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Evidence-based HR: inside F4S' research

The landscape of work is rapidly changing. In light of financial uncertainty and the rise of automation, organizations are under increased pressure to make every dollar count. With the cost of a bad hire costing up to 2.5 times the individual's salary¹, this means hiring the right people from the get go.

But, how do you go about identifying cultural fit and that all-important 'X-factor' amidst hundreds of potential candidates? The good news is, you no longer have to rely on gut feel. Read on to learn how F4S' proprietary research into evidence-based HR can facilitate better decision making.

How evidence-based HR can build a thriving culture in the workplace

The current cultural zeitgeist and entry of Gen-Z into the workplace are driving unprecedented hiring challenges. Gone are the days where organizations hired based on a 50/50 split between technical skills and culture fit. In a time where employees are more purpose-driven than ever, the split is now closer to 30/30/30—with 30% aligning with corporate values². As companies and candidates engage in a mutual dance to gauge each others’ values, hiring now takes far longer (which can be costly for organizations).

On top of that, employee onboarding is more time-consuming than ever. Many organizational leaders report that Gen Z employees take longer to learn efficient ways of working, due to a lack of soft skill training at university. This drawn-out onboarding process can send hiring costs through the roof.

In order to maximize retention and ROI of new hires, an evidence-based decision making process is essential. At F4S, we make this evidence-based HRM approach accessible to all organizations. Our research aims to provide a unique lens into the motivation talents of people all over the world to create tailored programs and support so that everyone can thrive in the future of work, where cognitive diversity is embraced and celebrated!

Utilising their Organisational Health Index, McKinsey & Company found that those with the top quartile cultures post a return to shareholders that is 60% higher than median-rated companies and 200% higher than the bottom quartile³, demonstrating the importance of workplace culture.

Through our evidence-based research, we aim to help people all around the world better understand themselves and others. Together, we can make it possible for everyone to recognise their unique talents and find alignment in work and life.

Why should you participate in evidence-based HR practices?

In the past, human resources practitioners and business owners relied on intuition or 'gut feel' to make hiring decisions. With a lack of scientific evidence to enable more reliable practices, this was the only option. However, this approach to hiring is problematic, due to something called cognitive bias.

Otherwise known as unconscious bias, these are systematic errors in how we process and interpret information from the world around us. Each day, we all make hundreds of micro-decisions without even noticing it. In a world where we are bombarded with billions of bits of stimuli, our brains rely on mental shortcuts to simplify information. Unfortunately, we all have blindspots, and these mental shortcuts can lead us to make biased decisions. For example, we may have unconscious preferences for candidates who are the same age or gender as us. This makes it difficult to make fair and rational decisions during the hiring process.

Fingerprint for Success is committed to facilitating research that makes human resource management more fair, equitable and unbiased. By being part of the F4S community, you will get exclusive first access to global research findings and immediate access to our motivational work assessment. The assessment provides a never-before-seen lens into the motivations, attitudes and preferences of you, your team and your wider organization in the workplace. Contributing to this research enables you to move towards a future filled with understanding, appreciation and inclusivity.

Our research also informs F4S powerful suite of evidence-based HRM tools. With our Ranking Talent feature, you can be proactive about cultural fit by ranking employees by their predicted ability to thrive in your environment. But, the talent development doesn't end after onboarding. Our coaching programs help employees develop the most important soft skills for workplace performance and happiness. You can also track employees’ progress and engagement over time with our Benchmarking and People Analytics features, and get a bird's-eye view of your team's cohesion with Culture Map.

F4S team dashboard shows and ranks team motivations

F4S team dashboard

What sources are used for evidence-based HR?

