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HR leaders struggle to keep up with expectations

Demands for higher pay, and greater working flexibility from employees among most significant employer concerns

Over a quarter (28%) of HR leaders believe there are too many demands on their time at work, according to research by professional services consultancy Barnett Waddingham.

Over a fifth of HR leaders (22%) reported feeling very stressed, while 17% said they are unable to keep up with the pace of change at work.

Pete Cooper, director of people partners and analytics at Personio said HR’s role has expanded significantly since the pandemic.

He told HR magazine: “Too many HR teams aren’t getting the credit they deserve. HR played an incredibly important role at the outset of the pandemic contributing to highly strategic people decisions.

“However, most HR teams are too busy dealing with current challenges rather than preparing for upcoming ones. With so much on their plate, and so often feeling on the back foot, it’s no surprise that HR teams are feeling overworked.”

Read more: Work stress: balancing the bad with the good

Employee demands for higher pay (79%), greater working flexibility (78%), a stronger value and purpose (77%) and more hybrid working flexibility (73%) were among the top-rated concerns for businesses.

Over half (51%) of HR leaders often felt demands were unrealistic. 

Julia Turney, partner, platform and benefits, Barnett Waddingham said although it is positive that employees are communicating their needs, HR need the C-suite’s full support in accommodating them.

She said: “It should come as no surprise to anyone that we are now dealing with workforces who are not afraid to voice their priorities to employers, but will quickly move on if a job doesn’t suit their needs. 

“While this can make it easier for businesses to quickly understand the needs of their workforces, it is also clearly placing a lot of pressure on HR leaders who are struggling to prioritise responding to their demands.”

Turney added that a data driven approach can help HR accurately prioritise employee concerns.

She said: “Now has never been more important than ever for employers to take a data-led approach to their HR function. As employee demands increase, having the right intelligence at your fingertips is vital to ensure you can make informed, and accurate decisions that benefit both your staff, and organisation as a whole. 

“HR directors and C-suite professionals should consider the tools available to support them in this respect, and work with partners to ensure they can effectively prioritise.”

Survey fieldwork was undertaken on behalf of Personio by Censuswide, with fieldwork conducted between 25th August and 5th September 2023. The survey sample was 500 18+ HR Decision Makers in UK & Ireland  in companies with 10-2,000 employees.

Read more: HR leaders struggling to keep up with workplace changes