· News

HR struggles with efficiency as function evolves

Only 9% of HR leaders say their HR function is both highly efficient and highly aligned to their organisation’s needs, according to management consultancy Gartner.

The survey of 217 HR leaders found 55% said they were getting more requests on a wider variety of topics, while 80% claimed their function is facing different challenges to those they faced before the pandemic.

Post-pandemic, 51% of HR leaders reported they had received more requests for support, and 45% said it is more difficult now to handle conflicting demands.

More on HR's role:

HR's role in employee activism

HR's role as cultural champions

Addressing employee expectations of mental health support

Piers Hudson, senior director in the Gartner HR practice said HR’s role has evolved and encompasses an increasing number of topics, from DEI concerns to climate change efforts.

He said: “Unfortunately, today’s new world of work has not only burdened HR with new demands but increased obstacles to effectiveness.

“To address these types of new demands and obstacles, most HR leaders look to restructure their function or change their internal ways of working. Unfortunately, those approaches are only marginally increasing efficiency because they fail to recognise a shift in the role of HR in organisations.”

The study found 71% percent of respondents reported burnout among HR staff was more challenging than pre-pandemic.

More than half of HR leaders surveyed reported increased difficulty in both retaining and recruiting HR employees.

Hudson said HR needs to encourage more internal mobility to fill HR roles.

He said: “HR needs to allow a more permeable movement of talent into and out of the function, yet only one quarter of HR leaders say their staffing model allows them to bring non-HR people into HR roles.

“This type of collaboration with the wider organisation will help HR address the novel workforce issues they are now facing.”

Digitalisation is a key way that HR is tackling increasing challenges, as 60% of business leaders intend to incorporate more AI and automation into their HR department, according to separate research from Personio.

According to the same study, 66% think AI will make them more efficient and productive.

Dan Phipps, HR solutions director at HR technology provider AdviserPlus, said HR leaders can use AI as an opportunity to improve productivity and focus less on administrative tasks. 

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “HR professionals can adapt, upskill and use AI as a tool to enhance their work and provide value-added services. 

“AI can generate valuable insights from data, spotting trends, improving data-driven decision-making and analysing employee relations cases for patterns and trends.  

“It can also automate repeatable tasks that don’t require the specialist skills of HR professionals, helping to simplify ways of working and free humans to spend their time on tasks that require empathy and human connection.”