Wondering what sources of evidence are actually used in human resources? Evidence-based practice draws upon a wide range of information, including:

  • Quantitative insights: These are sources of evidence that draw upon numerical measures and statistical analysis. In HRM practice, this often includes retention rate, salary, hours of overtime and sick leave. However, more abstract things like productivity, performance and engagement can also be turned into quantitative insights with the right tools.
  • Qualitative insights: Unlike its data-driven counterpart, qualitative insights draw more upon anecdotal evidence. It typically looks more at people's feelings, emotions and subjective experiences. Qualitative insights are often gathered via surveys and interviews, and may include open-ended descriptions of an employee's perception of the workplace.
  • Experiential evidence: This is the collective experience or expertise of those who have practiced in a particular setting. It's usually gathered by stakeholders who have a high level of knowledge in that area—for example, community leaders in certain minority groups.
  • Organizational evidence: Similar to qualitative insights, this is additional evidence that more closely aligns with the bottom line of the business. For example, profit, revenue, ROI and customer churn.
  • Academic journals: Some leaders in the professional development space commission their own academic research to further evidence-based practice. For example, F4S' assessment is based on research conducted by founder Michelle Duval, which explores attitudes and motivations of workplace top performers.

What is the F4S assessment?

Based on more than 20 years of research, the F4S assessment assesses 48 motivations, specifically in the context of work, determining what we pay attention to and how we derive fulfilment and satisfaction. The assessment takes an evidence-based approach that guarantees everyone receives a unique result.

Our proprietary research studies

Through our research, F4S is contributing novel findings to the field of evidence-based HR. Our current studies include:  

  • Can Entrepreneurial Success be Predicted 2016: Benchmarking the motivations of successful entrepreneurs and business builders, this study endeavors to answer the question: Are there specific entrepreneurial attitudes and styles that influence venture success?
  • F4S MBTI Study: Our goal is to build upon the existing understanding of MBTI personality theory by adding new dimensions in motivation theory and cognitive bias, providing unique insights into creating workplaces of the future. (Report in process)
  • F4S Dyslexia Study: With the increasing levels of dyslexia diagnoses and neurodiverse individuals entering the workforce, F4S has asked the question, can dyslexia be a talent in the workplace? (The sample is still being collected)
  • F4S ADHD/ADD Study: Our study will look at whether people who experience ADD/ADHD have distinct motivations or cognitive patterns that drive them at work. (The sample is still being collected)
  • F4S Philippines Culture Map: 2002: Highlights the key cultural and motivational differences or affinities that can enable enterprise and government to strategically position the Philippines for global partnerships, innovation, funding and upskilling of entrepreneurial talent.
  • F4S Thai Culture Map: 2022: A groundbreaking and insightful analysis of the unique culture of the Thailand working population. This research provides detailed information on how to leverage, strategize and better understand new opportunities for the Thai workforce.
  • Startup Genome - Entrepreneurial Mindset 2018: To analyze essential mental attributes, Startup Genome and Fingerprint for Success asked founders around the world questions pertaining to their Founder Mindset (start page 30)
  • She Loves Tech 2020 report: This report utilized data provided in the year of 2020 by more than 2000 technology startups across 60+ countries registered in the She Loves Tech ecosystem.
  • F4S Enneagram Study: Our goal is to build upon the existing understanding of Enneagram personality theory by adding new dimensions to motivation theory and cognitive bias, providing unique insights into creating workplaces of the future, where authenticity and self-awareness are not only encouraged, but celebrated!
  • F4S Clifton Strengths Finder Study
  • F4S DISC Study

What are the benefits of evidence-based HR?

Adopting evidence-based HR methods has many positive, practical implications for an organization.

These include:

