HR professionals add value to meaningful work

Published today, the CIPD’s annual survey of people professionals offers an upbeat assessment of the value good-quality HR brings to business and organisations.

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Four in five (80%) of those who work in the people profession say it offers them a meaningful career and almost three-quarters (73%) believe they have the opportunity to add value to their organisation. The CIPD’s latest People Profession Survey, conducted in partnership with HR software company, Workday, explores the perceptions and experiences of those working across all fields of the people profession.Overall, it paints a positive picture, with the majority finding enjoyment in their work.Of the 1,368 in-house people professionals who were surveyed by YouGov:  •    60% say they look forward to coming into work most days 
•    73% say the profession offers good career prospects  
•    65% say the profession offers good earning potential.Commenting on the data, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said: “There are plenty of positives to take away in the latest People Profession Survey.“It’s good to see that so many people professionals get meaning and value from their careers, which is likely to be reflected back in them showing strong commitment and engagement.” 

Room for improvement in the HR profession?

However, the report also highlights areas where the profession can improve, particularly around people analytics and data skills. These, says the CIPD, are where expertise is lacking, but demand is high. Only 6% are using advanced analytical techniques to help make business decisions, while 37% collect and use very basic HR data. Peter Gamble, Regional Vice President at Workday, UK and Ireland, also commented, saying: “It has been a challenging year but one that has highlighted the importance of the people profession.“Amidst uncertainty, people leaders have had to make confident decisions about the best way forward for their organisation and their workforce. In a fast-changing environment, leaders have had to help people stay informed, engaged and supported while adopting what have been entirely new ways of working for many.“Responding to change quickly and effectively has been key. Businesses must strive to build a culture of agility, data-driven decision-making, and automation to fuel the recovery from the effects of this year and to drive innovation in the future.”

What is the impact of COVID-19 on HR?

Separate polling carried out by the CIPD in April built on the survey to explore the impact of COVID-19 on people professionals.It shows that 57% of people professionals agreed that their people team are stepping up to support line managers through the crisis.However, only 41 per cent of all business leaders agreed.The profession also acknowledges the strain workers are under, with more than a third (37%) saying a key business challenge is helping people to manage the impact of home working on their mental health.  

“The demands placed on the people profession over the last few months have never been greater with the Covid-19 pandemic, and we have seen so many positive examples of how individuals and teams have risen to the challenge,” comments Peter Cheese. “It’s particularly encouraging to see the focus on supporting line managers, many of whom are now having to manage teams remotely for the first time and support workers through these anxious and uncertain times.“However, there is always scope for development and, once again, the report highlights the need for people professionals to improve their analytics capabilities.

Supporting employee engagement after COVID-19

The survey also casts light on where HR can help rebuild engagement as the UK and Ireland readjusts to the post-pandemic environment. Mr Cheese is among commentators who believe the disruption the global shutdown has caused will hasten existing trends. “The crisis has put people much more at the heart of business thinking everywhere, but we need to show we can engage with business leaders at all levels with clear and actionable insights to drive positive change,” he says.“This will be even more important as businesses look to drive performance and productivity as they chart their way through more challenging and uncertain economic times, and must balance financial, legal and ethical perspectives in the decisions that impact their workforces.  “People professionals will continue to face many demanding months ahead as we slowly come out the lockdown and the full impact this crisis has had on the economy is laid bare. We will be here to support them through it all.”  

Further findings in the report explore the change or improvement that people professionals would most like to see in HR capability:  
•    Coaching line managers (32%) 
•    OD and change management skills (26%)  
•    Building relationships with colleagues and understanding their priorities (25%) 

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