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Exclusive: HR workers yearn for responsibility


Organisations risk losing their HR professionals unless they offer them more opportunities for career development, warns a report highlighting the amount of untapped potential and ambition within the function.

Professionals in HR are 'hungry' for career development, but their employers are failing to give them sufficient opportunities, according to new research.

A survey of nearly 1,800 HR professionals both in the UK and globally, seen exclusively by HR, found 35% wanted more work responsibilities and believed they could contribute more, while 31% wanted to accelerate or fast-track their career development.

Michael Moran, chief executive and founder of consultancy firm 10Eighty, said: "There are probably not too many people in HR who see it as just a nine-to-five job. The reason is that a lot of people go into HR because they want to make a difference and want to make the working world a better place."

The survey was conducted by CareerCentre, a partnership between 10Eighty and solutions company Career Engagement Group. It found 71% of HR professionals in the UK regard their career as the priority in their view of work-life balance, and 75% would use their own time to further their careers and take on additional learning.

Moran said the majority of people who work in HR believe "they can truly add value to the business". But he added that many employers are being held back from offering the kind of career development staff want because they fear that investing in more training and effective career management could result in top talent leaving the organisation.

"A lot of employers think that if they invest in their staff they will leave, but actually it is completely the opposite," he said. "If you sit down with an employee and ask what it is they want out of the job, you will find a whole series of untapped potential.

"One of my favourite quotes is: 'There are two things people want more than sex and money: recognition and praise'.

"The vast majority of HR people want more responsibility and want to contribute more to the business but many feel under-used. If employees are saying they can do more, it's up to the organisation to harness it. If you don't, these people will move on."

The research suggests that consequences could be severe for employers who ignore staff needs, with 17% of respondents hoping to leave their organisation in the coming year, and 50% and 60% planning to leave within the next three and five years respectively.

"Employees are reluctant to talks to their boss about future development because they don't want to seem like they're looking to move on," said Moran. "But workers are talking about career development and pay with people outside the organisation, such as recruitment agencies. Your employees need to be having that conversation inside the organisation."