

28 November 2017

• 44% of European HR professionals is not familiar with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) • 81% of those who are aware of GDPR believe they will be ready by the May 2018 deadline • 55% of European HR professionals think that GDPR could be a risk, leading them to implement various preparations • More than seven out of ten(72.6%) think outsourcing HR will help them with complying with the GDPR by May 2018

A survey conducted by SD Worx, the global HR and payroll service provider, reveals that out of 1,800 HR and payroll professionals, 44% are not familiar with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, of the 56% who are aware of the impending GDPR, 81% feel they will be ready by the May 2018 deadline. The study, conducted among HR professionals in nine European countries , show polarised views when it comes to the new legislation.

The General Data Protection Regulation is a new European legislation concerning data protection for all individuals within the European Union. The regulation was adopted in May 2016, but there was a two-year transition period for organisations to allow them to prepare themselves to comply with the regulation by May 2018. From May next year onwards, the GDPR will be enforceable and binding and non-compliance could lead to severe penalties – up to 20 million euros.

Not all HR professionals are aware of the new legislation, as the results of the survey conducted by SD Worx demonstrate. 44% had never heard of GDPR before. Of the 56% of HR and payroll professionals who are aware of GDPR, the majority are collaborating with other departments or outside providers. 84% of respondents revealed that they are getting help from other departments within their organisation, yet 73% believe that GDPR compliance would be easier if HR and payroll were outsourced. In addition, the survey found that 91% are likely to look for additional skills outside of the organisation to help with GDPR preparation.

Risk to the HR industry

Of those who are aware of GDPR, 55% of respondents believe GDPR is a risk to the HR industry, leading them to implement various preparations. 68% of respondents are learning as much as possible on the subject and are reviewing and updating all existing policies and processes related to data protection, while 49% are evaluating the need for changes to current business relationships (including with data contractors).

Jean-Luc Barbier, International Managing Director at SD Worx, commented, “This survey has revealed a clear divide in the HR industry. Even though those who have heard of GDPR are preparing for GDPR and think they are likely to be ready by the deadline, the other half of the industry has not heard of GDPR. Therefore, you would assume that the ones who are not aware, are not making the necessary changes to their department. It’s great to see that those who are aware are seeking skills to help them from a variety of sources, both internal and external. What this survey tells us though is that a significant amount of education still needs to be done.”

Improved data security will be the biggest benefit

When it comes to GDPR-readiness in the nine European countries, the survey also highlighted various differences between countries. For example, only 67% of respondents in Austria believe their HR team will be fully GDPR compliant by the deadline, whereas in Ireland the rate was 90%. In addition, when asked if outsourcing for the HR and payroll department will make becoming GDPR compliant easier, 56% of Swiss respondents said yes, whereas Belgium’s (85%) and the United Kingdom’s (73%) responses were much higher.
Although the HR industry seems to be polarised, for those who have heard of GDPR, people are aware of the benefits. When asked what the key benefit of GDPR is to the HR and payroll industry, 71% believe improved data security will be the biggest benefit, whereas only 3% believe that GDPR will bring no benefits at all.



If you are interested in our paper containing all the results, please inform us by e-mail  to WeAreGlobal@sdworx.com and we will be happy to send it to you.