  • More effective hiring decisions: Evidence-based practice helps organizations make rational decisions and bring on better cultural fits. According to research, using data makes hiring 80% more efficient, and decreases attrition rates by up to 50%⁴.
  • Better diversity and inclusion: By relying on evidence-based measurement – not just the opinions of the hiring panel – organizations can remove bias and prejudice from the hiring process. Given that diverse organizations are 36% more likely to have above-average profitability⁵, this is good news for your company's bottom line.
  • Screen for soft skills: Otherwise known as human skills, soft skills such as communication, empathy and critical thinking are essential for cultural fit. They're also the most in-demand skills of the future and a key predictor of company success. While soft skills have traditionally been hard to measure in the past, F4S uses credible sources to capture these traits.
  • Understand generational differences: Generation Z is expected to account for 27% of the workplace by 2025⁶. With each generation having its own unique attitudes to work and motivations, an evidence-based HR approach is required to get the most out of everyone on your team.
  • Strong ROI: The fact of the matter is that bad HR decisions cost companies thousands of dollars per year. From reduced hiring time to better team collaboration and performance, the ROI of switching to evidence-based HRM decision-making can be enormous.
  • Gain feedback on HR initiatives: Another advantage of evidence-based HR is the ability to measure and evaluate HR initiatives using evidence-based measurement approaches. By employing valid and reliable measurement tools and techniques, organizations can gather meaningful data on the impact of their interventions.

Examples of evidence-based HR: who uses it?

All industries can benefit from an evidence-based HRM decision-making process – from not-for-profits and start-ups, to billion-dollar conglomerates. Examples of companies that leverage F4S to make strategic decisions include:

High-growth companies: Fast-growing companies often need to hire rapidly, too. F4S helps rapid-growth start-ups like Canva cut through the noise so they can bring on the right people, fast.

Universities: Nobody has a greater appreciation for scientific evidence than academics! That's why universities like UTS use F4S to help their students design their career paths and reach their full potential.

Enterprises: Large corporations such as SAP (a multinational software company) use evidence-based practice to grow and maintain their high-performing culture as they scale – which involves only bringing on the best.

Accelerators and VCs: Investing can be risky, especially when it comes to early-stage start-ups. VC firms like Cocoon Capital use F4S to aid their decision-making process, as they can benchmark a founder's potential against other successful entrepreneurs.

Evaluate data from different perspectives

Bringing in diverse perspectives is a key component of evidence-based HR methods. Different people extract different meanings from data, so it's wise to get multiple people involved in evidence reviews.

F4S’  team analysis feature allows you to share your people insights with key stakeholders. Leaders can take the assessment, then set up a team and invite key team members to join. Each team member takes the assessment, then leaders can use the 'team' section of F4S to view culture, affinities, differences, benchmarks, team motivations and insights.

Feeling unmotivated?

Find out how to unlock your motivation.

How to implement evidence-based HR

No longer do organizations have to cobble together multiple, expensive analytic tools to practice evidence-based HR methods. F4S is an all-in-one solution for optimizing human potential. In alignment with our mission to democratize human development, there's no obstacles to get started with F4S. You can get access to our powerful suite of performance, collaboration and hiring tools for free; with affordable paid plans also available for teams larger than three.

What is the future of F4S research?

F4S has contributed substantial scientific evidence to the fields of coaching, professional development and HR. And this is only the beginning!

F4S has previously focused on researching the X-factors of successful start-ups and scale-ups. We have also delved into the motivations of global workforces, for example, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, and the US.

We are also investing in studies of personality and strength assessments, different organizational practices (such as the four-day workweek), mental health, neurodiversity, wellbeing, and so much more.

Our research has also now been extended to study creative artists, elite athletes and other higher performers. This research will help bring awareness to the human skills of those performing at the top of their game and how they compare with the general population.

You can help make human development accessible to all and contribute to the future of work by taking part in our studies.

AI and our data ethics: You have control of your data:

Wondering how F4S approaches privacy and data protection?  Rest assured, your participation in any F4S research study is 100% anonymous, and your identity will never be associated with your research participation. You may choose to participate in any number of studies that you feel called to. We've made it possible for you to opt-in or opt-out in your profile settings at any time – so you're always in control of your data.

Our values

F4S company values

Responsible data principles

  • Your data belongs to you, and you always control what you share
  • We do not sell your data
  • All data is anonymised within the studies
  • We believe in conducting research that has positive social impacts
  • We research areas that promote cognitive diversity, inclusivity, wellbeing, self-awareness and more
  • We fund all of our research or work in research partnerships with other ethical research organizations.

