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HR happiness at risk because career development is lacking

The happiness of HR professionals is being compromised by a lack of career development, according to new research from The Happiness Index

The inaugural HR Happiness Index was compiled by asking HR professionals to rate how happy they are in relation to the 20 factors driving happiness in the workplace.

HR professionals were found to be less happy overall than people generally. While The Happiness Index recorded a benchmark of 7.7, HR professionals rated their overall happiness at work at 6.8 on average.

The research was conducted in the week leading up to the CIPD annual conference in November 2019.

Commitment to helping the organisation succeed was cited as one of the most significant factors providing HR professionals with happiness (8.4), followed by how well they get on with others at work (7.8).

The lowest two factors were both related to learning and development, specifically satisfaction with the opportunity to progress their careers (5.8) and the amount of training on offer (6.1).

The Happiness Index’s head of global happiness and co-founder, Matt Phelan said the organisations that succeed in making people happy are those that "enable their people to feel like a human, not a number".

However, given HR teams are typically at the forefront of educating organisations on the importance of happiness in the workplace it is worrying that this seems to be at the expense of their own happiness, Phelan added.

The Happiness Index noted a marked difference in levels of happiness in HR among different seniority levels.

The research showed that the highest levels of happiness were recorded by board executives at 8.1. Those in management and non-management recorded lower happiness, at 6.8 and 6.3 respectively.

The sector HR professionals work in also plays a part in determining their happiness, the Index found. The happiest workers recorded were independent, while both business-to-business and business-to-consumer were recorded as being happier than those working in the non-profit sector.

Yet there was little difference in happiness by age group. Generation X was recorded at 7.0, Baby Boomers at 6.7 and Millennials at 6.7 happiness.

When examined by region, HR professionals in Europe (7.6) and North America (7.1) were notably happier than those in Asia (6.0).

Meanwhile, those working in SME organisations proved to be the happiest by company size (7.4) compared to those in larger organisations (6.6 to 6.1).

Phelan said the findings highlight that work needs to be done to ensure HR professionals are satisfied with their career development opportunities: “If we’re to develop the HR leaders of the future more attention needs to be paid to creating clear career paths, motivating and retaining those in more junior HR roles, and ensuring that they have a voice in the boardroom.”