News story

New Fosway research into the COVID-19 crisis provides a first take on HR’s ability to answer critical business questions

Cirencester, UKLearning NewsFosway

With organisations in turmoil as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fosway Group, Europe’s #1 HR industry analyst, today shares new research aimed at providing practical insight for HR leaders at this difficult time. Every HR leader is being asked critical questions by their executives – but do they actually have the data and tools to answer them?


HR data and technology is now needed more than ever to support business critical decisions around jobs and continuity planning. This research sheds light on how useful these are in reality. An important issue that has so far flown under the news radar relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business.

Some key headlines

Unsurprisingly, 100% of HR functions surveyed have seen COVID-19 impact their HR operations. But tracking this impact has been far from easy. Only 1 in 4 have found it easy to report on key statistics including how many people are self-isolating, working remotely or are hospitalised for example.

A little more than half (57%) are using their Core HR systems to help track this impact. 40% are still reliant on spreadsheets, with a huge emphasis on managers recording this data on behalf of their teams. 80% of organisations are relying on managers to do this manually versus only 23% supporting self-service forms online. 71% think the answers HR technology can provide as a result are severely limited.

Worryingly, only 30% of HR leaders believe their team has the skills to analyse and predict the impact of COVID-19 on their organisation, and only 13% have found it easy to do the analysis. Organisations are walking a tightrope between their ability to gather personal data with the need to protect people’s privacy. In Europe, GDPR restricts the personal information organisations can hold about their people. But the nature of this pandemic means that the questions HR is being asked by the C-Suite increasingly reach into these areas.

David Wilson, CEO of Fosway Group said, ‘As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, the pressure on HR teams has intensified dramatically. Suddenly they have been asked for all sorts of answers and data to support strategic decisions, that for many organisations is frankly about keeping the lights on. What is not helping is that, for the majority, their HR systems are not actually designed to record or analyse the data necessary to provide business critical answers. There is enormous reliance on managers and spreadsheets to support new daily reporting, and only a minority have the tools to model the future impact of COVID-19 on their workforce and ongoing business operations.’

He continues, ‘We’re already seeing some valuable lessons learned too as obviously very few organisations were ready for the scale of COVID-19, including increasing HR self-service capabilities, providing reliable mobile access to HR systems, and removing red tape around policy. It’s clear that HR teams have to be agile and respond constructively in these extraordinary circumstances, balancing the needs of the business versus what’s right for their people.’

This research was carried out via an online survey with Fosway’s corporate research network during the first three weeks of April 2020. The interim results are based on input from 66 organisations. This first take will be followed up by a report with updated survey data in the early May.

For a copy of the full infographic visit the Fosway website.

The research remains open online