“Analytics is knowledge is power.”—Francis Bacon

There is no doubt that the priorities and investments of the HR function have shifted as a result of COVID-19. As employees transitioned to a predominantly remote work environment, HR was faced with fresh challenges. Not surprisingly, maintaining employee productivity and safeguarding their well-being were among the top ones.

Thirty-two percent of respondents ranked adopting digital technologies to support remote working and collaboration as one of the most important initiatives to manage the implications of COVID-19.

As a result, investment priorities in technology have shifted to focus on enabling employees to work in a remote environment.

2020 investment priorities in technology
2019 investment priorities in technology

Surprisingly, the survey data also showed that HR functions are less confident in their ability to use data and analytics compared to 2019. Additionally, while “Conducting workforce forecasting” and “managing performance and productivity” continue to rank among the top five skills required by the HR function, “applying analytics and data science” is now a much lower priority.

21 percent in 2020


24 percent in 2019

This could have costly implications. If HR does not continue to invest in workforce analytics, it may hinder the success of their near-term investments. Technology to support learning and remote working is key to addressing current demands, but HR needs to be able to monitor the impact of those efforts. Data and analytics will also help the function to identify which activities to automate and what skill gaps it will need to fill through new hires or partnerships.

Applying analytics and data science is a prerequisite to conducting workforce forecasting, and pretty much any evidence-based decision the HR function needs to make. You cannot have one without the other.

Kate Holt
Partner, KPMG in the U.K.

Using evidence-based HR

Evidence-based HR uses data, analysis, and research to understand the connection between people management practices and business outcomes, such as profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction and quality. Using this approach is vital for the HR function to ensure that is focused on activities that deliver the most value to the organization. Check the report for a step-by-step guide on how companies can put this approach to practice.

The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

The KPMG name and logo are trademarks used under license by the independent member firms of the KPMG global organization.

Throughout this site, “we”, “KPMG”, “us” and “our” refers to the global organization or to one or more of the member firms of KPMG International Limited (“KPMG International”), each of which is a separate legal entity.

KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee and does not provide services to clients. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.