Research advisory board

The esteemed experts who sit on the F4S research panel include:

  • Michelle Duval

Michelle pioneered new forms of learning and the field of professional coaching in Australia in 1997, becoming a leading voice forging developmental and transformational coaching worldwide.

She has coached entrepreneurs, thought leaders, CEOs, and creative artists such as writers, producers, and actors. She has coached thousands of individuals locally and internationally.

  • Matija Squire

Matija is the research and community lead at F4S. After graduating with a dual bachelor's in Arts and Business, Matija has worked across various industries and provided advisory to universities, businesses, and governments on education policy, entrepreneurship, cross-cultural programs, and bilateral trade.

As someone who is neurodivergent, she is passionate about using science-based research to identify and quantify human patterns that can empower and transform people, teams, and culture.

  • Daniel Frenda

Daniel is a senior engineer at F4S, responsible for data modeling and analysis. He is also a full-stack developer with a scientific background, having previously studied Advanced Physics and Computing at UNSW. Daniel's role involves rapidly evolving F4S data, research, resources, app features, dashboards, modeling tools, and more. He's a strong believer in using unbiased empirical evidence to draw insightful conclusions.

  • Dr. Carl Harshman

Carl L. Harshman founded the Institute for Work Attitude & Motivation which is dedicated to education, research, and application of innovative tools for helping organizations, teams, and individuals improve performance through an understanding of motivation and attitude.

Dr. Harshman's undergraduate and doctoral degrees were conferred by The Ohio State University. He earned his Master’s degree at Wright State University. In 1972 he joined Saint Louis University to create the Office of Institutional Research. Carl is an award-winning speaker and has presented at regional, national, and international meetings including the Association for Quality and Participation, Ecology of Work, Work in America Institute, the Industrial Relations Research Association, and the International Association for Business Ethics.

  • Patrick Merlevede

Patrick Merlevede founded JobEQ in 2004, which has partners who are active in more than 30 countries. He is the author of several publications including 7 Steps to Emotional Intelligence (2001) and Mastering Mentoring & Coaching with Emotional Intelligence (2004). He graduated with a Masters in artificial intelligence and cognitive science in 1992 and specializes in making models of excellence.

  • Dr. Jeri Childers

Dr. Childers was the Director of Education at iAccelerate, at UOW and the Founding Director of the UTS Techcelerator, at the University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Engineering & IT, which enables early-stage tech founders to prototype and validate their commercial deep tech solutions. Dr. Childers also founded the UTS Female Founder Mentoring Program and the Advancing Women in Tech leadership development series.

Today, Dr. Childers is also a Fellow with the UTS, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, School of Leadership and Professional Practice, where she conducts research on innovation and enterprising mindsets for designing careers and venture development. Her focus is on mindset, culture, product/service design, and structures that enable innovation, diversity, and inclusion.

F4S: Leading the way for evidence-based management in HR

F4S is leading the way for an evidence-based approach to become mainstream within organizations. By leveraging organizational data and other external evidence, companies can make their HRM processes more streamlined, cost-effective and equitable. Not only that, but by embracing evidence-based management in HR, organizations can create happier, high-performing teams and foster a culture of continuous improvement.


Chandler Macleod. (2018). The True Cost of Hiring the Wrong Person. Available at: https://www.chandlermacleod.com/blog/2018/09/the-true-cost-of-hiring-the-wrong-person

2.( 2023). Available at: https://www.weforum.org/reports/chief-economists-outlook-jan-2023/

3. Dewar, R. (2018). Culture: 4 keys to why it matters. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/the-organization-blog/culture-4-keys-to-why-it-matters

4. McKinsey & Company. People Analytics. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/solutions/orgsolutions/overview/people-analytics

5. McKinsey & Company. (2020.). Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/featured%20insights/diversity%20and%20inclusion/diversity%20wins%20how%20inclusion%20matters/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters-vf.pdf

6. Zurich Insurance Group. (2022). How Will Gen Z Change the Future of Work. Available at: https://www.zurich.com/en/media/magazine/2022/how-will-gen-z-change-the-future-of-work

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