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HR profession on the verge of talent exodus

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HR directors and chief people officers from around the UK say the stress of the pandemic has made them want to work in much smaller businesses.

Over half (70%) of HRDs and CPOs have said they are considering moving from their current roles post-pandemic, according to new research by HR consultancy LACE Partners.

The majority of respondents were from FTSE 250 companies or organisations with over 1000 employees.

Nearly a quarter (23.2%) of senior HR professionals cited burnout as the main reason for wanting to leave their role, as just 36.2% said they felt resilient after the events of the past year.


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Cathy Acratopulo, managing director and co-founder at LACE Partners, said the pandemic has created significant levels of stress and burnout amongst HR professionals and their teams.

She told HR magazine: “The significant number of respondents who said some or most of their teams are showing signs of burnout is a cause for concern.”

LACE’s research found nearly 90% (88.4%) of respondents said some or most of their teams are showing signs of burnout.

On top of this, three-fifths (59.4%) expected to see movement or turnover in their teams in the next six to nine months.

Acratopulo said: “The impact of both HR burnout and churn could be highly unsettling for some of the UK’s biggest businesses, although some may see it as a time to reset people strategies and outcomes.

“How much of the forthcoming churn will be led by individuals, or by the executive team, is yet to play out when strong performance in a time of significant turmoil will have been expected.”

Whilst every member of the workforce is feeling the impact of the pandemic, Acratopulo added HR teams have had the added pressure of ‘owning’ the way the business responded.

“I would encourage leaders to listen to and recognise the particular pressures their HR teams may be experiencing,” she said.

Steve Herbert, head of benefits strategy at Howden, said unlike so many other employment groups who have either been fully furloughed or working on reduced workloads, the HR sector has remained very largely in-post and on the front line of employee/employer relations in some of the most challenging circumstances.

He told HR magazine: "HR professionals have also doubtless been far more exposed to the genuine fears of employees worried about the health of themselves and their loved ones, as well as their employment prospects during the worst economic downturn in recorded history.

"So it is no surprise that large numbers are feeling burnt-out, and that so many are now considering moving on to pastures new." 

However, Herbert said as the pandemic is still very present in the UK and globally, far fewer will be keen to take that final step given the inherent loss of employment rights and employee benefit protections that such a move might entail.

"It is possible that therefore the pent-up demand for HR moves may yet be postponed until 2022,” he reasoned.