Almost 40% of European payroll and HR teams find it difficult to provide data to support business decisions

6 June 2018

•SD Worx survey shows 87% of teams are asked for data to support business decisions •Survey indicates future technologies blockchain (61%) and AI (63%) will be big in HR

International research conducted by SD Worx today revealed that up to 87% of business leaders are now asking for employee payroll data to inform business decisions.

The survey was undertaken among over 1,500 respondents from nine European markets by SD Worx, a leading provider of global Payroll and HR services. Of these markets, teams in the Netherlands are most likely to use payroll and HR data to inform business decisions (94%), with Ireland (93%) and the UK (89%) not far behind. The research highlights that in the age of analytics, many organisations are now embracing the power of payroll, historically seen as an administration function.

Specific uses of payroll and HR data included:

  • Two thirds of the respondents in France saw payroll and HR data as information to be used for employee appraisals, followed closely by Germany (61%) and Austria (57%).
  • Ireland (54%), Austria (53%), UK (52%), France (49%), Netherlands (49%) and Germany (46%) saw the power of payroll in providing information for business leaders on performance, retention and employee churn.

Challenges to gather data

Despite these findings, almost 40% of respondents find it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to provide HR and payroll data to business leaders. When it comes to international payroll, the biggest challenges were cited as multiple systems (45%) and compliance (40%), followed by confusing data (31%). Although it’s positive news for HR and payroll professionals that powerful data is now elevating the function within the business, it’s still clear that they face technology challenges. 

Blockchain and HR

The survey also exposed views on upcoming technology in the HR and payroll industry, with 61% of respondents believing that blockchain will be either important or critical in the industry. Similarly, 63% predict that artificial intelligence and automation will be either important or critical for HR and payroll professionals, highlighting the importance of technology in the HR and payroll industry. 

Concrete example of Roche Diagnostics Belgium

“We are only at the start of HR analytics, but HR can be at the wheel for 'Strategic workforce planning',” says Christophe Becquart, HR Director of Roche Diagnostics Belgium. He identifies several advantages and concrete ways of contributing to the business: “HR carries out analyses of absenteeism and a biennial engagement survey, which provides signposts for following up on any actions needed. They can observe how long employees stay in the same position. Team managers can better monitor and discuss the need for mobility. And the data regarding the mobility provides impetus for them to anticipate career development in a timely way and apply for new capacity. Another example: by looking at the ‘holiday running ratio’, the rate at which vacation days are taken, we can help avoid employees waiting too long and risk losing their work-life balance.” His goal is clear: “Our HR analytics provide input for the discussions with the business team leaders, providing the necessary manpower more quickly or help them to budget.”

Jean-Luc Barbier, Vice President Global Solutions at SD Worx, commented: “This survey is great news for HR and payroll teams, showing that data is really empowering not just them, but their businesses, with strategic insights. With the modern workforce and employee engagement being top of the agenda, HR managers should use HR analytics to draw powerful, strategic data and conclusions from what used to be static data. By doing so, they can play a much more strategic role for the business and move HR and payroll into the boardroom at last.”

You can view the full survey here.


The SD Worx team commissioned a survey of 1,500 HR and Payroll professionals for business insights in nine9 European countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK. Between 17th April and 21st May 2018, professionals with payroll decision-making authority were surveyed to assess their views on the use of HR and payroll data and providers.

About SD Worx

As the leading European player in payroll and HR, SD Worx provides worldwide services in the areas of payroll, HR, legal support, training, automation, consultancy and outsourcing. It focuses on the customer, fully embraces digitisation and is committed to international growth. Today, more than 65,000 large and small organisations worldwide trust in SD Worx and its over 70 years of experience.
The 4,150 employees at SD Worx operate in ten countries: Belgium (HQ), Germany, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Austria, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. SD Worx calculates the salaries of some 4.4 million employees and achieved a turnover of €443 million in 2017. SD Worx is co-founder of the Payroll Services Alliance, a global strategic network of leading payroll companies that together provide 32 million payroll calculations. 
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